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How to Talk to a Widower | [Jonathan Tropper]

How to Talk to a Widower

Doug Parker is a widower at age 29, and in his quiet suburban town, that makes him something of a celebrity - the object of sympathy, curiosity, and, in some cases, unbridled desire. But Doug has other things on his mind. First there's his 16-year-old stepson, Russ - a once-sweet kid who now is getting into increasingly serious trouble on a daily basis. And then there are Doug's sisters.
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Publisher's Summary

Doug Parker is a widower at age 29, and in his quiet suburban town, that makes him something of a celebrity - the object of sympathy, curiosity, and, in some cases, unbridled desire. But Doug has other things on his mind.

First, there's his 16-year-old stepson, Russ - a once-sweet kid who now is getting into increasingly serious trouble on a daily basis. Then there are Doug's sisters: his bossy twin, Claire, who's just left her husband and moved in with Doug, determined to rouse him from his grieving stupor. And Debbie, who's engaged to Doug's ex-best friend and maniacally determined to pull off the perfect wedding at any cost.

Soon Doug's entire nuclear family is in his face. And when he starts dipping his toes into the shark-infested waters of the second-time-around dating scene, it isn't long before his new life is spinning hopelessly out of control, cutting a harrowing and often hilarious swath of sexual missteps and escalating chaos across the suburban landscape.

Funny, sexy, and smart, How to Talk to a Widower is a novel about finding your way, even when you have no idea where it is you want to go.

©2007 Jonathan Tropper; (P)2007 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Alternately flippant and sad, Tropper's book is a smart comedy of inappropriate behavior at an inopportune time." (Publishers Weekly)
"Tropper has the twentysomething guy thing down to a science. His prose is funny and insightful, his characters quirky and just a bit off-balance but decent enough to take to our hearts." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (138 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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4.0 (84 )
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4.0 (84 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Zan Ashland, OR 10-06-13
    Zan Ashland, OR 10-06-13 Member Since 2006

    Love novels, love to laugh.

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    "The Characters Have Character"

    Jonathan Tropper created such memorable characters, I can't seem to shake them and I'm hopeful he'll write about them again. The book was wonderful -- he captured how annihilating losing a spouse can be. There are some very poignant moments. The family was a stitch as well as a heart breaker.

    I have read Tropper's books and find them hysterical and thought-provoking. I listened to one other of Tropper's which was narrated by Scott Brick. He is a very talented and popular narrator. However, in my opinion, he does not have comedic timing. Eric Ruben, on the other hand, is terrific and I found myself laughing out loud many times. He was excellent. He really added to the book and I'm hopeful that future books by this author will be read by Ruben or others rather than using Brick.

    This is a book I will listen to again and encourage you to spend the credit.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mon San Francisco, Ca 03-21-14
    Mon San Francisco, Ca 03-21-14 Member Since 2010

    12 step program please. I am addicted to Audible! I love trashy sexy books, award winning novels and everything between. Bring it!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sad Drunken Sap"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yea, I really liked this listen. At only 26 Doug has fallen hard for Hailey only to become a widower a few years later. At 29 he is a step father, well sort of; he is terribly depressed and drunk all the time. He is consumed by grief and unable to cope with being responsible for himself let alone another person. Now this should make for just a sad, sad, tale but Jonathan Tropper has a brilliant way of making you laugh and pulling you in because there is more to Doug than just grief. He has a lovable family with big personalities; a stoner stepson that is so broken and sweet and just missing his mom; and Hailey's ex whom, well, he doesn't have many redeeming characterists. And there is Doug and his "total" journey which includes everything from sadness, laugh out loud moments to my favorite- going down memory lane and getting to know Hailey a bit. The book also definitely had some great tips about what NOT to ask someone going thru grief.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of How to Talk to a Widower?

    When he's caught in bed, drunk in his tighty whiteys, with a bottle between his legs and a picture of his date on his chest. Oh did I mention that this was at his blind date's house? I cringed for him, then laughed!!


    What does Eric Ruben bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Great voice!


    Any additional comments?

    Awesome listen and not a waste of time or credit!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather Phoenix, AZ, United States 04-03-14
    Heather Phoenix, AZ, United States 04-03-14 Member Since 2011

    Avid reader/listener of romance, action, thrillers, and spy novels.

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    "Heart breaking but humorous"
    Where does How to Talk to a Widower rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Considering that I usually don't go into books like this, it's in the top 15. It broke my heart listening to how much pain these men, the husband and the step son were in. I understood how much they loved their wife/mother through their reactions to everyone and everything. But it's hard to listen to.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The step son. His reactions and emotions are so human it pulls you into the book and doesn't let you go.


    What about Eric Ruben’s performance did you like?

    Everything. He didn't stoically read it. He got into the whole book and I swear at one time, you could hear the emotion and tears in his voice.


    If you could rename How to Talk to a Widower, what would you call it?

    I wouldn't rename it. It's perfect the way it is. There's no talking to a widower until they're ready.


    Any additional comments?

    Keep the Kleenex box handy.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shauna ME, United States 04-03-14
    Shauna ME, United States 04-03-14 Member Since 2012
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    "This will make you laugh & cry equally!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, this was a beautiful story! I was so brutally realistic in the thoughts and feelings of the characters. It is such an emotional roller coaster throughout the entire book. One minute you are laughing hysterically and the next you find yourself in tears as the reality of the situation hits home. Watching the healing process begin with both Doug and Russ is so heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. They are so lucky to have each other and the crazy dysfunctional Parker family!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Clair! She is just so funny, demanding and loveable at the same time. I would love to have her as my twin sister! She is very blunt and honest about everything, sugarcoating is not in her skill set!

    I also adore Russ, most likely because he is the teenage version of Doug. He is just trying to navigate life as a teenager, which is no picnic, coupled with the grief of losing his mother so tragically. Throughout all of this he remains very funny and charming.


    Which character – as performed by Eric Ruben – was your favorite?

    Doug. Erik Ruben does an amazing job pulling off his attitude, emotions and overall character. You really feel like you are hearing the story straight from Doug.


    Who was the most memorable character of How to Talk to a Widower and why?

    The most memorable character would be the Parker family as a whole. They are so dysfunctional, yet their bond is unbelievably tight! Any scene in the book where there is more than one of the family members together you will either be laughing or crying!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lexie Sagle, ID, United States 03-20-14
    Lexie Sagle, ID, United States 03-20-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Top Notch"
    Would you listen to How to Talk to a Widower again? Why?

    Yes, one more time. It's hip, funny, and most entertaining.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of How to Talk to a Widower?

    The father's new ability to hug.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I don't know. Which one of your children is your favorite?


    Any additional comments?

    The narration was excellent and matched the quality of the novel.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mara EUREKA, CA, United States 12-24-12
    Mara EUREKA, CA, United States 12-24-12 Member Since 2010

    I love audiobooks. They are so convenient.

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    "We all Grieve and Heal at out own pace"
    Where does How to Talk to a Widower rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It's one of my favorites and and reminds of how much people do not understand how widows and widower's are misunderstood when they are in the grieving process after their spouse or partner have died.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of How to Talk to a Widower?

    I really can't remember. It's been a while since I listened to the book. I think it maybe it was in how Doug's Step-son's father really didn't want the boy in his life and wanted to move away from him as far as possible.

    I got the sense the only one who cared about the Step-son was Doug.


    What does Eric Ruben bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Putting into words what it feels like in losing a spouse/partner.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    My opinion would be not turn into a film. Something is lost in translation of what the author is trying to say.


    Any additional comments?

    Can't think of any.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KP Oakland, CA 11-23-12
    KP Oakland, CA 11-23-12 Member Since 2006

    There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson

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    "Funny and touching at the same time!"

    Jonathon Tropper is really funny. The book made me laugh out loud multiple times because he is so funny, witty, and sardonic. He's also very insightful, and his writing is heartfelt. So one moment I could be laughing out loud, and the next I might be crying :)

    I have only read one other J. Tropper book, The Book of Joe. I think I liked that one just a little better then this. I did feel like the plot of How to Talk to a Widower went on a bit too long about the travails of widowhood, whereas the plot of The Book of Joe had more dramatic push to it, somehow. Maybe that's just me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brett 725 42nd St SW Fargo, ND 58103 11-06-11
    Brett 725 42nd St SW Fargo, ND 58103 11-06-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Crappy narrator"

    Narrator sounds like he has a tennis ball in his mouth. It's very off putting and the ultra thick sounds of his voice, to me, are even disgusting. It's amazing to me that bad narrators are still hired. Good god producers show some discernment, some savvy. Pathetic.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Calgary, AB, Canada 11-17-11
    Carol Calgary, AB, Canada 11-17-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Interesting Read"
    If you could sum up How to Talk to a Widower in three words, what would they be?

    An eye opener. (due to the references and suggestions on how someone might consider not communicating with a person who has gone through such a devistating loss.)


    What other book might you compare How to Talk to a Widower to and why?

    This book reminded me a little of the book A Million Little Pieces by James Frey but I feel How to Talk to a Widower was a much better read. Even the narrator is similar but his dry youthful voice that drones on was somewhat more tolerable with this book - considering the character's remorse. At first I thought his narrating would be the death of me but I gave it a chance and ended up enjoying it during the later part of the novel. (besides, the last book I read was The Outlander and anything seemed good after that melodramatic drivelling harlequin romance novel)


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I enjoyed the examples where Doug wrote magazine articles describing his interaction with people relating to his grief. I appreciated the insight on the subject.


    Any additional comments?

    This is an easy read and a good story - sad obviously but quite funny at times as well. I appreciated the sarcastic wit.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dubi New York, NY, United States 07-02-14
    Dubi New York, NY, United States 07-02-14 Member Since 2011

    People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Easy to Listen to a Widower"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend any Jonathan Tropper book to anyone, anytime. Yes, I'm a fan. I've read all his books in print, and I've gone back and listened to some of them as audiobooks, and plan to eventually listen to all of them -- in fact, listening to a Tropper book that I had already read got me started on listening to audiobooks regularly, at a time when has trouble concentrating on audiobooks that I hadn't already read. But none of this helps you.

    Simply put, Tropper writes an easily accessible brand of literary fiction about contemporary characters that is full of humor (often laugh out loud funny) and achieving some depth of character and insight into the lives of ordinary people that is appealing to similarly situated people. The only flaw I can find with his writing is that his novels all seem to follow the same formula, but that has not been an issue for me, because the characters and situations are still fresh each time around.

    What helps are the framing devices that get Tropper started, that catalyze his humorous analyses of (mostly) suburban families and the people around them and the towns they live in -- sitting next to Robert Downey Jr. on an airplane and wondering what would have happened had his college friends kidnapped him, as in Plan B, or sitting shiva with his family after his father's death, as in This Is Where I Leave You, or having the writer of an autobiographical novel return to his hometown and face the people he wrote about, as in Book of Joe.

    In Widower, that device is a column that the main character writes about his life as a man who has been recently widowed, his wife having died in a plane crash, and his difficulties getting past it. That launches him into a series of events that brings in his wife's son by a previous marriage, his twin sister, his first attempts at dating again, and others. The device is particular suitable for the audiobook format, since our audio narrator gets to read the columns that our literary narrator writes about being a widower. Good stuff!


    What other book might you compare How to Talk to a Widower to and why?

    Tropper has often been compared to Nick Hornby and Tom Perrotta. I don't think the latter comparison holds up through Perrotta's last couple of books, other than their suburban family settings, because they're so dramatic, but the comparison to Hornby is spot on, even though his characters are English and usually city dwellers.

    In particular, I think How to Talk to a Widower is very much like Hornby's About a Boy, given central character who are lonely single men (single for different reasons) who develop relationships with young boys (different ages) and end up as a result learning to deal with their issues about being alone.


    What does Eric Ruben bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    There are audiobooks that I don't like where I give the reader the benefit of the doubt, blaming the writer rather than his or her performance. Of course, there are some where the reader performs in ways that rankle me, whether the writing is good or bad.

    In this case, given a reader who has done no other audiobooks (he's primarily a stage actor in New York), I give him five stars for a fine performance, but I have to give most of the credit for that to the work that he has performed -- especially because, as I have already said, the author's framing device is particularly suited for the audio format.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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