Author: Hannah Beckerman
2015 Reading Challenge Category: A Book That Made Me Cry
Blurb: The end was just the beginning…
Rachel, Max and their daughter Ellie had the perfect life – until the night Rachel’s heart stopped beating.
Now Max and Ellie are doing their best to adapt to life without Rachel, and just as her family can’t forget her, Rachel can’t quite let go of them either. Caught in a place between worlds, Rachel watches helplessly as she begins to fade from their lives. And when Max is persuaded by family and friends to start dating again, Rachel starts to understand that dying was just the beginning of her problems.
As Rachel grieves for the life she’s lost and the life she’ll never lead, she learns that sometimes the thing that breaks your heart might be the very thing you hope for.
You’ve probably heard about this book, it was released last year and has been flying around the blogging and twittersphere ever since. It has lots and lots of amazing reviews and I finally got around to seeing what all the fuss was about. And my gosh, does it deserve the fuss. It deserves more. The Dead Wife’s Handbook is the poignant and emotional journey of Rachel – although she died far too young, she is still looking down on the world she left and is following her husband, Max, and daughter, Ellie, through their stages of grief.
There’s no other way to describe the narrative other than perfect. That’s right, I said it. Ever so slightly repetitive at times but overall, perfect. Impeccably written with an ideal blend of dialogue and action and incredibly well paced. It’s beautiful sentence after beautiful sentence and if I didn’t already know, I would have never guessed it was a debut. The characters are all painfully likable; especially Max and Ellie and it was so easy to get totally invested in their lives. It was fantastic to see how they all coped with Rachel’s impromptu departure and easy to understand why they do what they do and think what they think.
I’ve learnt, ultimately, that what’s important is not what you know nor even who you know, not what you achieve nor even how successfully you achieve it, not the magnitude of recognition nor even by how many you’re remembered. It’s the quality of the imprint each of us leaves behind on those we have loved and who loved us in return.
It took slightly longer than I expected to read because I found it a bit emotionally exhausting. I heard that it was sad and I’m quite a crier anyway so I was actually looking forward to a pull of the heart-strings but I was no way prepared for this. I love emotional books – but this was another level of painstakingly real and raw emotion entirely. It’s not your “The Fault in Our Stars” sad or devastating “The Book Thief” sad, it was real-life sad. It was you and your partner and your best friend and your children and your parents and everything you’ve ever felt or wanted to feel put into a book and written back to you sad. I can’t even coherently explain it but I’m welling up just trying.
In a weird sort of way, at the end of all the emotions and the tears, I found it incredibly inspiring, knowing that every life matters and what you do with it matters – your achievements don’t have to be life-altering, they just need to matter and with that, you will always, always be remembered. It makes you appreciate the little things in life. The things that we usually take for granted but deep down know are the special moments we’ll cherish forever.
If I could give it more, I would. The 5 brightest stars in the sky.