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Love You, Mean ItReview - Love You, Mean It
A True Story of Love, Loss, and Friendship
by Patricia Carrington, Julia Collins, Claudia Gerbasi, and Ann Haynes
Hyperion, 2006
Review by Leo Uzych, J.D., M.P.H.
Dec 11th 2007 (Volume 11, Issue 50)

Love You, Mean It is a true story of love, loss, and friendship.  The four coauthors are women who were widowed tragically by the 9/11 World Trade Centre terrorist attacks.  At its core, the book is a story of profound grief.  The grievous suffering endured by the four coauthors, as recounted plaintively in the book, is quite sobering as well as absorbingly fascinating.  The tremendously powerful emotional currents coursing through the book inundate the reader with cascading force.

   But importantly, this book also presents the riveting story of  how the heartfelt friendships of the four, widowed coauthors (“the Widows Club”) has greatly helped douse the flames of searing emotional pain which engulfed them when their husbands were murdered on 9/11.  Being yoked together by the shared horrific burden of being widowed by the 9/11 terrorist atrocities importantly contributed to the forming of a strong bond of connectedness binding the four women.  And they resolved to help one another move ahead with their lives, while taking the memories of their beloved husbands (“the Boys”) with them.

   Not least, this is also a story about love.  In emotionally moving and draining terms, the book enthrallingly describes the great love of the four women comprising the Widows Club for their tragically murdered husbands, and for each other as well.  As recounted in the book, as time passed, the more the women of the Widows Club said “love you, mean it”, the more they realized how much they really did love one another, and how grateful they were to have each other in their lives.  Certainly for these four women, an unbreakable, interconnecting bond of love has been very instrumental in helping them in their determined efforts to ascend from the depths of fathomless  loss, and to attempt to heal.  Congruently, in the book’s “epilogue”, the women of the Widows Club proffer the following counsel:  Surround yourself with love.  Cherish the love that you receive.  And they add:  the heart’s capacity for love is unending.

   This wonderful book is imbued with some noteworthy structural components.  Numerous snippets of actual remarks and recounted bits and pieces of real life conversations grafted into the substantive contents empower the book with the animating force of real life details.  There are, additionally, a bevy of endearing pictures interspersed throughout the book, which visually enhance its alluring quality.

   Stylistically, the book is written beautifully and is quite lay reader friendly.  The manner of writing adeptly commingles emotional poignancy and unabashed candor.  An interesting stylistic quirk of the book is that some of the writing is attributed collectively to the four coauthors, whereas some of the writing is ascribed to a particular coauthor.

   Substantively, over the course of thirty one chapters, the coauthors flesh out some of the details of their absorbing story entwining love, loss, and friendship.  It takes very considerable courage to reveal, in starkly blunt terms, one’s innermost feelings and emotions induced by tragic happenings.  Each of the four coauthors display a great measure of courage in doing exactly that.  The baring of their emotions viscerally reveals the emotional wounds inflicted by the deeply cutting knife of real life tragedy.

   In the various chapters, the coauthors describe loving memories of their murdered husbands and their deeply felt grief.  They are steadfastly firm in their determination to properly honor the memories of their beloved husbands.  But they are entrapped in the emotional wreckage of profound loss, and uncertain as to how to appropriately build new lives.  These women think in grieving terms about their murdered husbands during the day, and often dream about them at night.  To the women of the Widows Club, what happened on 9/11 was unthinkably bad.  The passing of time, moreover, has not healed, certainly not fully, the painful emotional wounds caused by the murderously crushing blows of 9/11 terrorism.  As they relate movingly in the book, however, the strongly loving bonds of friendship that have developed between them have been enormously helpful in helping them cope with unrelenting emotional suffering, and with respect to beginning to take hopeful steps on the path to recovery.

   Critical readers may admonish that persons may differ markedly concerning their relative psychological resilience when confronted with tragedy.  Furthermore, every widow’s experience of widowhood is uniquely personal and individual.  As such, the particular post tragedy experiences of the four widows coauthoring this engrossing book may not properly be generalized to other women widowed by tragic circumstances.  Also, from the perspective of academic researchers, the anecdotal nature of the profiles of terrible emotional suffering endured by the coauthors may diminish the research value of the information presented.

   But the coauthors indubitably have succeeded in crafting an unyieldingly gripping story which likely will hold in thrall the reader with any measure of curiosity about human behavior and feelings in the long lingering shadow of dark tragedy.  The frankly recounted emotional effects of horrible tragedy may be of particularly intriguing interest to professional groups including:  psychologists, psychiatrists, bereavement counselors, and social workers.

© 2007 Leo Uzych

Leo Uzych (based in Wallingford, PA) earned a law degree, from Temple University; and a master of public health degree, from Columbia University.  His area of special professional interest is healthcare.


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