Young Widows Club by Alexandra Coutts
Published on November 10, 2015
by Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR
Plot Summary for Young Widows Club by Alexandra Coutts
For seventeen-year-old Tam, running off to marry her musician boyfriend is the ideal escape from her claustrophobic high-school life on the island, and the ultimate rebellion against her father and stepmother. But when Tam becomes a widow just weeks later, the shell-shocked teen is forced to find her way forward by going back to the life she thought she’d moved beyond—even as her struggle to deal with her grief is forcing her to reinvent herself and reach out to others in ways she never imagined.
Review of Young Widows Club by Alexandra Coutts
First, let's talk about the weirdness, of which there was quite a bit.
So why did Tamsen and Noah (willingly) get married? The blurb suggests that she was trying to "escape from her claustrophobic life on the island," but that doesn't seem accurate to me. You don't need to be married to say, leave the island to go to college on the mainland.
Why does Tamsen say she got married? As she explains it, "I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Noah. Why wait?" Uh, because you're a seventeen year-old who can't even get married in the state of Massachusetts without parental permission. Because you haven't finished high school yet.
Next we have the problem of the inaccurate title. While "young widows club" is a very catchy one, there is really no such thing in the book. Yes, Tamsen joins a grief support group that is filled with widows and widowers. Many are relatively young, though Tamsen, that cruel girl, calls them "middle aged"... Sorry to break it to you, but there is no club of teenaged widows.
But when I managed to get past the gimmicky quality of the title and premise, I really liked this book. It's a quiet contemporary and I thought it was a moving grief story -- maybe one of the best grief stories that I've read recently.
The book's whole set-up was beautifully done as well. I think one of the hardest things about grief and loss is that the world just spins along, which feels confusing and wrong.
Okay, there's a bit more weirdness I didn't mention before. Let's just get it over with quickly, like pulling off a band-aid: Tamsen starts to fall for an older (*cough* twenty-six year-old *cough*) guy.
tl;tr: In the end, I really liked this. It's a very different book that you might expect, given the title. But if you're looking for a quiet sort of grief book, I suggest you give it a try.