REVIEW: Funeral with a View by Matt Schiariti

funeral with a view“Thirty-two-year-old Richard Franchitti didn’t believe in love at first sight until he met free-spirited Catherine and started a brand new life. A devoted father and husband, Richard fought to keep his family together when it would have been easier to walk away.

Tragedy left him with unfinished business.

Now a disembodied spirit, Richard relives his most important days. From the beginnings of unconditional love, to the joy of his daughter’s birth, and all of the difficult times in between, each treasured moment brings him closer to answering the question: ‘Why am I still here?’

He was born Richard Franchitti, but his friends call him Ricky. Welcome to his funeral.” –Amazon.com

As I read the opening scene of Funeral with a View, I braced myself for a depressing read. After all, it’s hard to expect a happy ending when the main character starts off the book by dying. But Matt Schiariti’s second full-length novel surprised me by being both less gloomy and more heart-wrenching than I expected.

Ricky and Cat are ordinary people, and their story is an ordinary one, with a few twists. What makes it extraordinary is the way it’s told. Ricky is the narrator of his own story, from beyond the grave—or, to be more accurate, slightly above it. The chapters switch between scenes of Ricky observing his own viewing and graveside service and extended flashbacks of the years before his untimely death-by-beer-truck. Schiariti ties each flashback into the current events in such a way that the story flows smoothly: past and present each inform the other, adding emotional depth to the story as a whole.

Another distinguishing feature of the narrative is Ricky’s voice. Even when he’s observing the events taking place rather than participating in them, it’s impossible to mistake him for some nondescript voice-over; his individuality comes through in unique speech patterns, expressions, and metaphors that both fit the character and enrich our view of him.

By the end of the book I was invested, engrossed, and, as Schiariti no doubt intended, a bit wrecked. The story did manage to end on a slightly uplifting, even hopeful note, which somehow made it all the more gutting. In the hands of another author, this tale might have fallen tragically flat—in Schiariti’s, it’s one that I’ll no doubt pick up again the next time I need a cathartic cry.

Title: Funeral with a View
Author: Matt Schiariti
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Price: $3.99 (Kindle)
Author’s Website: http://mattschiariti.blogspot.com/

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