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  • Writer's pictureKaecey McCormick

From the Bookshelves: Pretend I'm Dead

Every once in a while, a book comes along that grabs me by the throat and won’t let go. Pretend I’m Dead by Jen Beagin is one of these.

Jen Beagin’s debut novel (book description below my signature) takes risks, tackles dark topics, and makes the reader laugh out loud as we meet the main character, emotionally struggling almost twenty-four-year-old Mona, who works as a cleaning person in a city about an hour outside of Boston. When she falls for a man nearly twice her age that she meets at the needle exchange where she volunteers, the story begins.

The man, who she dubs Mr. Disgusting, breaks her heart in more ways than one, she takes his advice and heads to Taos, New Mexico. There she begins her own cleaning business, and as we follow Mona through other people’s houses, we learn about her past and its lasting effects on her internal landscape.

The book is both funny and tragic, and the flip voice of the narrator creates room to explore the destructive and painful emotions lying beneath the surface. I was drawn in both by the characters as well as the writing and structure. This is one that begs to be discussed with other readers, and if you read the novel, I’d love to hear what you think.

Have you read Pretend I’m Dead? Tell me what you think in the comments on this post or by contacting me directly! And if you’ve read something that’s grabbed you by the throat, share it with me—I’m always on the lookout for my next read.


Author photo by Franco Vogt

Winner, 2020 Colorado Book Award in Literary Fiction 2018

Named a Best Book of the Year by O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE, REFINERY 29, and KIRKUS REVIEWS

Book Description:

Mona, the protagonist, is a 24-year-old who works as a professional cleaning lady with her legal guardian, Sheila. She floats through life, rather numb, yet still searches for someone to hold onto. At the onset of the story, that someone is Mr. Disgusting, a middle-aged heroin addict she meets while volunteering giving out clean needles. He’s caught her eye, and she’s intrigued. He disappears for a while, and she worries that he’s either in prison, rehab or the ground… although we don’t feel particularly great about Mr. Disgusting --- the relationship seems sort of doomed from the start --- we are interested in how this romance will develop. We are lured into the taboo love story of a couple with a large age gap and so much baggage that it can hardly fit.


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