This review is for Black Widow: A Sad-Funny Journey Through Grief for People Who Normally Avoid Books with Words Like “Journey” in the Title by Leslie Gray Streeter. The print version was published by Little, Brown and Company in Mar 2020. I listened to the audio version which was read by the author, published by Hachette Audio, which I received from my local library via the Libby app.
I’ve recorded a version of my review available here.
I don’t remember where I found out about this book. I’m not sure if it was when I was looking for a book that wasn’t super long and could use for one of the challenges that I’m doing. Or I could have seen it when I was looking through Audible for what I wanted to listen to it next, saw it under New Releases and was drawn to it because it was about grief.
Grief and I have quite the relationship, especially over the last year or so. That happens when you lose two brothers within 3 weeks of each other. One of those brothers being someone that you met less than a year prior. But that’s a story for another time. I will say that I experienced a pain worse than anything that I’ve ever imagined. In the book, Streeter describes it as a gut punch… yep, I can relate to that.
In her book, Streeter describes her own relationship with grief. She married the love of her life. Five years later, he passed away suddenly one night, at 44, and she was thrust into widowhood.
As I started listening to her story, I realized it sounded familiar. Thanks to google, I found that I had heard her story before on a CBS Sunday Morning piece about the complications of coping with grief broadcasted Nov 2019.
Grief is unique and everyone has their own journey and needs to find their individual path through it. Streeter’s is different than mine but I can relate to another quote, “Healing is like putting eyeliner on a baby.” For me, I think the challenge is realizing that you can’t just step through each phase of grief and check it off once you finish it. Grief is fluid and there is nothing that dictates how long or how often you experience a phase of grief. What is comforting is that in reading Streeter’s book or visiting the Modern Loss website, you realize that you are not alone. In the CBS piece they mention, “Approximately 2.5 million Americans die each year. And if you figure each one of them has two or three people who may grieve their loss, that’s a lot of people going around suffering from symptoms of grief.” That’s a lot of people grieving and most likely, it’s a hidden struggle.
I enjoy listening to memoirs read by the author and this was no different. As she ended her story, I could empathize with the anger and pain that she still felt. My only criticism is that it was very obvious that she was reading her book. She did try to perform in parts but and express her emotions but over all, I think the recording fell a bit flat. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, but I would recommend it to people who enjoy memoirs read by the author and want to hear about someone else’s struggle with grief. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I may have rated it higher if I had read the print version instead of listening to the audio.