If your vision of a widow is someone in black mourning forever the loss of her husband, stuck in the past, then you'll be shocked by Becky Aikman's Saturday Night Widows: The Adventures of Six Friends Remaking Their Lives. I found it moving, refreshing, and encouraging. It's the best book I've read so far in 2013.
Becky Aikman's husband died when he was still in his forties. After twenty years of marriage, she lost her husband, her best friend, and her lover all at one time. How do you go on? Aikman even went to a support group offering information on "Moving Forward After Loss". She was ready to move forward, ready to go on with life, but the widows and widower in the group were there to relive the past, not to go on. When she was kicked out of the group, she decided she wanted to find widows with the same hope she had. She wanted to move forward, and wanted to be happy again.
It took some time, but Aikman found five other women, widows. The youngest was 39; the oldest was 57. Although they were hesitant, they agreed to her suggestion that they meet once a month, on Saturdays, to share life. As one of the women said, she was now "Totally fearless. Because the worst thing that could happen has already happened."
Aikman doesn't sugarcoat loss and grief. In fact, the book is composed of alternating chapters, some focusing on Aikman's own loss and process of grief and recovery, some discussing the study of grief, which has been confused with the process of death, and some chapters focusing on the women themselves, their individual experiences, and their processes of coping and moving on. Early on, she says of the women who would become friends, "All the women...were in the process of remaking, reinventing, and rethinking who they were and how they lived and where they lived and what they did and who they cared about and who cared about them." The six women were all different, all in different stages of their lives and their grieving, but widowhood united them, and it also gave them strength.
Saturday Night Widows is a courageous book that points out that widows are still women who crave friendship and laughter and love. Just because they lost a husband doesn't mean they lost the chance to live life to the fullest. Aikman found five women who shared the determination to move on. They shared tears and confidences and laughter over the course of the year, and they found their own strength and gift for life. Aikman's account might come as a surprise to many, who expect widows to still be in Victorian mourning for life. But, for those of us who lost husbands young, Aikman's book serves as a reminder and encouragement. There is life after death. We just have to continue to enjoy the world, and seek out the people and experiences that help us continue to live.
My personal note? Thank you to everyone in the last two years who has made me laugh. There is laughter and joy out there, and I'm grateful every day for those of you who share that with me.
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
My reviews are only my opinion, and do not reflect the views of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.
I will not review self-published books, and, at the present time, do not accept books in e-book format.
My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.