A novel details one woman’s interactions with the dearly departed.
When Claire Anderson returns home from a canceled vacation, she is in for quite a surprise. Napoleon Bonaparte is sitting in her living room watching CNN. Soon Claire finds that the legendary leader is not the only unexpected guest: her kitchen contains Janis Joplin and Count Dracula. While an ordinary person would find such a scene deeply troubling, Claire is anxious but not completely flustered. She is a former afterlife coach and has seen this type of thing before. The details of this occupation are complex (and require a lengthy explanation) but it has essentially been Claire’s job to help troubled souls sort out issues from their lives and guide them to suitable places after they die. The catch is that Claire is retired from her vocation and she certainly did not anticipate such peculiar visitors. Will she be able to help these three disparate and needy individuals? After all, she is still dealing with the recent death of her husband; she has two teenage sons to worry about; and her promiscuous friend Karen Palmer has just become pregnant. The idea that such coaches exist makes for a unique, playful plot focusing on the possibility of life after death. Wouldn’t it be comforting (or perhaps annoying) to know that you may be able to work through problems you dealt with in life even after you died? The setup for Claire’s mission is inherently wacky and what sort of silliness a modern Joplin (who appears as a middle-aged Indian woman to non-coaches) will flaunt remains in flux (although the reader can assume, not incorrectly, that the rock star will still like alcohol). Certain circumstances can reach a little too far to be comedic, such as elderly people demanding affordable condoms at the behest of Joplin and Napoleon. But Paul’s (Snoop, 2013) story is at its best when indulging in the zany. Once the reader is onboard with the rules of Claire’s former position, there is no telling when all the kookiness will end and the deceased will recede to the pages of history.
While the premise requires large blocks of exposition, this tale ultimately offers an exuberant take on the afterlife.