A vibrant epistolary collage with pieces of satire, romance, and family drama overlapping.
With six months to live according to her oncologist, 33-year-old Iris Massey covertly, and with some degree of irony, starts an account on Dying to Blog, a visual blogging platform for the terminally ill. The irony stems from the fact that Iris and her boss, Smith, helped launch the platform with their small, struggling PR firm and privately (and mercilessly) made fun of it, inside jokes being part of the deeply companionable work relationship between the two. Most of the novel takes place after Iris’ death, when Smith learns that she left him a printout of this blog for potential publication. Missing his colleague and hoping to fulfill her last wishes, Smith contacts Jade, Iris’ somewhat neurotic, totally no-bullshit older sister, who is a joy to read. The charming quality of Jade and Smith’s developing relationship—both combative and empathetic—is anchored by their grief and by sections from Iris’ blog, which is strikingly self-aware and sometimes breathtakingly poignant, especially the sentiments rendered in charts and graphs. The book moves with the entertaining swiftness and abrupt tonal shifts of communication in the digital age, with particular thanks to Carl, the intern Smith hires following Iris’ death: a millennial ex machina who juices up the plot with perfect self-importance and -absorption. But thanks to Adkins, even Carl has a (hint of) compelling backstory and a delightful arc.
An excellent story that's condensed into a great example of the epistolary format: something that’s thrilling to expand and decode while reading.