By far one of my favorite reads of the year! HTBA is a fun, easy read that is simply perfect for the summer (or any time of the year).
One of my favorite things about all Mary Chris' books is her easy-to-read style of writing. It is fresh, unencumbered, and light. The prose doesn't get in the way of the story. The words fall into the background as you get lost in the story of Jen, a woman whose fiancee has just died.
My second favorite thing about all Mary Chris' books is her amazing ability to tackle heavy subjects (like your fiancee dying) without it being depressing or heavy. Somehow (beyond my comprehension) she writes stories that are positive, proactive, light, and empowering, despite the heavy subject matter. I never felt overwhelmed when reading HTBA and I never felt depressed, only curious how Jen was going to tackle the next obstacle put in her path. By sidestepping the potentially dark emotions one experiences while grieving, Mary Chris allows the reader to delve into other questions and to reflect on their own potential to grieve and keep going. She also tackles the idea of regret and how that affects the grieving process. I really enjoyed how Jen reflected on her life and grappled with the idea of starting over, found her dreams, and learned to live. I found myself constantly contemplating whether I would take the same steps as Jen, or if I would take a different course, which allowed me to explore parts of my own personality that I rarely take the time to analyze. It was a surprisingly reflective read for me.
Mary Chris does all of this while weaving a fascinating story, incorporating wonderful secondary characters (I want a spin-off novel of Jennifer's best friends Zack and Sarah!), delicious food, career challenges, and family battles. If you are looking for something truly enjoyable to read this summer, you simply cannot go wrong with How to be Alive.
Here's a little look at my book club enjoying a care package from Mary Chris with goodies mention in HTBA!