The portions of the book dealing with Santlofer’s tentative relationship with his adult daughter, Doria, are particularly poignant ... The Widower's Notebook is vital reading, a beautiful testament to Joy’s life, and a much-needed window into how one man grapples with the most acute kind of loss.
Santlofer’s book is an affecting read and not entirely heavy, despite the subject matter ... Santlofer, an artist and the author of several novels, delicately shows how his wife’s death devastated him and forced him into an uncomfortable identity ... But Santlofer tries to do more than explore his loss; he also mounts an argument about gender and grief ... That is the problem with the book: Santlofer’s struggle to evolve beyond the old-fashioned cultural norms he identifies — essentially, that men grieve differently because they are taught to hide their feelings — just reasserts those norms ... Santlofer’s book, which shines most brightly when it focuses on his grief for his wife, is not a pedagogical tool and does not advance our understanding of grief in an appreciable way. It is the testimony of Jonathan Santlofer about the loss of his beloved wife ... Viewed in that more limited lens, the book has perhaps less literary or cultural merit, but it still offers a moving portrait of one widower with a notebook.
...[a] heart-rending, poignant memoir ... Santlofer’s honesty, his focus on the moments that remind him of Joy and their life together, and his beautifully crafted, tender prose make for heartbreaking yet page-turning reading.
...a heartbreaking, profound, deep examination of the process of mourning ... There's a sweet mood that permeates the opening stages of this memoir, and Santlofer wisely distributes it evenly from beginning to end ... It challenges the very notion that men do not (or should not) write books about grief ... what separates this book from so many others in the genre is that Santlofer isn't asking for more than just for us to follow his journey ... Santlofer's The Widower's Notebook is a graceful and profound whisper of a memoir that works through its sheer force of will and survival instincts.
...a quiet stunner of a memoir about the rocky shoals of the widower’s life ... strobed with cinematic verve ... Although the author is frequently lost in a fog of detachment, the book never loses momentum, thanks in large part to his vivid writing and lack of self-indulgence ... This is a tender, moving, and resonant account of how life continues whether one wants it to or not.
In the brief first part, the author immediately plunges the reader into the moments before Joy’s death, expertly capturing the panic and dismay he felt ... Also included are beautiful line drawings the author did that helped fill the hours as he slowly moved from one day to one month to one year and more past the death of Joy. An expressive and poetic tribute.