“Funny, sad, and smart . . . Part wacky road novel, part romantic comedy, McAllister's debut flies along yet reaches deep.” —Stewart O'Nan, author of West of Sunset
For Hunter Cady, meeting Kaitlyn is the greatest thing that has ever happened to him. Whereas he had spent most of his days accomplishing very little, now his life has a purpose. Smart, funny, and one of a kind, Kait is somehow charmed by Hunter’s awkwardness and droll humor, and her love gives him reason to want to be a better man.
And then, suddenly, Kait is gone, her death as unexpected as the happiness she had brought to Hunter. Numb with grief, he stumbles forward in the only way he knows how: by running away. He heads due west from his Philadelphia home, taking Kait’s ashes with him.
Kait and Hunter had always meant to travel. Now, with no real plan in mind, Hunter is swept into the adventures of fellow travelers on the road, among them a renegade Renaissance Faire worker; a boisterous yet sympathetic troop of bachelorettes; a Midwest couple and Elvis, their pet parrot; and an older man on an endless cross-country journey in search of a wife who walked out on him many years before. Along the way readers get glimpses of Hunter and Kait’s lovely, flawed, and very real marriage, and the strength Hunter draws from it, even when contemplating a future without it. And each encounter, in its own peculiar way, teaches him what it means to be a husband and what it takes to be a man.
Written in the spirit of Jonathan Tropper and Matthew Quick, with poignant insight and wry humor, The Young Widower’s Handbook is a testament to the enduring power of love.
McAllister writes with heartfelt emotion about the sudden death of a spouse in this remarkable debut novel. Hunter Cady, an immature 29 his life filled with such attempts at self-improvement as "the Month of No Hot Dogs," and "the Month of Being Romantic" spends an inordinate amount of time with his wife, Kait, planning for all the wonderful trips they will someday take. He has the shock of his life when she suddenly dies because of a ruptured fallopian tube from an ectopic pregnancy that they had no knowledge of. Nearly catatonic with grief, he finally takes his wife's' ashes with him on the road trip they never took. Along the way readers learn about Hunter's no-nonsense father and New Age mother. He has a comical and nearly tragic experience at a renaissance fair, and at one point he joins an older man in search of the wife who left him years ago. Hunter's poignant realizations about what his wife meant to him, intermingled with his humorous and spot-on views of the people and places he encounters, as well as how he uses social media to grieve, bring him to the fitting conclusion that even beyond the grave, Kait helps him become the man he always wanted to be for her.