A study of grief and empowerment sure to be useful to widows seeking an empathetic guide.

The Virgin Widow

In this slim volume—part memoir, part self-help book—a widow navigates her way through the stages of grief.

Debut author Gould, a psychologist, is accustomed to helping her clients deal with bereavement and loss, but she was blindsided by her own husband’s sudden death in 1999. She turned to journaling to express and relieve her pain and eventually realized that her insights could help serve as a guide for other women coping with loss. The project took 10 years to manifest into eight chapters of memoirs, diary entries, occasional poetry and gently couched lessons—an emotionally charged account of one woman’s journey through personal tragedy. Although readers may sometimes find the author’s account of heartbreak fatiguing, her spiritual and psychological inquiries provide an uplifting balance. She delves into the process of grief, and also into the traps that many women fall into when they marry: dependence on a husband for an identity and happiness, and an ignorance of legal matters. Gould’s perceptive prose reflects her talent for lyricism (“I am furrowed and softened: a place of fertility for seeds to grow, and I am the farmer offering fields for grazing and growth.”). Each chapter ends with a suggestion (“Dear Reader”) that encourages the reader to follow her own path through grief, to create daily outlets for expression and allow a new self to emerge. The author lets readers experience her bright and dark days as she shows how the grieving process can be an emotional roller coaster before one attains a state of grace.

A study of grief and empowerment sure to be useful to widows seeking an empathetic guide.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615636269

Page Count: 174

Publisher: Lucid Learning Systems, Inc.

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2013

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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