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Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers' Favorite
When a woman suddenly dies, she finds the afterlife to be unlike anything she imagined in the outstanding fantasy novel How To Be Dead: A Love Story by Laurel Schmidt. Frances Beacon is a former social worker, best-selling author, and noted longevity guru. After living more than six decades, Frances inadvertently steps into oncoming traffic and winds up queuing in a waiting area. Her name appears in lights, and Frances meets the guide who will help her navigate the next part of her journey. Frances is not happy with the situation or the faceless administrator and what they expect her to do. She rages against the classes they force her to attend, the tests she does not understand, the court she cannot see, and her guide. Frances is unable to face her past and participate in self-analysis. However, if she doesn't cooperate, they will send her to a life worse than limbo. Can Frances get her act together and change her attitude? Or will she be forever stuck in cold storage, never to return?
How To Be Dead by Laurel Schmidt is a fascinating depiction of the afterlife. It is an eye-opening and heartrending story that depicts the difficulties some of us have in accepting new circumstances, including death. Well-written, the story has a complex protagonist, an intriguing plot, and a thought-provoking storyline. Dramatic and intense, the story arc builds to a surprising and satisfying conclusion. The main character, Frances, expects to live until she turns a hundred and is very frustrated when she discovers she died. Realistically portrayed, Frances's behavior and reactions to her sudden demise are natural. It is a stunning book that promises to captivate those who enjoy stories with an irascible female protagonist.