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Love and broccoli

Cover of Mrs. Nash's Ashes
A review of Mrs. Nash's Ashes by Sarah Adler

"Rose McIntyre Nash died peacefully in her sleep at the age of ninety-eight, and now I carry part of her with me wherever I go. I do not mean that figuratively. She's inside a small wooden box tucked away in my backpack as we speak. Not all of her, of course. Geoffrey Nash wasn't about to hand over his entire grandmother to the weird girl who lived in her spare bedroom. But Geoffrey was kind enough to give me three tablespoons of her ashes (again, not figurative; he portioned her out with a measuring spoon from the kitchen)."

Ashes safely stashed in her backpack, Millicent "Millie" Watts-Cohen is now on a cross-country trip to fulfill a last request and crashing into the life of Hollis Hollenbeck. Millie starts out trying to fly from D.C. to Florida and it's in the airport where she runs into Hollis. Though they've met before, Hollis says he doesn't remember. Millie is content to leave it at that until a computer glitch grounds all flights and Hollis becomes her only route south. He has a car and she does not. And if Hollis is reluctant to take this weird, sunshine-y girl on? He also knows he can't leave her to find a ride with a random stranger. Thus the road-trip romance of a grumpy-sunshine pairing (you know how much I love those) begins.

Forced proximity is a popular trope with readers (this one among them) as it means the protagonists are one-on-one for good chunks of the novel. Dialogue becomes make or break in these novels. It's definitely "make" for Adler's debut. The conversations between Hollis and Millie are sparkly and funny and poignant and all the things that work. I delighted in every exchange. And if the secondary romance didn't quite gel for me, I was hooked nonetheless. If you're heading out on a trip this summer, this would be perfect to take along.

May 23, 2023