By the Time You Read This by Lola Jaye
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What a great idea: writing a manual for your child to read, filled with advice and helpful hints, some to be read each birthday and some to be read whenever. In this case, the impetus comes from a diagnosis of something never defined, and stretches from age 12 to 30.
There's a seven year gap between Kevin's death (when Lois was five) and the appearance of The Manual. During these years, she's learned to live with his death and to build up a mythology around him. Her mother's remarriage is not a good thing (per Lois) and when her aunt belatedly brings her this gift, Lois starts to retreat into that mythology.
Some of the advice seemed right on the nose, some seemed contrived and some, well, felt anachronistic (the slang, or the use. of. periods.). That last might be fixed in the final version, I hope. Of course, a man writing to his daughter is going to get embarrassed about certain things and be rock solid on others (the "hormonal teabag" being one of them), ditto someone writing well before the child is whatever age they are supposed to be reading said advice. Having said that, it made me think of my mother, who's mother died when she was 13. This is the sort of thing I think she'd like to have had as she grew up.
My biggest quibble is that there was one event that was telegraphed a mile away (although perhaps we, the reader, were supposed to pick up on what a teen didn't). The obvious eventuality of Corey and Lois' marriage was also a problem, partly because it was so obvious and partly because it only really happened after Lois "got over" her father.
(Free ARC provided by publisher)
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