For a book that deals with cancer, family estrangements, and general life dysfunction, Ask Again Later is a surprisingly fun read. Its main character, Emily Rhode, initially seems like she might be a standard chick-lit creation, but first impressions are wrong in this case - this is a struggling young woman, and her struggles don't really concern designer shoes and landing Mr. Right. In fact, she's got him already, if she wants him and can own up to it. Meanwhile, she's trying to handle her mother's breast-cancer diagnosis, career unraveling, and the unexpected reappearance of her father. She's got a lot on her plate.
I really liked Emily - while I couldn't relate to her completely, she is very human and realistic. She fumbles around a bit in her relationships, and she demonstrates that fear of commitment isn't just a "guy thing." One of the things I liked most about her is her self-awareness; she's definitely got issues, but she knows what they are, she has some idea where they came from, and she's in therapy working on them. I got a sense that she was truly growing and maturing over the course of the story, and it felt like a natural development in the character (as opposed to orchestrated for plot purposes). It made me enjoy spending time with her.
Jill A. Davis used to write for David Letterman, so she certainly has experience with humor, and she uses it well here; it leavens some of the heavy things going on in her characters' lives, and adds dimension to their development. Emily's first-person narration often contains a wry note. And if you were wondering about the title, it's Emily's favorite response to questions that she's not ready to think about yet - and the cover of the original hardcover makes it much clearer that it's derived from that classic decision-making tool, the Magic 8 Ball.
This is an unusual book in that it turns out not to be as light as it first appears - and that's a good thing, in my opinion, but at the same time, it's upbeat and enjoyable. Another good thing is that a portion of the proceeds go to breast cancer organizations - so if you want to read it, please consider purchasing your copy.