"by the time you read this" - Lola Jaye - 2008, 2009

I came by this one through a friend, it’s not necessarily a book I would pick up on my own, if only because it’s plot reminded me too much of other things.  Possibly that would be unfair of me, but I immediately called to mind the films, “My Life” and “"Lucky 7"– a small ABC Family movie starring Kimberly Williams and Patrick Dempsey just before his Grey’s Anatomy comeback.  In “Lucky 7” the heroine lives her life according to a map her mom made before dying, taking each item literally even if it’s not what she would have chosen.  As you can imagine, Dempsey isn’t on the list and love and trouble follow.  It’s quite well done actually, but I’m a sucker for made for TV (Hallmark started it all….)

“by the time you read this” doesn’t cover any new territory, but it is set in an interesting time and location; South London, before technology made communication instantaneous, through the rise of the internet and cell phones.  A father leaves “The Manual” for life ages 12 – 30, because he knew he wouldn’t make it past that milestone.  His entries are sweet and funny – Kevin seems perfect on the page, so perfect in fact, the heroine Lois will spend her life comparing her mother, stepfather, and every man to enter her life to him.   No one holds a candle, and she grows into a rather anti-social workaholic, and frankly she’s not that likeable.  At the same time however the portrait author Lola Jaye paints of someone who loses a parent very young (age 5) and stops herself from feeling anything out of fear of abandonment is very believable.  It’s not all gloom and doom and ultimately Lois figures out what matters, work that is fulfilling and lets love in and gives it back without fear. 

While I was not reduced to tears, I did find it a quick enjoyable read, plus who doesn't like to make fun of backward pants and tight-rolling jeans?