In My Next Life I’ll Get It Right is a light-hearted, eclectic assemblage of brief personal essays, loosely organized into categories by over-arching theme or setting. Topics cover the waterfront. There are anecdotes from Mild’s “senior” decade, life with husband and writing partner, Larry Mild, reflections on being a proud grandmother, and chance encounters with illustrious people, including meeting the late, beloved Alex Trebek and auditioning for Jeopardy, the popular game show he hosted. Many of Mild’s “essays” might be more accurately termed anecdotes, with the focus on an amusing observation or encounter, absent the speculative, interpretative or reflective elements that often accompany the essay form.
Many of the collection’s vignettes are snapshots of day-to-day moments and chance conversations. With a wealth of life experiences and adventures to draw from, keen observation skills, and boundless curiosity, Rosemary Mild seems to stumble upon humor, intrigue, and plenty to write about—at the grocery store, while waiting in line at the deli counter, walking down the street, seemingly wherever she finds herself.
The collection’s first, and longest, section—Hawaii Adventures—is comprised of literary snapshots of the Milds’ life in Hawaii, where the couple spent winters for twenty years before permanently relocating to Honolulu from Maryland in 2013. A number of Rosemary’s memorable Hawaii stories are the result of her self-proclaimed gregarious nature. She enjoys engaging strangers in conversation, with amusing, surprising and informative results.
The book’s last section is devoted to memories of daughter Miriam, one of the 270 passengers and crew who tragically lost their lives on bombed Pan Am flight 103 in 1988. These heartfelt, moving essays are more expansive than many of the others in the collection, full of reflection and expressions of faith, gratitude, and love.
While the author has experienced more than her share of grief, her abiding joie de vivre and generous, optimistic nature shine through. In My Next Life I’ll Get It Right is an enjoyable read for those contemplating a move to the islands as well as those who prefer their personal essays sunny side up. Readers seeking a range of emotions, food for thought, or a unique or surprising perspective, might be disappointed by this abidingly optimistic, slice-of-life assemblage.