A woman struggles to find freedom, independence, and inner peace following the sudden death of her husband in this memoir.
After her longtime husband Brad’s unexpected death, Booth (Yellow Bird Walking, 2009) decided to reinvent her life. Although she struggled to overcome her grief, she eventually traveled, joined a dating site, and made new friends. She writes that she’s sharing her story because she wants to help other widows regain confidence and find happiness, but it seems as if she also wanted to write this book in order to help her own healing process. She tells of playing “pranks” on her husband by leaving a plastic spider around the house, and how he would tuck “the covers in all around me like a mummy” during their “nightly routine,” which are sweet tributes to their marriage. Unfortunately, platitudes such as “laughing really is the best medicine” take away from the narrative’s emotional power. The book’s episodic nature also gives the story a directionless feeling; for example, in one chapter, she recounts the saga of trying to get spousal benefits from the veterans administration, but the next chapter revolves around her seeing a spiritual adviser. To her credit, she has a knack for surprising readers; at one point, for example, she gets a tattoo commemorating her husband, and she states the painful reality that “In a 14 month period, I had lost my husband, my job, and my father.” Ultimately, the story of an older woman exploring her individuality after 44 years of marriage is a refreshing one, and it’s satisfying to see Booth attain a sense of freedom as she moves into her own apartment for the first time. Though it “was very difficult to accept,” she says, she realized that she couldn’t “continue to define [herself] as part of a couple,” except in her heart.
A touching memoir that allows readers to experience the everyday life of a widow attempting to move on.