Unremarried Widow: A Memoir

Unremarried Widow: A Memoir

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by Artis Henderson
     
 

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“A frank, poignant memoir about an unlikely marriage, a tragic death in Iraq, and the soul-testing work of picking up the pieces” (People) in the tradition of such powerful bestsellers as Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and Carole Radziwill’s What Remains.

Artis Henderson was a free-spirited young womanSee more details below

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Overview

“A frank, poignant memoir about an unlikely marriage, a tragic death in Iraq, and the soul-testing work of picking up the pieces” (People) in the tradition of such powerful bestsellers as Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and Carole Radziwill’s What Remains.

Artis Henderson was a free-spirited young woman with dreams of traveling the world and one day becoming a writer. Marrying a conservative Texan soldier and becoming an Army wife was never part of her plan, but when she met Miles, Artis threw caution to the wind and moved with him to a series of Army bases in dusty Southern towns, far from the exotic future of her dreams. If this was true love, she was ready to embrace it.

But when Miles was training and Artis was left alone, she experienced feelings of isolation and anxiety. It did not take long for a wife’s worst fears to come true. On November 6, 2006, the Apache helicopter carrying Miles crashed in Iraq, leaving twenty-six-year-old Artis—in official military terms—an “unremarried widow.”

In this memoir Artis recounts not only the unlikely love story she shared with Miles and her unfathomable recovery in the wake of his death—from the dark hours following the military notification to the first fumbling attempts at new love—but also reveals how Miles’s death mirrored her own father’s, in a plane crash that Artis survived when she was five years old and that left her own mother a young widow. Unremarried Widow is “a powerful look at mourning as a military wife….You can finish it in a day and find yourself haunted weeks later” (The New York Times Book Review).

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Lily Burana
…a powerful look at mourning as a military wife…one would struggle to find a young author so committed to detail. As [Henderson] writes her way toward her version of a happy, or perhaps happy-as-it-can-be, ending, she does so with her wits about her and all five senses thoroughly engaged. Her sense of place is exquisite…One can spend an afternoon reading a book, only to have the experience fly into the ether, forgotten until you glimpse the cover buried in a stack on your bedside. Or, as with this book, you can finish it in a day and find yourself haunted weeks later…Gold star work from a gold star wife.
Publishers Weekly
09/30/2013
After four months of marriage, Henderson lost her husband, a 23-year-old Army pilot, in the Iraq war, and she recounts in this languid, heart-tugging narrative their love story. While she was crazy about Miles Henderson, after they met at a dance club in Tallahassee, Fla., in 2004, and were living together soon after, the author was initially against the invasion of Iraq, frustrated about being compelled to move frequently from one army base to the next, from North Carolina to Texas, and dispirited by long absences from her husband. In her deliberate build-up to the inevitable, Henderson plants small clues along the way to deepen the foreshadowing, such as a visit to a psychic named Suzanna, the sudden death of the author’s own father in a flight accident when she was five, and Miles’s dream of dying nine months before he died. Miles was deployed to Iraq and killed within a few months in an unexplained helicopter accident, along with his best friend and pilot John Priestner, leaving the author both blind-sided yet unsurprised, and both relieved and horrified by the rituals of Army protocol and mourning. In her fluid prose Henderson portrays a moving journey to selfhood that strikes the reader as authentic and emotionally honest. Agents: Ann Stein and Aitken Alexander, Aitken Alexander Assoc. (Jan.)
Booklist
“A deeply moving memoir of love and grief that takes readers into the life of a military wife turned widow in a way that both embraces and transcends expectations. . . . Her willingness to reveal the complexities of her marriage as well as the raw emotion of her loss makes for a compelling page-turner. Book clubs will find much to discuss here. . . . A wholly American story that will find broad appeal with every reader who has ever wondered if she made the right choice.”
Elle
“Honest, poised, and graceful . . . There’s profound and hard-won wisdom in these pages.”
Molly Birnbaum
“When I picked up Artis Henderson's brave, beautiful memoir about the death of her husband in Iraq, I expected to be devastated, and I was. Unremarried Widow is an unwavering look at young love and young loss, the physicality of grief, and what it means to be left behind. What I didn't expect was to be inspired. Henderson's story is also one of strength—the strength it takes to fall in love, to let it go, to follow your passion, to move on.”
From the Publisher
“A beautiful debut from an exciting new voice.”

“When I picked up Artis Henderson's brave, beautiful memoir about the death of her husband in Iraq, I expected to be devastated, and I was. Unremarried Widow is an unwavering look at young love and young loss, the physicality of grief, and what it means to be left behind. What I didn't expect was to be inspired. Henderson's story is also one of strength—the strength it takes to fall in love, to let it go, to follow your passion, to move on.”

Rhoda Janzen
“Reading Unremarried Widow is like coming across an unexpectedly powerful monument in a cemetery—you stand there imagining someone else’s story, and suddenly you realize that it’s our story, that it connects us to something large and lasting, even as it separates us from an irreclaimable past.”
Siobhan Fallon
“Artis Henderson’s remarkable memoir allows readers into the seldom-seen and unexpected world of the war widow. Henderson’s eloquently rendered grief honors the soldiers lost and the resilient widows who carry on, all while she reassembles her life by pursuing a dream of writing.”
Marian Fontana
“With unflinching openness, Artis Henderson allows us into a world not often explored from the poignant perspective of the unremarried widow. Her personal journey of loss and love is deeply affecting in its honesty and humanity, and her straightforward style is deceptively profound, effective long after the last page is read.”
Samuel G. Freedman
“Artis Henderson’s extraordinary book takes its title from the dry, bureaucratic language of the military. But she invests that phrase with two kinds of soaring passion. One is the love story of herself and her husband Miles, opposites who attract with a chemistry that shimmers off the page. The other is the mourning story of her life after Miles’s death and it is unsparing in its heartbreak. Together, the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of Henderson’s life add up to an urgent act of witness, a saga of what the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have meant to that too-small portion of America that made and bore all the sacrifices.”
Will Schwalbe
Unremarried Widow is a beautifully crafted memoir of uncommon candor and power. Everyone should read this book for what it says about our profound capacity for love, and to remind us all of just how much we ask of those who serve in harm’s way—and of the loved ones they leave behind.”
Leah Hager Cohen
“Artis Henderson’s Unremarried Widow is as engrossing as a good novel, but the story it tells is true and raw. In giving us an intimate, complex glimpse into the culture of military wives, and in writing about charged subjects—war, grief, gender, and our sometimes conflicting allegiances—with honesty and without judgment, she makes us witness to matters that touch all of our lives, whether we dare to acknowledge them or not.”
New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice)
“A powerful look at mourning as a military wife. . . . You can finish it in a day and find yourself haunted weeks later.”
ChristianScienceMonitor.com
“Artis Henderson makes her debut with this poignant, deeply felt memoir about the death of her young solider-husband."
HeadButler.com
“Artis Henderson’s book is easily the best memoir I read last year. It’s one of those books you pick up and don’t put down until you’re done. And, believe me, you are done. Henderson underwrites every scene, and, because her writing is so clean and controlled, each sentence tightens her grip on your heart. When she releases you, expect to be blinded by tears.”
Bookpage
“Henderson is an author unafraid to tackle big issues like love and identity, yet the book rarely feels heavy-handed because we arrive at these topics through her very personal story. Unremarried Widow is an unflinching, honest and raw book that will likely evoke a strong emotional reaction from the reader. It certainly did from me. If you like true love stories (even tragic ones) and good writing, give this book a try. Just be ready to break out the tissues.”
Palm Beach Post (Book of the Month)
“The book is a brave, unforgettable rendering of a young woman's difficult struggle to let go of one life and slowly embrace another. Not to mention the terrible, human cost of prolonged war.”
LibraryJournal.com
“Through graceful prose and a reflective stance, Henderson recounts her romance and marriage to Miles, a solider she could not help but love despite their different worldviews.”
ShelfAwareness.com
“Spanning six years, the memoir includes Artis's eventual move into a successful writing career, but the image that lingers is of the war widow, the sorrow she so eloquently and generously expresses, and the realization that the war that claimed Miles continues.”
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“There are many wonderful memoirs lining the shelves of bookstores today, but how many of these true stories can be deemed so powerful as to move a reader to tears? Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking is one that comes to mind, and, more recently, Wave, Sonali Deraniyagala's memoir of immense loss in the 2004 tsunami. Artis Henderson's stunning debut memoir, Unremarried Widow, is guaranteed to join the ranks of memoirs that will be talked about for years to come. . . . Truly unforgettable.”
People
"A frank, poignant memoir about an unlikely marriage, a tragic death in Iraq and the soul-testing work of picking up the pieces."
San Francisco Chronicle
"Charm and candor reside in abundance. . . . A singular, transformative account."
The Buffalo News
“Artis Henderson's grief becomes our gift in her piercingly beautiful memoir. . . . It is exceptional both because Henderson is a fine, spare and unsentimental writer—and because many if not most of us are never this close to the sorrow and upheaval a military loss brings.”
Library Journal
Award-winning journalist Henderson surprised herself by marrying a conservative Texas soldier, then lost him when his helicopter crashed in Iraq, leaving her "an unremarried widow" (in military parlance). Here she recalls her life with Miles and her efforts to right herself after his death, also explaining how his death parallels her father's in a plane crash she herself survived at age five. Already in demand.
Kirkus Reviews
Journalist Henderson chronicles her passionate but unlikely romance and marriage to Miles, a fighter pilot who fit the stereotype, "American by birth, Texan by the grace of God." In 2006, Miles' helicopter crashed in bad weather, and there were no survivors. They had met three years earlier in Tallahassee, when he was still in training. A recent college graduate, she hoped to travel and become a writer. A chance meeting at a bar led to an immediate attraction, and soon they were commuting back and forth on weekends between her Florida apartment and his, near Fort Rucker. He was politically conservative and a regular churchgoer who joined the military after 9/11. The author describes herself as a vehement opponent of the Iraq War, a young liberal "more New Age-light than Biblical." When Miles was reassigned to Fort Bragg, they decided to live together. The author describes the difficulties of her life, as he was frequently reassigned, and she could only find minimum-wage jobs and felt little in common with the Army wives she met. Despite this and his frequent absence on deployment, the growing bond between the two was deepening. She called her mother for help, describing her frustration and posing the question of whether she was wasting her education. When her mother asked, "Do you love him?" her reply said it all: "I love him more than anything." They married in March 2006, and he deployed to Iraq in July. Henderson writes movingly of his poignant, last letter to her, to be delivered should he be killed. She recounts how he urged her to pursue her dreams and relates her struggle to do so, despite her grief. Henderson, who graduated from Columbia University's School of Journalism and now works as a journalist, first shared her story in the New York Times "Modern Love" column. A beautiful debut from an exciting new voice.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781451649307
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
01/07/2014
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
59,613
File size:
5 MB

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