After Wife (Review)

Labels: A Lighter Touch


The After Wife
Gigi Levangie Grazer, 2012
298 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
September, 2012

There's obviously nothing funny about death, especially one unexpected, a life cut suddenly and cruelly short.

Yet, as in all her books, Gigi Levangie Grazer manages to rouse us to bursts of laughter and stifled guffaws. Even in grief, Grazer has created a heroine-narrator who speaks with a dark but very funny, sardonic voice.

Hannah Bernal lives in sunny California, the land of the young and beautiful, "where men have less body hair than women" and where death is unmentionable—unless, of course, you're a celebrity. Yet even the famous must die famously—"Vicodin and champagne with a crack chaser"...or a lethal injection from a "personal anesthesiologist." Then it's a 24/7 gabfest. But when a "civilian" dies? That's about as popular as "crows feet and fat kids."

So when her husband is killed in a hit-and-run, and she starts to fall through the holes in her financial safety net, Hannah is forced to soldier on. Which she does...but barely—resorting to post-it-notes to remind herself to sleep, eat, walk the dog, and take care of 3-year-old Ellie. Fortunately, for her and for us, Hannah has a Grief Team—three eccentric, hilarious friends, who show up on her doorstep every day to huddle around the kitchen island and pull her through.

The plot isn't the point here, which is fortunate, because it tends to meander, arriving finally in a rather vague place. What makes this book delightful is its characters—Hannah and her daughter, her 3 friends, and Brandon the nanny. Secondary characters involve an uncertain love interest, a crusty policeman, and a wickedly funny realtor with an eye for any pair of moving pants.

There's not a lot of grist in the mill, but if you're on the lookout for a fun and funny book about a very painful subject, this is a good one!

See our Reading Guide for The After Wife.

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