Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dark Humor

'How to Talk to a Widower'
By Jonathan Tropper

Format: Paperback
Published: June, 2008; Bantam Discovery
Pages: 400

Synopsis: Doug Parker is a widower at age twenty-nice, and in his quiet town that makes him something of a minor celebrity - and the object of sympathy, curiosity, and in some cases, even unbridled desire. But Doug has more urgent things on his mind, such as his sixteen year old stepson, Russ, a once-sweet kid who now is getting into increasingly serious trouble on a daily basis. As Doug starts dipping his toes into the shark-infested waters of the second-time-around dating scene, it isn't long before his new life is spinning hopelessly out of control, cutting a harrowing and often hilarious swath of missteps and escalating chaos across a suburban landscape.

My Take: This is my first Jonathan Tropper book. It was recommend to me from a couple of sources. First, my friend Angie, an avid reader, loved this book and had chosen it for our book club (of which I am, of late, a delinquent member) and it got rave reviews. Second, I saw it on many lists around the Internet for being a popular book and I thought to myself that I should check it out. When I saw on the cover that Mr. Tropper was likened to Nick Hornby, one of my favorite authors of all time, I knew that there was no going back. I was not disappointed.

'How to Talk to a Widower' is that difficult mix of extremely sad, yet heartbreakingly funny. If there wasn't the funny you almost wouldn't be able to keep reading. Doug, your main character, loses his wife of 3 years Hailey in a plane crash. She is older then him and has a son, Russ, from a previous marriage. The book opens a year after her death. Basically, everyone has given Doug a year to grieve and at this point they are ready for him to move on and you kind of want to agree with them. He starts to feel a little pathetic but that is also what makes this book so real because there is no expiration date on grief.

Doug is also a magazine article writer and has found fame writing about his grief. Fame he doesn't actually want because he'd rather have his wife back than be famous for writing about his grief.

His teenage stepson, Russ, was probably my favorite character in the book. He is struggling so much with the loss of his mother and being forced to live with the father he doesn't even like. Doug feels, now that Hailey is gone, he has no ownership over Russ and they have to somehow come to terms with their relationship and what it means to each other.

Doug's whole family is a hysterical cast of characters that helps to bring the much needed comedic relief. They love Doug and are there to help him try to rebuild his life.

What this book shows is that its ok to move on. That is doesn't hurt or dishonor the dead. It was a beautifully written book.

(I got this book from


  1. I like the sound of this book. I never heard of it, so thank you for introducing me to it. The cover is great!

  2. What a fabulous, thorough blog. I've RSS-ed you.

  3. Loved it. Loved Russ. Loved the shout out. Love you.


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