About the Book:
Gilda, a twenty-something, atheist, animal-loving lesbian, cannot stop ruminating about death. Desperate for relief from her panicky mind and alienated from her repressive family, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local Catholic church, and finds herself being greeted by Father Jeff, who assumes she’s there for a job interview. Too embarrassed to correct him, Gilda is abruptly hired to replace the recently deceased receptionist Grace.
In between trying to memorize the lines to Catholic mass, hiding the fact that she has a new girlfriend, and erecting a dirty dish tower in her crumbling apartment, Gilda strikes up an email correspondence with Grace’s old friend. She can’t bear to ignore the kindly old woman, who has been trying to reach her friend through the church inbox, but she also can’t bring herself to break the bad news. Desperate, she begins impersonating Grace via email. But when the police discover suspicious circumstances surrounding Grace’s death, Gilda may have to finally reveal the truth of her mortifying existence.
A delightful blend of warmth, deadpan humor, and pitch-perfect observations about the human condition, Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is a crackling exploration of what it takes to stay afloat in a world where your expiration—and the expiration of those you love—is the only certainty.
Readers could take the title of this book to mean that it is a dark humor piece, or they could take it to be just dark and depressing. Oddly, I’d say both are true to some extent. Author Emily R. Austin gives readers are highly realistic view of life in the mind of someone suffering from at least a panic disorder, if not other mental health issues. She has thrown into this worthy story theme a LGBT story and a mystery. Is it too much? Normally, I’d say yes, but Ms. Austin made it work.
The main character and story narrator, Gilda, harbors every imaginable worry She worries about herself, her family, her neighbors, and the world in general. Much of Gilda’s worrying can be attributed to her undiagnosed and untreated anxiety disorder. How her anxiety manifests makes Gilda an odd character who is somehow relatable and empathetic. Her frequent contemplation of death is disturbing and heart-wrenching.
The people in Gilda’s life are no less flawed. Her delusional parents, her alcoholic brother, her pseudo-girlfriend who puts up with Gilda’s aloofness all make for an over-the-top level of crazy that also means there is always something for Gilda to worry about. The only “normal”, stable character is Father Jeff, the Catholic priest who mistakes Gilda for an applicant for his parish’s open position of church receptionist.
The story is character driven and not particularly fast paced. Don’t mistake that for dull. There is always something going on, and it was easy to get wrapping up in Gilda’s issues so that I finished the book in one sitting. I loved how invested Gilda became in the friendship of two older women that she had never met. It gave me a reason to see Gilda in a different light than just someone battling anxiety. It is a good lesson to apply in life if you know anyone with mental health issues.
While so much of Gilda’s story resonated with me, I felt the denouement and her reparations were a too convenient and contrived. Readers are not given any reason for this miraculous turnaround, but it does provide a more satisfying ending.
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