I enjoyed this book, but not as much as I'd hoped to. Rob Sheffield has written a series of reminiscences about his life and his late wife, Renée, with each chapter tied to a particular mix tape of songs (in some cases, an actual cassette) that one or the other had put together.
Rob and Renee were in their mid-twenties when they met in Charlottesville, Virginia in the early 1990's. They had been married for five years when Renée suddenly died of a pulmonary embolism, and much of the book concerns Rob's coming to terms with unexpected widowhood in his early thirties. He conveys the grief and anger associated with that very clearly, and I felt for him. What I didn't feel he did as well was give a real sense of who Renée was. It's clear that he thought she was special, and seemed to keep a sense of wonderment about their relationship - "what's a girl like her doing with a guy like me?" - that's rather sweet, but I really didn't come away from the book feeling like I knew her very well. The story really is mostly about him, and that's fine, but I would have felt more connected with it emotionally if there had been more of her too. I think I would have liked more from the book overall.
Despite the premise, I didn't find this book to be maudlin at all. In fact, parts of it were very funny. I love the concept of the mix tape - the idea that there's a message, or a theme, in the particular combination of songs you choose for someone. It's an appropriate metaphor for Rob and Renée's relationship, in addition to a way of sampling their life together.