Ever find yourself facing an ever-mounting pile of dirty dishes and existential dread? Feeling crushed by anxiety and the minivan that just rear-ended you? Are you tired of pretending to be a recently-deceased Catholic church secretary who died under suspicious circumstances? If you answered yes to all of these questions, then your name must be Gilda, and Emily Austin’s debut novel, Everyone in this Room Will Someday Be Dead is most likely written about you!
Despite the less-than-cheerful title and decidedly morbid subject matter (there’s a lot of deep-thinking about death in this one), I found this short novel an anxiety-ridden delight to read. The story opens with Gilda, our chronically unemployed and neurotic main character getting rear-ended and making her way to the hospital where she’s such a frequent visitor that she’s on a first-name basis with the staff. In order to get help with her anxiety she decides to attend some free counselling at a Catholic church but is mistaken by the priest as a job applicant. After assuring Father Jeff that she “knows about the Internet” and is definitely Catholic (she’s an atheist), she’s hired.
Despite not having the energy to shower most days, Gilda is so committed to not getting fired from this job that she fully commits herself to playing the role of a Catholic secretary. She reins in her swearing, tries to read the bible, and begrudgingly dates a man to avert suspicions from her sexual orientation. Gilda even takes up corresponding with the previous and now-deceased secretary’s friend…by signing off her emails as Grace (the deceased secretary). But, when it’s revealed that Grace died under suspicious circumstances, Gilda finds herself pulled even deeper into her new fake reality.
Though the content is serious, Gilda’s take on what’s happening around her is humourous and relatable to those of us who overthink. Readers have the privilege of seeing the world through her eyes and following along with her thoughts – which often derail into memories that range from charming to deranged. If you are looking for a read that takes you neatly from point A to point B – this is not the book for you. If you want a novel that takes you on a quick ride with 42 stops, 7 layovers and a somewhat morbid destination, then Emily Austin’s latest novel Everyone in this Room Will Someday Be Dead is a book you won’t regret borrowing!