Review: When You Read This

When You Read This by Mary Adkins

Genres: Chick Lit, Fiction
Maturity Level: 5
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


For four years, Iris Massey worked side by side with PR maven Smith Simonyi, helping clients perfect their brands. But Iris has died, taken by terminal illness at only thirty-three. Adrift without his friend and colleague, Smith is surprised to discover that in her last six months, Iris created a blog filled with sharp and often funny musings on the end of a life not quite fulfilled. She also made one final request: for Smith to get her posts published as a book. With the help of his charmingly eager, if overbearingly forthright, new intern Carl, Smith tackles the task of fulfilling Iris’s last wish.

Before he can do so, though, he must get the approval of Iris’ big sister Jade, an haute cuisine chef who’s been knocked sideways by her loss. Each carrying their own baggage, Smith and Jade end up on a collision course with their own unresolved pasts and with each other.

Told in a series of e-mails, blog posts, online therapy submissions, text messages, legal correspondence, home-rental bookings, and other snippets of our virtual lives, When You Read This is a deft, captivating romantic comedy—funny, tragic, surprising, and bittersweet—that candidly reveals how we find new beginnings after loss. 


What I loved about this book is that it is just regular people living regular lives. There’s no catch or hook or surprise murder mystery or magic to make this book more interesting. It is literally just people talking to each other. YES.

And the characters are just regular people! They aren’t especially pretty or ugly. They don’t have special or hidden talents. They aren’t perfect or complete screw-ups. They make mistakes, and sometimes they learn from them and sometimes they don’t. They fight about nothing, but they also laugh about nothing. When you meet the female lead she is literally e-shouting at the male lead for reasons that nobody (including her) really understands. It makes her kind of hard to relate to at first, but things like this are also what make these characters intensely relatable.W

I once read a Rainbow Rowell tweet where she was scratching her head about reviews that said “ugh it was just people sitting around and talking” because that’s what she loves MOST about novels. And guys, that is literally all this novel is. Characters getting to know each other and themselves. Characters growing. Characters sliding backwards. Characters.

I once read a Rainbow Rowell tweet where she was scratching her head about reviews that said “ugh it was just people sitting around and talking” because that’s what she loves MOST about novels. And guys, that is literally all this novel is. Characters getting to know each other and themselves. Characters growing. Characters sliding backwards. Characters.

There’s a plot too, sort of. But mostly it’s just characters.

I particularly enjoyed the relationships between the sisters, as well as their relationship with their mom. These relationships were so realistically portrayed. They love each other, but they also have a lot of baggage that occasionally makes them not want to be around one another. Sometimes they just want to be left alone, but sometimes they NEED that other person but don’t even realize they do.

I also liked the way the novel explores different kinds of grief. All of the characters are grieving Iris, but all in different ways and for different reasons. Grieving a daughter, a sister, a friend, a lover. And they all handle it so differently. For that reason I would definitely recommend this novel to someone in the process of grieving for someone they care for, especially if that person lost the battle with cancer.

My absolute favorite character was Smith’s college intern. If you like satire you will like Chad. If you are a millennial tired of hearing about how stupid our generation is, get ready for Gen-Z to take a turn as the butt of jokes. WHAT A RIOT.

If I had to offer a criticism, you see like, all of the contents of Smith’s email, even random one-offs from potential clients that don’t add anything to the story but did add to my level of confusion with the format. Adkins could have left those out.

So while this book didn’t contain any of the capitol-M Magic that characterize Rainbow Rowell’s books or Marie Semple’s, I think it was worth the read. Bittersweet, funny, and thoughtful. I highly enjoyed it, and if you like contemporary chick-lit you probably will too.

6 thoughts on “Review: When You Read This

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s