Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9781451649284, 240pp.
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
In this powerful memoir, a young woman loses her husband twenty years after her own mother was widowed, and overcomes two generations of tragedy to discover that both hope and love endure.
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, her feelings of isolation and anxiety competed with the warmth and unconditional acceptance she d found with Miles. She made few friends among the other Army wives. In some ways these were the only women who could truly empathize with her lonely, often fearful existence yet they kept their distance, perhaps sensing the great potential for heartbreak among their number.
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. A role, she later realized, that her mother had been preparing her for for most of her life.
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 father's death in a plane crash, which Artis survived when she was five years old and which left her own mother a young widow.
In impeccable prose, Artis chronicles the years bookended by the loss of these men each of whom she knew for only a short time but who had a profound impact on her life and on the woman she has become.
“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.”
-Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men Are Gone
“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.”
-Marian Fontana, New York Times bestselling author of A Widow’s Walk
“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.”
-Samuel G. Freedman, author of Breaking the Line and Who She Was
“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.”
-Will Schwalbe, New York Times bestselling author of The End of Your Life Book Club
“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.”
-Leah Hager Cohen, author of The Grief of Others
“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.”
-Molly Birnbaum, author of Season to Taste
“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.”
-Rhoda Janzen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress
Artis Henderson was just 26 when her husband, Miles, died in Iraq. Marrying him meant leaving behind the life she had planned for herself â�� and his death redefined her life all over again. Henderson's debut memoir is called Unremarried Widow. More at NPR.org
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