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59 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So I have a new favorite book...
Doug Parker is a widower. A beautiful, slim, sad man who is obsessed with mourning his wife and being consumed with grief. A year after his wife's death in a plane crash, Doug finds himself unwilling to move on. His job as a magazine writer affords him the sort of solitary lifestyle wherein he doesn't need to even leave his house to go to work. He can sit at home, drown...
Published on July 29, 2007 by K. Hinton

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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars ROUGH DRAFT
Having read and enjoyed this author's latest book, This Is Where I Leave You, I picked up this earlier Tropper novel. The protagonist - our widower - is 29 year old Doug Parker, a somewhat likeable ne'er do well, who is a year into grieving the tragic death of his wife. Doug is not handling his loss well, wallowing in self-pity, (and booze), and barely paying attention...
Published on July 10, 2011 by JoeV


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59 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So I have a new favorite book..., July 29, 2007
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Doug Parker is a widower. A beautiful, slim, sad man who is obsessed with mourning his wife and being consumed with grief. A year after his wife's death in a plane crash, Doug finds himself unwilling to move on. His job as a magazine writer affords him the sort of solitary lifestyle wherein he doesn't need to even leave his house to go to work. He can sit at home, drown his sorrows in Jack Daniels, avoid phone calls from his friends and family, and mourn. Because what else is a 29-year-old widower supposed to do?

Enter Doug's twin sister, Claire. Claire, notorious for her potty mouth and unwillingness to take no for an answer, is determined that Doug get himself back on the market, the first step of which is to get him laid. Temporarily moving in with him, Claire sets out to find Doug a companion among the rich, suburban divorcees in his neighborhood. Along with Claire comes Doug's stepson, Russ. Since his mother's death, Russ has been getting into more and more trouble at school, smoking pot, and getting tattoos. Though Doug has semi-washed his hands of the situation (he isn't really Russ's stepfather anymore, is he?), he can't help but feel partially responsible as he watches the boy falling apart. Together, these three learn to navigate the twists and turns of grief, familial obligation, and moving on.

When the book starts out Doug is one of the saddest, most broken characters I've ever read, but his wit, self-deprecating charm, and fierce love for his wife make him the sort of man who you just want to put back together again. My heart broke for the shattered remnants of his happiness and, over the course of the novel as I watched him slowly rebuild what he'd lost, I only became more emotionally involved with the story. The supporting characters, most notably Russ and Claire, are also richly drawn and entertaining in a way that makes me appreciate my own dysfunctional family.

Jonathan Tropper's newest novel isn't just a story about grief, though the undertone is there. It's not simply a story about loss, though to discredit its place in the story would be a lie. It's, in the truest sense of the term, a love story. One that broke my heart and threatens to do so again and again because, though I am not a person who rereads books, I already can't wait until enough time has passed that I can read this story again and get lost in the characters, the emotions, and the sense of utter fulfillment I felt when I finished it. This book isn't just good, it's spectacular. It's of a caliber that I would, and will, hand it out as gifts for birthdays and Christmas because it's the type of thing that you just have to pay forward. I don't give out five-star reviews like candy at Halloween, and I don't gush about books just for the sake of doing it, hopefully after reading this review you'll understand what an exceptional book this was and be tempted to try it for yourself.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars ROUGH DRAFT, July 10, 2011
By 
JoeV "Reader" (Arlington Hts, IL) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: How to Talk to a Widower: A Novel (Bantam Discovery) (Paperback)
Having read and enjoyed this author's latest book, This Is Where I Leave You, I picked up this earlier Tropper novel. The protagonist - our widower - is 29 year old Doug Parker, a somewhat likeable ne'er do well, who is a year into grieving the tragic death of his wife. Doug is not handling his loss well, wallowing in self-pity, (and booze), and barely paying attention. The reader spends a lot of time inside Doug's head - actually too much - co-basting in his grief, privy to his happy memories and given a front row seat to his sexual fantasies.

In the real world, Doug has a teenage stepson - the dearly departed Mrs. Parker was 11 years older than her hubby - who shares both Doug's loss and his emotional maturity level. Doug's comedic dysfunctional family is very concerned about him and in their own special way decides to help him out of his funk. This is all very reminiscent of This Is Where I Leave You. In fact this novel reads like an unpolished earlier version of that book and unfortunately, is nowhere near as entertaining.

The specific differences between the two stories are superficial, otherwise the books' plots, characters, family dynamics and even the dialog are very, very much the same. Both read like screenplays - again for the same movie - but with the Widower's protagonist less likeable; the "flow" less even and the "jokes" less funny. (The silly fairy tale ending to Widower doesn't help either.)

So my suggestion - skip this book and read the finished product, This Is Where I Leave You.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Totally readable!, March 18, 2008
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"I had a wife. Her name was Hailey. Now she's gone. And so am I."

Doug Parker is a twenty-nine-year-old widower facing the most painful thing a person could go through: he has lost significant other to a plane crash. His grief runs deep, and he misses his wife more than anything. He is angry with the world, and he believes in no one or in anything. As if his own problems weren't bad enough, he has a stepson going through his own grieving issues. His family is beyond dysfunctional. His twin sister is pregnant and has left her husband; his younger sister is marrying to a man she met when Doug's wife died; his father has a bad case of Dementia and his mother, a former actress, deals with everything by popping tranquilizers like they were candy. Life seems pointless for Doug, but not for the people around him. In his upper-class Connecticut neighborhood, he has become something of a celebrity and a babe magnet. Single women seek him out, desperate housewives seduce him. A struggling writer, he once wrote a magazine column called "How to Talk to a Movie Star." In his grief, his column became "How to Talk to a Widower." And his career seems promising all of a sudden. His columns have become so popular that publishers are offering him gigantic book deals. But none of that matters to Doug. In his mind, he's a screw-up. Always has been, always will be. The one good thing in his life -- his beautiful older wife Hailey -- is gone forever. What is the point of everything else?

Jonathan Tropper is a great writer. His novels are edgy and cutting edge -- his language dark, frank and at times brutal. He is often compared to Nick Hornby, but he's got a great style of his own that makes him stand out among other "lad lit" writers. What I like about How to Talk to a Widower is that Doug is truly sympathetic in spite of his somewhat anti-heroish attitude. He has depth, lots of it, and you feel his pain. His grieving process is very believable. Doug is, in all purposes, a very sensitive man, especially now that he grieves for his beloved wife, and that makes him very appealing to the opposite sex. Tropper has finally created a character whose "I'm a loser" attitude actually works in the storyline, for the heroes in his previous novels come across as whiny and petty for no good reason in comparison. The novel loses momentum in the last several chapters -- the scenes become too melodramatic and Hollywood film-like for my taste -- but the story itself is compelling and addictive and I cannot recommend it enough.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and touching, July 31, 2007
By 
Jonathan Tropper just keeps getting better and better. This book and his last, Everything Changes, are just terrific, fun reads. You wouldn't think that the tale of a young windower having trouble with his grief could make for such a funny and insightful read, but Tropper manages to make this subject neither maudlin nor repetitive. This is both voice- and plot-driven fiction, and Tropper has mastered in each of his novels that cynical male with a hard-shell of sarcasm lying over a sensitive, feeling-full interior. As other reviews will note, the main plot line is about a young widower overcome with grief who also has to deal with the unruly teenager his late wife left behind. In the meantime, he also has an outrageous twin sister who's just left her rich husband because he's boring, another sister whom he's angry with for meeting her fiance at his house when he sat shiva for his wife, an alcoholic mother, and a once brilliant, but now senile, father who shows flashes of his former competence in between episodes of playing baseball in his underwear on his mansion's front lawn. Tropper actually manages to stir this soup of outrageous characters very effectively. There's little subtext here -- all the dramatic situations are right out there and just one step shy of being over the top -- but they're not. It seems to me that he can pull this all off because he has some amazing writing talents. There's a scene of the main character's blind date with a recent divorcee that is told entirely in the chatty woman's voice -- four to five pages of uninterrupted dialogue (in the form of monologue) that gives you a hysterical impression of just how badly the entire night went. The man can turn a phrase -- and while his observations are rarely unique -- that the suburbs are vapid and overly materialistic, as one example -- Tropper has the writing chops to make you marvel at the freshness of the language he uses to convey those opinions. If you're looking for a light, entertaining, very well written read, I highly recommend this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well written character study, July 19, 2007
Twenty-nine years old Doug Parker cannot believe how fast life can change when his spouse Hailey dies in a plane crash. However, his grief is so great he struggles to leave their home and he writes about it in his magazine column so that many feel for him as a young widower raising a teenage stepson, Russ with big issues since his mom died. He wants to hide in his grief cocoon, but instead he becomes a media darling as everyone wants Doug on their show.

However, his woes turn uglier when his pregnant twin sister Claire leaves her husband and moves in with Doug and Russ. Her plan is to force her brother to move on with his life. Local females sympathize with Doug while a few want to be the one who take him out of his depression starting with the wife of his best friend, the strippers he meets, and the guidance counselor who worries about both males residing in the Parker home.

This is a well written character study of a young man grieving the unexpected death of his wife after just a couple years together. Doug is an interesting protagonist as he deals with issues ranging from guilt to loneliness to failing Russ, who has his own problems. The outside world wants in to his fishbowl adding more troubles to a troubled soul. Jonathan Tropper provides a strong tale that looks at the grief process from the differing perspective of a man under thirty unable to cope.

Harriet Klausner
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A definite winner, July 30, 2007
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I've read all four of Jonathan Tropper's books and this one is probably my favorite, at least right up there with The Book of Joe. It's definitely the most consistent, and you can see his growth as a writer if you've been following him from Plan B.

I wouldn't have thought that a widower would be that great of a topic, but Tropper creates such a crazy bunch of characters that the story unfolds and you're laughing in spots and almost crying in others. Russ was hilarious. He's kind of like the best supporting actor who steals every scene. And while Doug wallows throughout pretty much the whole book, it never gets to the point where you're like, "enough already, dude."

If you've liked Tropper's other books, you have to get this one. And if you haven't read him yet, this one's a great one to start on.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best one yet, July 21, 2007
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have read all of his books and this is his best......an amazing writer who makes the pages come alive with his characters...finished it in one day as I could not put it down. His understanding of grief for the loss of a spouse is extraordinary for someone who has not experienced it firsthand...buy this book....you will not be disappointed.....and there are definitely lots of laughs in what could have become a very sad story..
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll call out for more!, August 11, 2008
This review is from: How to Talk to a Widower: A Novel (Bantam Discovery) (Paperback)
Jonathan Tropper is a writer of exquisite and seemingly effortless prose - analyses of the human psyche that perfectly balance humor and poignancy in a narrative style that captures the voice of the modern man.

This is the first book of his that I read - casually grabbed off the stand at an airport book shop with no expectations that it would even prove readable. I ended up reveling in the book, savoring his craft of blending the sublime with the absurd. It prompted me to purchase all his previous books in fell swoop, even as I expected to be disappointed by another "one hit wonder" of an author. Surprise, surprise - each novel is consistently outstanding and I relish my journey through them. Yet "How to Talk to a Widower" remains his finest effort. Tropper is a writer who continues to improve and hone his craft, and I will follow his progress with anticipation.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, September 7, 2007
This book is extremely well-written, hilarious and touching. I loved the characters, especially Doug and his twin sister. The voices are so distinct that it is no surprise that this book is being made into a movie.

As a resident myself, I delighted in how Mr. Tropper portrays Westchester County, the affluent area north of NYC, dead-on.

How to Talk to a Widower was a treat. If you want to be entertained, thrilled with suburb prose and touched, read this book!

Author of award winning book, Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify and Energize Your Life, Your Home and Your Planet
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Tropper's Best, September 15, 2013
By 
DBee (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: How to Talk to a Widower: A Novel (Bantam Discovery) (Paperback)
I had just read Tropper's "This Is Where I Leave You" and enjoyed it so much I decided to read another book of his. I chose this novel based on all the positive reviews - did I read the same book as everyone else? I just could not get into this book; it was slow and contrived (especially the ending). Most of the main characters are very rich, successful, and beautiful - plus they were pretty annoying, so they didn't elicit a lot of sympathy from me. And one other strange note: the main family is Jewish and their collective favorite oath appears to be "Jesus Christ!" or some variation of that. I'm not particularly religious but that was odd and a little off putting for me. I had to force myself to finish it, but I wish I never picked it up to begin with.
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How to Talk to a Widower: A Novel (Bantam Discovery)
How to Talk to a Widower: A Novel (Bantam Discovery) by Jonathan Tropper (Paperback - June 24, 2008)
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