How to Talk to a Widower
By Lucia Nelson
Jan 13, 2007 - 5:11:19 PM

Doug Parker is a widower. He lost his wife in a plane crash almost a year ago, and he’s still having a difficult time recovering from his loss. His well-meaning neighbors are still trying to take care of him, and his sixteen-year-old stepson, Russ, is starting to have problems in school. His twin sister Claire is having problems with her marriage, too.

Doug’s column, “How to Talk to a Widower,” is earning him some attention—attention that he doesn’t know how to handle. Though he still mourns his wife, he doesn’t want to be known forever as the man whose wife died in a plane crash. He has dreamed of a book offer for years, but he doesn’t feel comfortable accepting a deal based on his column.

Doug’s family and friends mean well, but nothing will change for him until he’s able to recover emotionally from the loss of his wife. For Doug, that means misadventures in the form of an affair with a married neighbor, a flirtation with a guidance counselor at Russ’s school, and a comic disaster at his younger sister Debbie’s wedding. Along the way, Doug learns important lessons about grief and the things it can do to people, and he learns that family—no matter how messy their lives are—can provide comfort and solace.

Though the subject matter doesn’t sound humorous, HOW TO TALK TO A WIDOWER is a wonderfully comic novel. Doug is sensitive, clever, and self-deprecating. Though he misses his late wife desperately, he knows she would want for him to move on with his life, and his attempts are entertaining. Russ is a good kid who has fallen in with a bad crowd, and is acting out because he misses his mother and dislikes his controlling stepfather. Doug’s twin sister, Claire, was one of my favorite characters—a sly, sarcastic, and intelligent woman who wonders how she ended up in her life, married to a wealthy man who loves her far more than she loves him.

Mr. Tropper’s books are often considered “lad lit”—the male equivalent of chick lit. As such, readers who enjoy chick lit, especially chick lit with a sarcastic bite, will enjoy HOW TO TALK TO A WIDOWER. It’s a very funny, entertaining book about a very unfunny subject.

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