By the Time You Read This

By the Time You Read This

by Lola Jaye


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Already a national bestseller in the U.K., Lola Jaye’s By the Time You Read This is a profoundly beautiful story of a father’s abiding love for the daughter he will never see grow up—and his determination to help guide her through the difficult crossroads and crises of her life even after his own passing. Poignant and unforgettable, evoking in part The Pursuit of Happyness and The Last Lecture, By the Time You Read This celebrates a remarkable bond of love that can never be broken, not even by death.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061733833
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/18/2009
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 782,773
Product dimensions: 5.38(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.78(d)

About the Author

Lola Jaye was born and raised in London, England, where she still makes her home; she has also lived briefly in Nigeria. By the Time You Read This—Lola's first U.S. novel—was published by HarperCollins in 2009. Her inspirational essay "Reaching for the Stars: How You Can Make Your Dreams Come True," in which she charted her journey from foster child to author, was released in 2009 as part of the U.K.'s wildly popular Quick Reads program.

Read an Excerpt

By the Time You Read This

Chapter One

The Manual

Mom's marrying some prick she met down at bingo.

Apparently they fell in love as he called out "Legs eleven" in a smoke-filled hall in Lewisham, packed with bored house-wives ticking off paper boxes. Eyes down, cross off a number and another, until some wailing overweight woman shouts "House!" to anyone who gives a damn. I hate them. I hate bingo. And sometimes I hate Mom. But most of all, I hate him. For ordering me about, telling me to call him Dad, for pretending to be my dad and, most of all, for not being my dad.

You see, my dad's dead.

Some illness I couldn't even pronounce finished him off about seven years ago in 1983 when I was five and he was thirty.

But we don't talk about that.

We hardly even talk about him any more, really?.?.?.?

Sitting on the edge of the bed, Doc Martens feet swinging in time to my croaky hum of the Brookside theme tune, I shook my ridiculously ringleted hair that had taken ages to style and stunk of Dax hair grease and let out an exaggerated puff of air. I was fed-up. Almost a teenager, yet there I was clad in a frilly yellow dress that allowed me to resemble a pavlova. I wished I could just disappear. Maybe travel down the rec with best friend...or change the habit of a lifetime and happily start some homework, complete with the seven dwarfs' whistle. In fact, I'd do almost anything to avoid this crappy, stupid, pathetic "wedding of the year."

"Lois!" Mom called in a squeaky voice.

"What?" I replied with a sigh, my eyes darting to heaven.

"Excuse me, young lady?"

"I mean, yes, Mommy?" I replied inthe cutest little voice I could pull off.

The door to my PRIVATE (-couldn't she read the sign on the door?) sanctuary swung open. "Are you ready yet, Lois? We've got to be at the registry for eleven and it's already nine forty-five!"

I checked out my mother in her wedding gear, glad she looked almost as tragic as I did. Thick blue eye-shadow in a tug of war with an off-white, two-piece mess with puffed sleeves. Puffed sleeves! It was 1990! Who did that any more? The silver shoes didn't help matters either, along with the backcombed hairstyle, perhaps more at home on a schizo poodle!

"I'm nearly ready," I replied sweetly, but with a spot of annoyance lurking round the corner. I swung off my bed, quickly locating the pink dolly shoes she'd bought just to humiliate me that little bit more. I didn't care about most people, but Carla and her brother Corey would be at the wedding to witness my shame and that just wasn't fair.

"You look so adorable!" gushed Mom, and for one ridiculous second I convinced myself she was going to cry.

"Er, thanks?" I mumbled, pulling off my worn DMs to slip into the dolly shoes, my little right toe recoiling in instant pain as it connected with the hard plastic. Only last week, I found out my right foot was longer than the left. I'm totally deformed!

"Come on then, let's go, Lois." I ignored the invite of Mom's hand as it came at me like a weapon. "I don't want to be late for my big day, now, do I?"

This summer was one of the hottest on record, which I could believe if my dress, currently sticking to me like flies to dog poo, was anything to go by. The heat rash that ensued meant that I scratched and tugged the dress all the way through the vows and exchanging of rings. Mercifully, the ser-vice was short. Unfortunately, the reception (held in a restaurant that stank of disinfectant) lasted a lot longer than necessary. Boring stories floating around the room like confetti. And what with the kisses, hugs, dull speeches and hard squeezes from sweaty relatives I'd never even set eyes on before, things grew shoddier by the millisecond. Worse still, Carla remained cocooned between her dad and brother on a table miles from mine. It was a total nightmare of a day, growing extra tragic the minute Granny Morris drew what little strength she had to shove me onto the dance floor for a slow dance! Eeek/Eeew! The experience of dancing with Granny Morris reminded me of one of those horror films Mom wouldn't let me watch, but I'd catch next door with Carla and Corey...only much, much worse.

I had finally managed to escape another "I remember when you were a little girl" tale, about to join Carla and Corey in sneaking outside, when out of the shadows of balloons, streamers and "The Birdie Song," a new guest appeared.

She was beautiful, with thick black braids cascading down her slimline back like a glossy rug. Unlike Mom's attempt at fashion, this lady wore a simple flowery shift dress and plain rounded hat that looked a bit like a full moon on her obviously gorgeous head. She smiled at me and, instantly, my mood lifted.

She walked toward me and I realized it was my Auntie real dad's sister. Her showing up was a massive surprise, especially as I hadn't seen her in ages. So instead of running outside to, I dunno, argue this week's top forty with my friends, I stood before this glamorous aunt of mine, waiting for something intelligent to pop into my head.

"Hello, Lois."

"Hello," I replied, sounding like a total geek.

"You look lovely."

I stared at her full lips, which looked pilfered from some unsuspecting model in a glossy magazine, and I began to wonder, did she act like him? Laugh like him? Think like him? I could only remember a handful of things about my dad. Stupid stuff, like the tiny mole just under his right eyelid.

"Auntie Philomena?"

"You remember me, then? I really wasn't sure if you would. I'm glad, though. Really pleased."

"No, well, I don't remember you THAT much?.?.?." I said, annoyed. Of course I remembered her. Unlike Dad's younger sister Ina, Auntie Philomena called me up a few times a year...mostly birthdays and Christmas. She even sent the odd hideous blouse, pictures or a lump of spice cake wrapped securely in tin foil through the post, when I'm sure a visit would have been more hygienic? But, apart from Mom making me travel up to Granny Bates once a year, I didn't really have that much full on contact with my dad's side of the family. And I was okay with that. Really, I was?.?.?.?I am.

I crunched a knuckle.

"I'm sorry," she said.

"For what?" I shrugged.

"For not being around much. I live pretty far away. And the kids?.?.?."

By the Time You Read This. Copyright © by Lola Jaye. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Lisa Jewell

“A lovely, exuberant tearjerker of a book, perfect for curling up with on a wet afternoon.”

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By the Time You Read This 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At first it took me awhile to get into the book, but after getting into it more I fell in love. It worked at my heart with every single page. I loved everything about it, it really showed me how lucky I am to have a father. Besides that this book could still teach every single person a lesson of what the world has to offer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a definate must read. From the Lois's highest highs and lowest lows the advise of her fathers is so beautiful. Definately shows a fathers love even when he is not there and barely knew his daughter. I highly reccomend it !
TiffanyPetersen More than 1 year ago
Have you ever lived a life without a parent? Well if you haven’t this book gives you an idea of what it would be like to live your life without that important role in your life. It helps you understand the pain a person goes thru. When Kevin finds out he only had about six months to live he started writing his five year old daughter Lois a guideline to her life, he called it The Manual. When Lois turns twelve years old she is given The Manual by her aunt that she hasn’t seen in many years. Kevin has written guidelines for his daughter of his opinions and ways on how to live her life and ideas on how to solve the problems that life brings with it. He understands how hard it will be for her to grow up without a father in her life. The Manual is only to be read each year on Lois’s birthday, and to be read by her eyes only. Looking for love is hard especially when you don’t have a father to show his affection towards your mother, and help you understand how a man should treat a woman, being a young lady Lois should have been able to look up at her parents and know that she would want a fairytale like that. As Lois grows up she is never open to a relationship and is “better off being alone”, her father is the only man she has come to love. She learns that life doesn’t always go the way you would like it to but it’s only what you make of it. The Manual will never make up for her father, but it is a piece of him she can always have with her. Lois’s best friends Corey and Carla always help her thru her tough times, and help her realize she can’t always hide be hide her manual. The Manual is what has been keeping Lois strong thru all her ups and downs in life from age twelve to thirty. As Lois comes to the end of The Manual, she realizes her father only wished the best for her, and loved her “with stars on”. After reading the last section of The Manual Lois is heartbroken to know that this is where her father’s life has come to an end and she can no longer have guidelines to read on each of her birthday, but she knows she can always come back and reread what her father had written to keep him in her heart. Lois also comes to open her eyes to all the opportunities that lye ahead of her, she opens her heart to a man, and gets her own kind of happily ever after.
Taylor Givant More than 1 year ago
This is honestly my favorite book of all time and really made me realize how short life is and how grateful i am to have the dad that i have. I totally cried reading this book!
InsignificantReader More than 1 year ago
This book definitely touched me. One good quote that would probably make you tear up is from Kevin (the father), "And I'm sorry to say Lois, that by the time you read this, I won't be with you anymore." Don't get me wrong, it's also witty and funny! Definitely a good read or gift to a more younger person.
hd91364 More than 1 year ago
I think this book should be categorized as a young adult read. It's immaturely written, and would best be enjoyed by a teenager, I'd think. The potential was there for this to be very moving, yet humorous, but it just didn't get there. While set in England, it annoyed me that the publisher had used Americanisms throughout - it detracted from the atmosphere. Do they think Americans so stupid as to not understand English words? For example, flat = apartment, pence = cents.
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The premise of the story held a lot of promise - father dies young but leaves behind a notebook full of letters to his daughter. Unfortunately, the execution of the story just wasn't quite what it could have been. Despite a mother who loves her and people around her to care for her, Lois refuses to get close to anyone - the result of losing her father at five. She continues this pattern WAY past the time when she should have begun to mature out of this. The story is told from Lois' viewpoint and it is faulty, so the reader has to imagine what the other characters are really like. As a first novel, it is pretty good, but I look forward to seeing what Ms. Jaye can do as she continues her writing.
SallyApollon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
By the Time You Read This by Lola JayeSally ApollonOverall Score: 7.5 out of 10It¿s strange that I chose a second book in succession with two separate narratives ongoing¿anyhow; it was not my intention and of course it served a different purpose here. But in comparison, it was an effective device for building the two characters of Father & Daughter. One result of this method was that as the book neared it¿s end I found that I had the same feeling of ¿not wanting the book to end¿ that Lois in her late 20s was experiencing. To her it represented a repetition of loss and I could keenly sense that. Lois was an interesting teenage girl, and I found it intriguing to see her grow into a well-defended (emotionally) young woman. By this, I mean that she had many characteristics that enabled her to not get too close to anyone, it really wasn¿t difficult to see, from our perspective that she had built these defenses because of the deep loss (abandonment) that she felt by her father¿s death. She had a deep sense of inadequacy, that her mother didn¿t seem to do much to address, (indeed she often made it worse) which to me accounted for her willingness to put up with any amount of bad behaviour towards her from Carla. It also prevented her from pushing harder for a relationship with Corey, who she clearly adored; but was so well-defended she wouldn¿t even admit it to herself. Her unwillingness to be vulnerable seemed to underline her succession of disastrous relationships. I have to ask myself the question: was ¿The Manual¿ really useful to her?? I think the great irony of the book is that only once she finishes the Manual does she really begin to start living life¿as life can really only be learned by living, not by a long list of ¿do¿s & don¿t¿s¿. So, ironically, her Father actually prevented her from growing up, by engendering an artificial dependence on his flawed ¿wisdom¿. She failed to see him as human and fallible¿rudely exposed as such finally by her mother. It was also ironic to me that for all her father¿s earnest urging otherwise, she was truly unable to forgive her mother for loving a man other than her ¿perfect¿ father, until her father¿s Manual was done and her mother had to hit her with a hefty reality check. Lois was unable even to refer to her step-father (¿Bingo-caller¿) by his real name or try to build a friendship with him. I would expect this from a teenage girl, but a young woman in her mid-twenties¿I would expect a little more of. Her blindness to her own defensiveness also prevented her from building a better relationship with her sister, (Abbi)¿this really was selfish of her; however, I do think it was a realistic account of someone in her situation and, to her credit, she did notice and try to rectify this.I also have to say a word or two about Lois¿s career¿it was almost a character itself! It was interesting to me how she determinedly grew her career, making opportunistic moves and how her IT career died a death with the collapse of the ecomony and her well-defended psyche. It was a huge relief to see her find creative outlet and commercial-career success in one swoop with the redirection of her talents into photography. I was jealous! To make a major career transition like that is a huge leap of faith¿or a lucky act of a desperate woman. Oh and I have to say that when I got the book, I thought the fact that she was biracial would figure into the story in some way, as in bullied or discriminated against¿and I was actually pleasantly surprised to see that it didn¿t. It was just an incidental fact of life for her and not really one in a long list of woes, or reason for her to feel worse about anything¿you can imagine that this was noticeable to me. Overall, I really liked it, it was pleasantly readable, moving at times & I did celebrate her triumphs with her. I really wanted her to do well, if I must fault it the ending came pretty quickly & the ends all got tied up a little too
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You won't be sorry if u purchase. I really enjoyed this book, little different but interesting!
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Britt i got kicked on result 1. Go to result 2.
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