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read now, ask again later

You wouldn’t think a story about cancer would be very funny, but author Jill Davis takes a sometimes morbid diagnosis and isn’t afraid to show the humor in it.

“Within a week of my mother’s diagnosis, she started interviewing caterers for her own postfuneral luncheon.”

Emily, Davis’ main character in “Ask Again Later,” uses her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis as an excuse to quit her high-stress job as a lawyer, leave her boyfriend and move back home. While it seems as though she’s running away from her life, Emily is slapped in the face by her past.

Davis cuts up her story into bite-sized segments so it’s easily digestible. Chapters such as “Wacky Sock Day,” “Sharp Right Turn” and “Funeral Food” seem silly, but are all layers, uncovering Emily’s quirky traits and the lives of others around her – her bachelor father who eats blue popsicles for breakfast; her batty mom who counts towels and tosses out those that aren’t part of a perfect set of six or eight; and her sister – a very pregnant socialite.

Davis has the ability to personify the simplest object, perfectly describing how people are faced with loss. “There is a wooden tray covered in felt. Cuff links sit there tarnishing, not knowing he’s dead.”

You find yourself bonding with Emily and her silly, irrational self. Her one-sided conversation with a baby about her enlarged pores: “He smiles. He knows stuff. He burps, and in that burp, I’m convinced, was a message: Try alpha hydroxyl.”

Emily shares illogical rationale that weirdly makes sense. “I’ve never had a mammogram, and I stopped doing self-exams after my mother was diagnosed, because I was afraid I’d find something I didn’t want to find.”

Davis, a former writer for the “Late Show with David Letterman,” has a witty voice that interweaves loss and mortality with love and a dash of crazy.

I picked up what I thought was chick-lit and finished a heartfelt exploration of a human facing the past and dealing with loss.

“read now, ask again later”

  1. Anonymous Anonymous Says:

    In a strangely morbid way, it is interesting to see how different people deal in situations like this. I can tell this is a really well written book by a new author that I had not even heard of. Great review; I am going to check this one out of the library!