Mrs. Nash is dead.
I mean, at least, you'd hope Mrs. Nash is dead when you read Mrs. Nash's Ashes by Sarah Adler; otherwise, it'd be a very macabre tale and not the cartoon-cover romance you know it'll be from...well...the cover.
All of that is to say that Mrs. Nash is dead, and her much younger best friend and roommate Millicent has vowed to reunite her with her long lost love, Elsie, who Mrs. Nash tragically lost touch with in the 1950s. That's how we meet Millie: carrying around three tablespoons of Mrs. Nash's ashes as she plans her Memorial Day weekend trip to bring said ashes from her (and Mrs. Nash's) home in Washington DC to Elsie, who is now on hospice care in a nursing home in Key West.
Unfortunately for Millie, her flight, along with countless others, has been grounded due to a computer glitch. You can imagine the chaos that ensues in an airport when dozens of flights are cancelled at once. Millie, and everyone else inside the airport, storms the rental car agencies, who, of course, run out of cars before Millie can snag one. She's about to take a chance on bumming a ride with Mike, an older rando in line with her, when an old acquaintance intervenes (for the second time that day): Hollis Hollenbeck, who happened to also be stranded at her gate as he was on his way to Key West for a...grown up hug with a friend with benefits. *wink*
Millie and Hollis agree to drive to Key West together, in Hollis' car, and everything is going well until they get to South Carolina and are hit by a deer. You read that right. THEY GET HIT BY A DEER. (This actually happened to my husband when we were dating so I'm thinking that this isn't actually as rare of an occurrence as you'd think?) Thankfully (we think?) the deer is fine, as the small town local vet steps in because of course they ended up in a town straight out of a Hallmark movie. And wouldn't you know it? There's an empty room at the local Bed and Breakfast! The only problem? You guessed it...one bed. Oh, and because their hosts are Christian without being super obnoxious about it (other than the one available room being decked out wall to wall in portraits of various Jesuses, that is), Hollis blurts out that they're married so that they won't "upset the locals" about an unwed couple sharing a room.
Fake married and one bed? I die.
Oh, I should also mention: Millie is a total weirdo dweeb in the best, most sunshiney way possible, and Hollis is an eternal cynic who's working on a novel...aka: a gruuuump! That's right! It's a grumpy x sunshine trope, babies!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It was surprisingly deep for at first seeming low stakes. I very much appreciated, as always, the trigger warnings at the beginning of the book. It's something we discuss on the podcast frequently, but I am so thankful to see content warnings becoming more and more common in books! This book expertly describes grief, from both perspectives of those grieving, and of those there to love and support the bereaved. It highlights the ebb and flow of grief; how in one moment you can be in a fetal position, sobs wracking your body, certain that you'll never find your way out, and in the next moment, you're belly laughing remembering something your late loved one said or did. It also showcases the sometimes helpless feelings of those there caring for the grieving, in different ways and situations. I just have to say it: Dick Nash is a king, and we love and adore him. What a gem, truly!
I also absolutely freaking adored Millie. She was so quirky and odd and trusting of people and optimistic and I just related to her so much. Her taste in movies, music, her whole vibe reminded me of parts of myself, especially when traveling on long car rides with my husband. It truly was a joy to read her inner monologue.
I was also struck by how lovely the time jumps back to Elsie and Rosie (Mrs. Nash) were, and the slight twist that I didn't see coming at all was such unique thing that was actually so perfect for the story and made me question any ounce of talent I thought I might have as a writer. Seriously, bravo!
I left this book with so much respect for Millie, so much so that even if this book had had an alternate ending that you think is taking place on the page, I would have been equally as happy with the ending. I'm telling you, this MC is just that lovable, and you want her to be her happiest self regardless of any external relationships.
This journey was so fun, quick, and deep (that's what she said!) and I was so invested in the story that I was surprised when I flipped and found I'd reached the last page.
Mrs. Nash's Ashes by Sarah Adler is the perfect road trip read! Don't believe me? Grab your copy here and see for yourself--it's out in the world now!
Love and airport cinnamon rolls,
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review with my honest feedback. If you purchase a copy using my Amazon affiliate link above, I will receive a small commission which I will use to justify my literary addictions and to spoil my dogs (probably).