When my dear friend/Overlord Damian asked me to read and review Save Send Delete, by Danusha V. Goshka, my main reaction was, "Eeehhhh." I tend to have a personal bias against faith-based literature, if only because I have issues with any material that comes across as preachy or pushy. I agreed only because I was assured and promised that it wasn't like that at all, and that the main protagonist is a Polish-American Catholic. (Woot! Represent!)
To summarize, Mira is a professor at an American university. While watching a TV show, she sees an aristocratic English scholar with a ridiculously long name, which she shortens to "Rand," preaching about atheism and how it is an absolute truth. (Gee, that's not common at all these days. *takes sarcastic sip of wine*) She writes him a hilariously witty, combative and ridiculing email, calling him out on his crap and insisting on her right to present her counterargument as a devoted Christian. To her equally hilarious shock, he replies. This starts a long correspondence that is both humorous and meaningful and brings to light a variety of questions about life and the never-ending journey of faith.
I've read the book twice, and I can soberly say that I am pleasantly surprised. Initially, I had a hard time following the format of the book, which is written in the style of emails composed by Mira, with little snippets from her friend Amanda. This is definitely a novel of the digital age. The book requires the reader to sort of fill in the blanks, because we never hear from any other person. I also got just the slightest bit annoyed that there were times I wasn't sure to whom an email was addressed. True, it's a realistic sort of format when compiling emails (I mean, who really writes "Dear _____" every time she writes an email?), but at least have the "To: AmandaPanda@yahoo.com, From: PolishMira@gmail.com Re: UGH" or something like that. The first time I read the book, I spent more time figuring out whom Mira was writing to than the heart of what was being said in the email exchange.
That being said, I raise my wine glass to Danusha Goshka for using the email format to her advantage in shaping Mira's personality. I really loved how she indicated which emails she would save, send or delete. (See how I included the title in my review? That was awesome. I deserve another glass of wine for that.) A couple of pages of babbling starts, and blank, unsent emails are deleted one after the other. ("Dear Rand" [Delete] "Dear Rand" [Delete] Blank email [Delete] and so on) This was beautifully relatable and really allowed the reader to get a feel of Mira. There was one part where Mira wrote, "You're very funny. Even when you're being a radioactive, mutant, asshole." But what she sent was, "You're very funny." Rand probably never got those deleted emails, but the reader gained insight into Mira's life and world as much by what she didn't say as much as by what she did say.
Let's talk about Mira for a bit. This slightly tipsy reader truly appreciates her unique insults and proper use of profanity, as that was the last thing I expected in this book. She's clever and stubborn, never backing down from Rand's challenges to her faith. She throws challenges right back at him, all while considering his point of view on a variety of subjects. Her emails paint a raw picture of her, showing how a heavy past shaped her views and molded her to the person we get to know. Mira's faith is beautifully portrayed. I found it surprisingly easy to relate to her own struggles and trials in her faith, despite how vastly different they are from my own. Goshka has a talent for composing the emails in such an honest and revealing manner, yet never crossing that line where you have to question if it's really something someone would confess to someone outside of God. In her emails to Rand, Mira shows just how well-read she is when discussing religions and beliefs. I especially loved how she refuses to judge an entire religious group based on the actions of a few. (Side note: If you do that, you're a dumbass.) My favorite line in this entire book was, "People suck, Rand. That's my first noble truth." I literally screamed in glee at that line, particularly at how perfectly it was delivered in the context of the argument. By the end of the book, I had decided that Mira is worthy to share a bottle of wine with while sitting on my balcony and laughing our respectable behinds off.
It wasn't until I read the book a second time around that I truly appreciated the development of Mira and Rand's relationship. It was well-paced and not entirely predictable. She didn't take any of his crap, yet was never unnecessarily aggressive or pushy toward him. She held her own against his arguments and refused to let him twist her words or put words in her mouth. Their relationship is tremulous — and at some points flat-out hostile — but at the same time, neither can walk away from the other. The fact that they only knew each other through a computer screen and a keyboard gave them a sort of freedom to say things that they otherwise wouldn't be able to as freely. The conflicting affection and attraction that develops gets bonus points for being more realistic, rather than cliché, with a different ending than I initially expected.
And so, I deem Save Send Delete worthy of two bottles of wine and a box of Belgian chocolate. The faith-centered arguments were not preachy but rather, took on a more informative and personal tone so that just about anyone could relate to it. It takes a few tries to get into the format of the book and get used to it, but it pays off in the end. I will admit that I am desperately curious as to what exactly Rand said to her in his emails, but I suppose the air of mystery and guesswork is what gives this novel a great foundation.
Now, go and read it. If you don't, I shan't share this delicious wine with you.
Buy Save Send Delete on Amazon
Buy Save Send Delete on Amazon