After she steps off the roof of the Wellesley College library and dies, Maddy Starling refuses to move on to the next phase awaiting her until she knows her husband, Brady, and teenage daughter, Eve, have the right person looking after them. To that end, she chooses Rory, a local teacher with a terminally ill mother, as Brady's next wife. Able to plant suggestions in the minds of the living, Maddy maneuvers Rory into her family's orbit.
While the premise may sound like the setup for an oddball rom-com, the execution is far more profound. Brady and Eve can't function without Maddy, the hardworking, self-sacrificing homemaker who held the family together. Grief numbs Eve to her former life and relationships, while workaholic Brady has no idea how to step into the role of single parent. Both feel frustration over the lack of explanation for Maddy's suicide, as well as an oppressive guilt--perhaps if they had loved her better, appreciated her more, she would still be alive. Well-intentioned people, including Maddy's best friend, Paige, and sister Meg, often intrude when they mean to help. Through subconscious nudges and old journal entries, Maddy tries to help the people she loved most begin to live again without her.
Filled with deaths and myriad ways that human beings fight or surrender to pain, I Liked My Life nonetheless is an affirmation of love and the ability to survive grief and find joy again. Book clubs in particular will take delight in the wealth of emotion to ponder from this talented new voice. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads