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The Widow's Guide to Dead Bastards

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About The Book

After the sudden death of her husband, a woman unearths surprising revelations about the man she was married to for seventeen years. A compulsively readable, darkly funny, posthumous love story about loss, grief, and unresolved relationships.

Jessica Waite’s successful, charismatic husband, Sean, is on his way home from a business trip when he collapses in a Houston airport. Having begun the day as a wife, by noon she is a widow and the sole living parent to their nine-year-old son. The day after Sean’s funeral, Jessica receives a box of his personal effects and discovers the secrets her husband had been hiding—including drug abuse, compulsive spending, infidelity, and a massive porn cache.

Jessica hides these revelations from her grief-stricken son while also trying to erase Sean from her own life. She rids their bedroom of his belongings. She grants herself a “divorce.” She conceives a revenge plan to unleash on Christmas Eve. But when things start happening that Jessica can’t explain—like signs from beyond and strange coincidences pointing her in the direction of forgiveness— she is forced to choose: Endure the bitter aftermath of her old life? Or reconsider her views?

Written with dark humor in the vein of Liz Feldman’s series Dead to Me and Jennette McCurdy’s I’m Glad My Mom Died, The Widow’s Guide to Dead Bastards is a searing and hilarious memoir that asks the question: Does death signify the end of a relationship, or can there be an afterlife epilogue?

About The Author

Photograph by Phil Crozier

Jessica Waite never realized she was a latchkey kid because she lived so close to her smalltown library. Now, she leads people to heal through writing and mentors incarcerated writers through the Hero’s Journey Prison Writing Project. She’s an award-winning essayist who lives in Calgary, Alberta on Treaty 7 territory, in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. You can find her at JessicaWaite.work.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (July 30, 2024)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668045534

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Raves and Reviews

“A complex memoir about mourning, mental illness, and shocking revelations. . . A candid, raw chronicle of bereavement.”
Kirkus Reviews

“A complex memoir about mourning, mental illness, and shocking revelations. . . A candid, raw chronicle of bereavement.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Essayist Waite debuts with a bracing account of her husband’s sudden death and the secrets she unearthed after he was gone. Eventually, she came to a fragile acceptance of her husband’s messy humanity. With startling compassion and surprising wit, Waite shows how such an understanding might be achieved. This stirring study of loss and forgiveness isn’t easily forgotten.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Shock, anger, and revenge propel [Waite] through all the stages of grief in a rollicking seesaw of raw emotion until she finally arrives at acceptance. Forgiveness is at the heart of this memoir, but the way she gets there—plucking wisdom from the ashes of her revenge fantasies—is deliciously funny. Multi-layered and brilliantly written, this book is a tour de force!”
PLUM JOHNSON, award-winning author of They Left Us Everything

“I COULD NOT STOP READING. It’s got all the emotions: Falling in love. Shock. Hope. Rage. Heartbreak. For me, a perfect book about the depths of human love and loss. It is a marvel!”
SARAH BAMFORD SEIDELMANN, author of Swimming with Elephants: My Unexpected Pilgrimage from Physician to Healer

“Horrifying and yet compulsive . . . a memoir that reads like a whodunit. Waite’s intelligence and sincerity, as she ricochets between revenge and forgiveness, lifts this book above its sordid details into a compelling guide to re-inventing oneself after the devastating loss of a spouse.”
SANDRA MARTIN, award winning author of A Good Death

“Propulsive, wild, supernatural, and human on the best level, Jessica Waite’s The Widow’s Guide to Dead Bastards tackles marriage, grief, betrayal, and reconciliation with heroic dedication, sharp wit, and an indelible spirit. A memoir that tests the limits of the human heart, and elevates the form with rousing success. I couldn’t put it down.”
ALI BRYAN, award-winning author of Coq and The Crow Valley Karaoke Championships

"Jessica Waite is a lavishly gifted writer with a riveting tale to tell. The Widow’s Guide to Dead Bastards is a page-turning psychological mystery, an inspiring story of endurance, a guide to healing and redemption—and it’s all true. Treat yourself to this book when you’re in the mood for a fascinating, funny, thought-provoking, and inspiring read."
MARTHA BECK, bestselling author of The Way of Integrity (Oprah’s Book Club)

"With dark humor and impressive resolve, Waite finds her way back from loss and betrayal to forgiveness. A powerful and inspiring story, this one. Don't miss it."
MARTHA JO ATKINS, author of Signposts of Dying, founder of Dying School

“Jessica Waite's The Widow's Guide to Dead Bastards is a hell of a ride. [She] masterfully sets an example of how we might honor and cherish departed loved ones who enriched, damaged, and marked our lives forever. You will stay up all night reading this gem.”
CHRISTIE TATE, New York Times bestselling author of Group

“Written with dark humour in the vein of Liz Feldman’s series Dead to Me and Jennette McCurdy’s I’m Glad My Mom Died, The Widow’s Guide to Dead Bastards is a searing and hilarious memoir that asks the question: Does death signify the end of a relationship, or can there be an afterlife epilogue?”
LadiesCorner.ca

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