Book Review: Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin
TW: depression, suicidal thoughts, alcoholism, mentions of possible self harm
Overview: Gilda has been depressed since she was 11. She's also fairly anxious. She thinks about death quite frequently. Her dishes are piled up in her sink, and she lost her job at the bookstore because she couldn't bring herself to get out of bed. She also frequents the emergency room quite often for a variety of ailments from broken arms and cuts to near constant panic attacks. Trying to find free therapy, she accidentally stumbles into a Catholic Church that thinks she's there to be the new receptionist. So atheist, Lesbian Gilda takes on a new character to accept the job which leads to plenty of hijinks. Overall: 3.5
This is the perfect book to read if you're trying to hit your reading goal. I started it in the evening and finished it early the next morning since it's only 240 pages and fast paced.
Characters: 4 Gilda is always thinking about death and ways to die. Sometimes, she's afraid of it and sometimes she's seeking it out. Mostly, she's just trying to muddle through each day without her leaning tower of dirty dishes falling over. She's smart and witty, her voice reminding me of Fleabag from the start of the book. The observations are sharp, fast, and clear, and it's easy to get used to living in Gilda's world. There's a humorous edge that makes the darkness more manageable, but if you're fighting your own existential thoughts, this might not be the best book to pick up. Gilda doesn't trust herself much, so she struggles in her relationships with others, but she has an incredibly kind heart.
Surrounding her are her parents who love to bury their head in the sand, her co-workers at the church who she's constantly pretending for, her sort of girlfriend, Eileen, who she struggles to keep in touch with, and her brother, Eli, who uses alcohol to mask his pain. Because Gilda is so wrapped up in tangles with her own mind, we don't often see much of these characters past the narrow scopes they pertain to her life, but there are wonderful, small moments of realization for Gilda where she is able to see some of these characters in more dimension, and that seems to be a major point of the development of the novel.
Plot: 3 The plot meanders all over the place. It starts with Gilda just struggling to live with her depression and anxiety, needing a job, and navigating her family and relationships. The middle of the book traces the triumphs and tribulations of pretending to be someone you're most definitely not as she finds her place in the church. This is often hilarious and very entertaining as Gilda finds herself in some pretty ridiculous scenarios. Then there's the ending where the wheels fell off a little for me. Gilda takes over the church job from Grace, the elderly receptionist who died. As the book goes along, the subplot about why/how Grace dies intensifies, and it takes some truly strange and unnecessary swerves by the end. While I liked the ultimate conclusion on the final page, the murder mystery subplot was unnecessary.
Writing: 4 The book meanders on with flashes of thoughts and memories and brief scenes from the present day without chapters to stop the narrative flow. I gobbled this book up because it's super readable and without chapters, it's easy to tell yourself that you might as well just keep reading through the next vignette. The writing is very straightforward and matter of fact, and it's easy to quickly read through the book, which can be really refreshing. The humor keeps the story running, but there's still so much heart as, at the end of the day, Gilda is mostly overwhelmed by how precious and lovely and miraculous every bit of life is, even when it's not quite going your way.
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