Available As Is: Memoir Review

Available As Is: A Midlife Widow’s Search for Love

by Debbie Weiss

This memoir is a reminder that life comes in all shades: darks, greys, and lights. You can’t find the light without settling into the dark.

Thank you to Reedsy Discovery for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Expected publication date: September 13, 2022.

Available As Is is a memoir that follows a woman learning to navigate life, dating, and the day to day minutiae of being a widow. Based on my reading preferences this isn’t a novel I’d naturally gravitate towards. In some aspects I’m hesitant to comment too candidly about my experience with this novel, but I also don’t want to do it a disservice by only scratching the surface. I was drawn to the author’s voice from the sample page provided, as well as the description. While I’m not a widow and have no personal experience with that type of loss, I am living through my own health diagnosis that has allowed me to relate to so many aspects of this story.

I was incredibly touched and validated by the author’s introspection and honesty about their struggles with anxiety. Before her husband’s death the author describes a semi sheltered life; being pulled through life first by her widowed father, and later by her work oriented husband. Both men catered to her anxieties by creating a comfortable lifestyle where she didn’t need to take any unnecessary risks or upset her own equilibrium by doing things that made her uncomfortable. These are issues I personally struggle with now, and was truly inspired by the ways the author had to learn to navigate life on her own. One of the most touching moments for me in this novel was a conversation with her therapist when the author continued to list reasons why she couldn’t, and her therapist answered every time with some variation of “just try.”

This memoir is so utterly relatable. As a chronically ill woman trying to date, I too find myself oscillating between wanting to settle for whoever will have me or actively sitting in my own loneliness and discomfort. I truly think more women need a good friend (or good book, or good therapist) to remind them that it’s okay to be uncomfortable and alone, when the alternative could lead to accepting abuse and people we don’t deserve. 

The author’s ability to weave stories together was both engaging, and at times confusing. I personally found myself focusing so intently on one story, that when the time or perspective shifted I needed a few paragraphs to find my footing and remember who was who. I never know how to review a memoir because it feels like I’m judging someone else’s life and experiences. Instead, I’ll leave my rating based on the writing merit alone, as well as my experience reading. I think many women would find comfort in Weiss’ words, her candid experiences, and her ability to honestly self reflect. She doesn’t pull her punches when she makes a mistake, but she keeps moving forward and trying again.

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