Friday, March 23, 2007

'Ask Again Later' by Jill A. Davis

ISBN: 0060875968
Format: Hardcover, 256pp
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

What would you expect from a novel written by a woman who had received five Emmy nominations as a writer for The Late Show with David Letterman? A lot, and Jill Davis delivers. Ask Again Later is her second novel and while I have not read her first, Girls’ Poker Night, I am sure to now.

“Ask again later” is Emily Rhode’s favorite answer to a question. A girl with commitment phobia, she even hates to commit herself to hard answers. But there are lots of reasons to love this girl, besides the fact that some of the situations she finds herself in might be similar to your own.

Emily’s mother is diagnosed with breast cancer and she drops everything - quits her job as a successful lawyer in a big firm, walks out on her almost-boyfriend Sam, and moves in with her mother. Emily is good at running away; she seems to live her life with one foot out the door. But there are some things you just can’t run away from.

Emily’s father shows up for the first time since she was five, answering her mother’s phone call for sympathy. Suddenly Emily and her father have a relationship again. There is a scene of Emily and dad in the hospital waiting room while her mother is in surgery that just makes the book.

They sit side by side without looking at each other and her father says ‘I’m going on a trip. The first thing I’m going to pack in my suitcase is a bowling ball.’ And so it goes back and forth, a game of remembrance. In later chapters the thread is picked up in an elevator. It’s a small touch that takes this book from being just another good book to being a great book.

Emily ends up working as a receptionist for her father in his law firm. She spies on him to learn small details about him, things that she never got a chance to learn growing up. But Ask Again Later isn’t just about her relationship with her father. Emily’s relationship with her mother, her friend Perry, her physiatrist Paul, her sort-of boyfriend Sam, her grandmother, and her sister Marjorie all change.

Written in short three to eight-page chapters, with headings taken from an action in the chapter, this is an easy book to read. You tell yourself just one more chapter and by the time you’re done its 3am and you are almost done with the book.

While you wouldn't expect cancer and being reunited with a lost father funny, Mrs. Davis brings the humor out of all situations. Light and funny but still carrying genuine emotion, I laughed as well as cried. This is one of the best books I have read so far this year. Beautifully written, Ask Again Later isn’t easy to forget.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is one of the best books I have ever read! It's incredibly real and hilarious. I could hardly put the book down...