‘Today is my death anniversary. A year ago today I was still alive.’
Rachel, Mac 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.
I decided – somewhat selfishly – to read The Dead Wife’s Handbook. I have a mountain of review books waiting for me to bust my way through but I have been desperate to read this book since I bought it many moons ago. I’m really glad that I took the time to do so because it is wonderful.
Admittedly, I didn’t quite find my groove with The Dead wife’s Handbooks as quickly or as easily as I normally do with books, however, once I did it was a hard one to put down.
Beckerman explores the theme of loss and death in an unusual way. She tells the whole story from the perspective of a dead person – some writers have done this before however I found that the way Beckerman approached the concept to be quite unique. Whereas it is usually those that are left behind after the death of a loved one that go through the stages of grief, Beckerman positions her protagonist Rachel – the recently deceased – as the person going through that process.
What Beckerman manages to do rather successfully is make you ache with longing for the character. We know from the get go that Rachel cannot have the happy ending that is the norm for a leading character and when we see people infringing on her life and taking over where she left off we get incensed as much as Rachel does. Then we are hit with the opposing feeling of longing for her husband Max – is he supposed to spend his whole life in mourning? And what about Rachel’s daughter, Ellie? How is someone so young meant to cope with the crappy hand that life has dealt her?
Seriously, you go through so many emotions reading The Dead Wife’s Handbook that it is hard to work out how you are meant to feel and that is a credit to Beckerman’s writing.
In what could be mistaken for a sad miserable story (based on basic knowledge of the content) comes a rather wonderful and strangely uplifting story about death.
The Dead Wife’s Handbook by Hannah Beckerman is available now.
You can follow Hannah Beckerman (@hannahbeckerman) on Twitter.