Review: The Young Widower’s Handbook by Tom McAllister

Title: The Young Widower’s Handbook
Author: Tom McAllister
Pages: 288
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
Source: Free ARC from Algonguin

Rating: C

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Algonquin via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review (and trust me, honest is always what you’ll get).

Summary: At the age of 29, Hunter’s wife dies due to complications of an ectopic pregnancy. Widowed at such a young age, having been with his wife for nearly eight years, Hunter is at a loss. He’s never quite known what to do with himself, who he wanted to be, what he wanted out of life, other than to be with his wife. Now that she’s gone, he must figure out life on his own, but first he has to process the loss. So, he embarks on a cross country trip to see all the places that he and his wife had talked about visiting, and along the way, he finds a little direction.

Review: How I wanted to love this book. The concept was intriguing, and the idea of Hunter traveling to find himself spoke (screamed!) to my inner wanderer. But the truth is, I didn’t like Hunter much. He was one of those people who drifts through life, lucky to always find himself surrounded by people who work hard, so he doesn’t have to any more than the bare minimum. Not that he’s lazy in the sense that he doesn’t pick up after himself, etc. He has no vision or drive. The only thing he really cares about is his wife.

To be fair, I did wonder if he suffered from some level of depression. Not due to the death, but just in general. As he reflects on his past, I felt like maybe he was functionally depressed, self-medicating with pot (which is the opposite of what you should do), just sort of dragging himself through life with no real interest or investment in it. But I’m no therapist, so maybe there are just a subset of people who don’t find anything about life remotely interesting or worthwhile. That in and of itself is pretty depressing.

Anyhow, the truth is, I didn’t feel like there was this big paradigm shift or self-discovery at the end of it all. Nothing super exciting happens on his journey. He’s really just blindly traveling around the country searching for something he never really seems to find. Perhaps that makes it less trite, less formulaic than other “travel to find yourself” themed books, but I found it disappointing. Trite or not, I wanted the awakening.

So, it’s a little meh for me. I might try the author again, but I can’t say that I really recommend the book.

One Reply to “Review: The Young Widower’s Handbook by Tom McAllister”

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