Pretend I’m Dead: A Novel by Jen Beagin


“Sorry,” he said. “I’ve made you uncomfortable with my creepy honesty.” He shook his head again.

“Not at all,” she said. “I’m actually a fan of creepy honesty.”

Mona is in her early twenties, minus all the bright-eyed ambition she’s ‘supposed’ to be filled with. When she isn’t cleaning houses she is handing out clean needles to drug addicts and falling hard for one, a man she calls ‘Mr. Disgusting’  Sharing an elevator in his building with a couple of crackheads should be enough to deter her, but instead she feels like a gift sent down just for him. Of course the ‘older and wiser’ in us thinks, no Mona- what are you doing?! Wayward child! But everyone must be free to make their own mistakes. He has a lot to teach her, full of his own ancient pain, their time together is raw and when it comes to its dramatic conclusion, his vision of her in Taos is the push she needs to head there.

In New Mexico she meets a New Age couple she calls Yoko and Yoko, as they welcome her into their lives she is surrounded by wisdom, healing energy and a lot of passionate hunger in their eyes, or is she reading the signs wrong? Being around both Nigel and Shiori (Yoko and Yoko) and listening to their stories gives rise to her own childhood memories and family. Her father, a man she long ago tried to close off out of her life, is in her head again. Mona finds work again as a cleaner, and among her clients are a woman who collects angels, a ‘supposed’ psychic in a trailer and a single father with a teen daughter she snoops around, confusing everything until she is sure he is guilty of all perverse acts.

Through it all, she is strangely inspired to make an effort, to join the world of the living, to get off her belly and stop feeling sorry for herself. In the beginning Mona is dangerously adrift, too ready to let another lead her, and it’s lucky for her that Mr. Disgusting’s vision of where she belongs forces her on an inner journey of sorts. The characters are all interesting and fun, they are the kind of people who give you pause, who seem so incredibly out there, and yet make more sense than ‘practical folks.’ The sort of people who come into a life just when they are needed most, there is hope. Maybe Mona isn’t doomed to drift through her entire life, after all.

This is a book for the young as much as the old. For the disaffected and the harmonious, for the sarcastic and the courtesy, the healthy and the wounded… okay, okay… just add it to your summer reading list!

Publication Date: May 18, 2018



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