Book Reviews

The Young Widower’s Handbook – Tom McAllister (Book Review)

//I received this book for review from NetGalley. That, in no way affects my opinion of the book.


Title : The Young Widower’s Handbook

Author : Tom McAllister

Genre : Adult Contemporary


Releasing on : 7th February 2017


Goodreads summary :

For Hunter Cady, meeting Kait was the greatest thing that ever happened to him. Otherwise unmotivated, he spent roughly half his twenty-nine years accomplishing very little, which makes him about fifteen in terms of real-life experience. But he’s the luckiest man on earth when it comes to his wife. Beautiful and confident, Kait is somehow charmed by Hunter’s awkwardness and droll humor. So when she dies quite suddenly, Hunter is crushed. Numb with grief, he stumbles forward the only way he knows how: by running away. To the dismay of her family, Hunter takes Kait’s ashes with him and heads west.

They had always meant to travel. Soon enough, he finds himself–and Kait–in encounters with characters even quirkier than he is: an overzealous Renaissance Faire worker; a raucous yet sympathetic troop  of bachelorettes; a Chicago couple and their pet parrot, Elvis. He meets a much older man still searching for the wife who walked out on him years ago. Along the way are glimpses of Hunter and Kait’s beautiful, flawed, very real marriage and the strength it gives Hunter, even when contemplating a future without it. Insightful, wry, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, The Young Widower’s Handbook is a testament to the power of love.

Non-Spoilery Thoughts

This was a hard book to read, and a much harder book to review. I literally have no idea what to write.

This book deals with grief and loss, life and death, and how the journey of self-renewal and self-discovery nevers ends – no matter how much you grow. It shows you the real, raw truth of a marriage, the good and the bad, and what happens when the complacency and certainity of marriage and a long life together is snatched away? Hunter has lost his wife Kait at the young age of twenty-nine, and unable to deal with his life anymore, he embarks on a cross-country journey with the ashes of his dead wife. En route, he meets people, has some experiences, does some bad things but mainly : does he get the closure he requires? Read The Young Widower’s Handbook to find out.

Let’s get the one negative thing about the book – which technically isn’t a big thing, but it still really affected my reading – the paragraphing. Some of the paragraphs were too long and they went on and on and on. And I get iffy and irritated when I see huge heavy chunks of text without any break – it gets so very tedious. It actually even made me skip a few big ones. Also, this book doesn’t have a lot of dialogues – it is majorly filled with descriptions – and though the descriptions are definitely not boring, I had real issues with the paragraphs. 

Now, for all the good things. Firstly, the subject matter. I love books about grief and loss, and I’ve read very few ones about grief coming from ended marriages. This book essentially has no story – it’s just the character’s ruminations about his marriage and his relationship – and it was still so beautiful. Just how the relationship was portrayed, and how the happy marriage and the grief from the death of the wife are interspersed together is phenomenal.

The narrative follows second-person narrative for a small portion of the story, whereas the majority of it is in third-person narrative. The book isn’t plot-driven, it’s a character study. It doesn’t hesitate from revealing the ugly sides of a relationship, but at the same time – manages to beautifully express the beauty of true love. I loved Hunter and Kait’s relationship, and even though I didn’t get to see Kait as a character, I still feel like I know so much about her.

And now comes the journey. When Hunter first starts travelling, he doesn’t know where he’s going or what exactly he wants. He just knows he has to keep moving, and sometimes that’s all you can do. He meets three quirky characters, who add the needed life into the story, and at the end of the journey (and the book) he emerges a little more healed and capable of leading life. This transition was great, and the way the author has managed to put it into words was surprisingly well done.

Overall, this was a simply-written, but hard-hitting novel about a man’s grief and how he he pulls himself out of it. It was sad, funny, hopeful but most importantly, fresh and engaging.

My Rating

3.75/5 stars


3 thoughts on “The Young Widower’s Handbook – Tom McAllister (Book Review)

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