The After Wife – Gigi Levangie Grazer
Hanna has a sweet gig producing reality television. Her culinarily inclined husband, John has his own line of ritzy, trendy, world-traveling cook books. They have an adorable three-year old daughter named Ellie and a pack of off-beat friends who keep their spirits high and their stresses low. These three are more like family than friends and provide support even before things go south. (They’re all pretty comical versions of stereotypical L.A. cutouts (you know the types: The aging 40 year old ex-starlett, still waiting for her big break; the earthy, albeit neurotic helicopter Momster; the gay best friend, c0-producer who outflames the sun.)
Perfection unravels in an instant when John’s morning bike ride takes a turn for the deadly in a vicious hit and run. In the event of the ultimate unimaginable in a young couple’s life, Hanna’s overwhelming sadness and grief threaten to erode her career, her house and even her possession of darling Ellie. All too soon, she learns the lesson that bright and shiny L.A. is not a place for the sadness of a broken nail, never mind that of a lost soul mate. Even her merry band of mismatched buddies seems to be “bummed out” by her situation.
Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s also a little bit crazy.
If the actual sadness isn’t enough to send a young widow overboard, try adding dead people. Not corpses but spirits who pop into Hanna’s life on the regular, following John’s demise. Sometimes funny, rarely appropriate, they’ll pop up whenever Hanna expressly needs for them not to. Adding the role of Village Medium to her increasingly larger file labeled “Reasons Hanna Is No Longer Socially Acceptable in Polite L.A. Company” threatens to send her over the edge for good.
Fortunately, it’s L.A. and even ghost stories have happy endings. Through some dumb luck and a whole lot of nutso escapades, Hanna and her motley crew begin to see their lemons for the slightly morbid lemonade to be made on the road ahead.
The quirky approach to the after-world, along with the constant comedic interludes (via Hanna’s disaster prone friends) makes this book a silly, fun summer read where it could have been either a downer or just another shallow L.A. novel. Though it was a fun, light read, it did show glimpses of deeper emotions in the tender moments shared between Hanna and John’s spiritual memory, making it an altogether enjoyable read about what could have been intensely grim.