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The Young Widower's Handbook: A Novel Hardcover – February 7, 2017
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“McAllister writes with heartfelt emotion about the sudden death of a spouse in this remarkable debut novel.”
“McAllister’s debut novel is at turns funny and touching, particularly in the vignettes sandwiched between the narrative, which delve into Hunter’s thoughts and feelings about his marriage and his wife. Expect comparisons to Jonathan Tropper and Nick Hornby.”
“A quirky, well-told fiction debut.”
“Funny, sad, and smart, The Young Widower’s Handbook is a brilliant meditation on love, loss and loneliness. Part wacky road novel, part romantic comedy, Tom McAllister's debut novel flies along yet reaches deep.” —Stewart O'Nan, author of West of Sunset
“The Young Widower’s Handbook is a stunning, clear-eyed examination of the complexity of grief. In McAllister's hands, this story of a man dealing with the loss of his wife takes on such depth and surprising humor that you can't help but give yourself over, heart and soul, to Hunter's journey.” —Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang
"[McAllister] does a wonderful job developing compelling characters in a believable situation. For readers who want to experience a tumultuous adventure through deep grief, wrestle through acceptance, and experience its catharsis, Handbook absolutely delivers.”
From the Back Cover
. . . Throughout high school and college, you were an extra in the movies of other people’s lives, never better than the fourth most charismatic in any group; your role was to be the designated driver and to occasionally deliver a sarcastic one-liner that your friends could later repeat and claim as their own. And yet when you speak, she listens . . . You don’t fall in love with her because she’s like your mother, or because she’s the kind of woman you’re supposed to marry, but because there is no other choice but to fall in love . . . She wants to be married—married to you, specifically—and would you stop dragging your feet already, you’re twenty-four and it’s time to start growing up.” –HUNTER CADY, the hero of this funny, soulful love story
“The Young Widower’s Handbook is a stunning, clear-eyed examination of the complexity of grief. This story takes on such depth and surprising humor that you can’t help but give yourself over, heart and soul.” —Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang
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Top Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed the first half of this book. There were some very moving passages as Hunter is musing over his dead wife and all that she meant to him. At his wife’s wake he is having a hard time relating to his mother in law and brothers in law who never liked him from the beginning. Hunter feels unmoored and doesn’t know how to move forward.
There is some beautiful writing in this book. “He plays Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” on a loop and sings along with it, telling Kait she made him forget himself, made him think he was someone else, someone good.” “When he opens his eyes he sees thousands of ghosts in his home, each one a vision of Kait at a different stage of their shared life; they crowd into the house, some are cooking and some are sleeping and some are dancing and some are hanging pictures and everywhere around him there are Kaits.” Beautiful prose.
Hunter knows that it’s not true and yet he feels guilt about Kait’s death. He feels that everyone is judging him and wondering “exactly what you did to deserve losing your wife in this way. But what sort of transgressions can one commit for which the fair and reasonable punishment is the immediate death of one’s wife?
When he remembers that he has some insurance money to fall back on he decides to go on a road trip, one that he and Kait had planned to take, cross country. Kait has already been reduced to ashes and there is an argument as to who gets to keep the ashes, Hunter or her family when he just decides to clear out.
I really enjoyed some of the people that he met on his road trip from the extremely passionate and obsessive Renaissance Faire attendees who try to claim Hunter as one of their own to the unlikely trio of Austin, Amber and Amber’s grandfather Paul. Hunter makes up a story that he is going to meet up with his wife who has started a new job.
I laughed while reading some of this novel and felt a really dull sad ache in my heart for Hunter in other parts. I enjoyed the first half of the book immensely but then it became a little repetitive and I yearned for Hunter to grow as a person, but that didn’t happen.
I think this is a great debut novel and would recommend it. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this book to review.
Well, this book sounds very morbid but, like the film Grace is Gone, that morbidity often takes second place to the shenanigans that Hunter finds himself in. There are some quite funny parts in this book too and also a lot of tender, heart wrenching moments. I really went through the whole spectrum of emotions whilst reading it. No one should ever tell someone else how to cope with death, how to grieve. It is a completely personal experience and here, although Hunter's reaction could be considered extreme. I personally think it is brave. Going against what is expected but friends and family and simply doing what's right for him to get through this time. Yes, he did a lot of strange things, got himself into scrapes that he really could have avoided but, at the same time, came across as human and, as such, flawed. What started out as potentially the start of his breakdown turned into a voyage of discovery. Through people he met, things he saw and experienced, he started to be able to close that chapter of his life leaving me as a reader lots to thinks about as I followed him on this journey.
This is another debut author who is going on my watch list. Although this book didn't blow me away completely, it was a good solid read that still, 7 days later, has me thinking about it. I am very interested in seeing what he follows up with for his second book.
My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.