Alex Dorenfield, 29, and her little dog Peaches have just died after being run over by a car during a late night walk. This is the bad news. The good news is that they’ve gone to heaven where she is reunited with her beloved grandparents, given the house of her childhood dreams and meets the cutest neighbor ever. The afterlife looks to be good until her guardian angel breaks the news that Alex has only been deposited on the coveted 7th level of heaven on a trial basis because she died so young. There is some concern about how she lived her life and where it was going and until she writes an essay about the 10 best days of her short life on Earth, she might not be able to stay and may be relegated to the 4th level of heaven (which is good, but not nearly as good as 7). So Alex begins a journey of remembering her life, her mistakes, her happiest moments and her worst.
A book about a person who died young and lived a rather trivial life could very easily veer into the maudlin and I wasn’t quite sure I was going to enjoy it. The main character, Alex, is a bit of a silly and spoiled girl. She was raised in wealth and her struggles are surface-based at best. It would be very easy for her to become unlikeable, but somehow Halpern manages to infuse her character with a sincerity and joy that is infectious. Although she wasn’t curing cancer or saving the world from hunger, the reader is soon wrapped up in the days she chooses as her best and rooting for her to stay in 7th Heaven. And perhaps that’s the lesson, sometimes we are the people who save the world, sometimes we just do little things to make it a bit nicer for others. Both sorts of people have value.
The secondary characters in the book also add a lot to the story. Alex’s parents and her strained relationship with them is compelling and her grandparents are adorable. The weakest link is the guy she meets. He’s a nice enough fellow, but he seems to just be handed to her, rather than a real connection formed between them. He redeems himself as a character in the end when he offers Alex some advice that helps her find her way, but their romance was a bit forced.
However, on the whole, this book is a light and warm look into what a good day means, how not-so-good things can lead to massively life-changing events and ultimately how it is love that means the most to us in life and even in death. It made me laugh, it made me cry and there’s very little else you can ask for in a story. I give it an enthusiastic 4 stars.
"The ten best days of my life"
By: Adena Halpern
Rating: 4 out of 5
Price: $14 paperback/
$11.99 Kindle & Nook