[DNF Book Review] Saturday Night Widows: The Adventures of Six Friends Remaking Their Lives by Becky Aikman

Six marriages, six heartbreaks, one shared beginning.

In her forties – a widow, too young, too modern to accept the role – Becky Aikman struggled to make sense of her place in an altered world. In this transcendent and infectiously wise memoir, she explores surprising new discoveries about how people experience grief and transcend loss and, following her own remarriage, forms a group with five other young widows to test these unconventional ideas. Together, these friends summon the humor, resilience, and striving spirit essential for anyone overcoming adversity.

Meet the Saturday Night Widows: ringleader Becky, an unsentimental journalist who lost her husband to cancer; Tara, a polished mother of two, whose husband died in the throes of alcoholism after she filed for divorce; Denise, a widow of just five months, now struggling to get by; Marcia, a hard-driving corporate lawyer; Dawn, an alluring self-made entrepreneur whose husband was killed in a sporting accident, leaving two small children behind; and Lesley, a housewife who returned home one day to find that her husband had committed suicide.

The women meet once a month, and over the course of a year, they strike out on ever more far-flung adventures, learning to live past the worst thing they thought could happen. They share emotional peaks and valleys – dating, parenting, moving, finding meaningful work, and reinventing themselves – while turning traditional thinking about loss and recovery upside down. Through it all runs the story of Aikman's own journey through grief and her love affair with a man who tempts her to marry again. In a transporting story of what friends can achieve when they hold each other up, Saturday Night Widows is a rare book that will make you laugh, think, and remind yourself that despite the utter unpredictability and occasional tragedy of life, it is also precious, fragile, and often more joyous than we recognize.

Oh boy. I sat down today to listen to the audiobook for this one, and I only made it through the prologue before I had to quit. The opening of this book is the most woe-is-me, I'm-so-special, the-world's-out-to-get-me, chip-on-my-shoulder bullshit. Is there anything I want to do less with my time than hear a well-off white woman complain about how other people don't realize how hard her life is? Seriously, the scene in which Becky gets asked not to return to a widow's counseling group is the most cartoonishly fake thing I've ever heard. Everyone hates her for being young and beautiful and not grieving properly (and since prior to facing this judgment, she already ranted copiously about the five stages of grief--because apparently she HATES her own incorrect assumptions about the five stages of grief, which she can't be fucked to actually learn about--it doesn't come across as something that actually happened so much as it comes across as something Becky's projecting onto other people), because they're all just old and traditional and bitter and not hip like she is! Fucking gag me.

Basically, there's not a single word of the opening I believe except for that maybe she really was asked not to return to a widow's group at one point in her life. But do I believe that it happened the way she writes it did? Oh, fuck no. It's painfully manufactured and perfectly crafted to make Becky sound like the most innocent victim to ever be victimized by the elderly version of stereotypical mean girls. And I suspect "manufactured" is probably the perfect word for it; chapter one launches into her story about trying to pull together a group of six other widows that might "get" her better. On that front, I will simply direct everyone to this review, which reflects a bit on how seemingly calculated and deliberate this book's inception was. I can't speak to any of that, but it's an interesting perspective that definitely gels with the feeling I got about the whole thing.

Since I read so little of this book, I will not be rating it. I do, however, STRONGLY suspect that my rating, had I completed the memoir, would have been one star. I really couldn't stand what I did read, and the critical reviews of it here on Goodreads point to some other stuff in future chapters that probably would've driven me up a wall.

If this book sounds like it's up your alley, give it a shot. There's always room in the world for more female-centric memoirs (and for more readers of that niche!). But Saturday Night Widows definitely didn't appeal to me.


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