by Steven Rowley

Steven Rowley has done it again. I adored his book, The Guncle, and couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one. I listened to the audiobook, which he reads himself, and makes it even more of a treat. This book is friendship fiction at its finest. It features an ensemble cast of friends who meet during an orientation for transfer students at UC Berkeley and wind up becoming lifelong friends. The main theme is found family.

During college, they are mourning the passing of one of their friends, and they make a pact that they will hold a sort of funeral for each one of them while they are still alive, so they can tell that person how wonderful they are, and how they feel about them, and have nothing left unsaid. A celebration of life (hence the name The Celebrants). The book then unfolds in modern day, with each character deciding when to hold his or her funeral.

The book is wickedly funny at times, beautifully written, and covers deep introspective subjects while also making you laugh. Each character is so distinct and has such wonderful backstory. I sort of wished I could attend one of their still-living funerals, hang out with them, and enjoy a drink. Cheers to the celebrants!