‘YOUNG WIDOWS CLUB,’ BY ALEXANDRA COUTTS. Review of the 2015 YA novel about a 17-year-old widow. Text © Rissi JC

From the moment I saw the title for this YA lit, I was hooked. It’s rare that a YA novel sticks with me as this novel’s premise does. In my experience of this genre, I never run across this kind of story idea which is why Alexandra’s second novel (at least by this non de plume) intrigues so much.

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STORY: We follow the 17-year-old, Tamsen. Tam isn’t like most girls her age. Instead of giggling with her girlfriends or preparing for senior year, she’s burying her husband. She married young and was only married a matter of weeks before her beloved Noah’s heart… stopped. Suddenly her forever was nevermore. Feeling without a purpose, Tam moves back to her father’s house where she’s expected to go back to mundane life by finishing school, but with such a dark cloud over her, will anything ever feel normal again?

Young Widows Club, by Alexandra Coutts | Book Review

Before I get into the details, I will say I really, really do like this hot-off-the-press novel. However, I do look underneath the surface in all of my reviewing, and there’s some question marks. Tam’s character isn’t the easiest gal to relate to. Partially this is because she is a 17-year-old widow which is a rarity all on its own. The second reason for this is the voice. I feel like she remains on an even keel nearly the entire book. By this I mean there doesn’t “feel” as if she goes through much fluctuation, one way or another
(despair or change), in the first-person narrative. There is also one other subplot that I did like, but in the interest of being honest, I do think it was pushing the bounds of being “acceptable” simply because of its danger. Beyond that I don’t feel like I can say more because, spoilers!  

Though I do have some reservations about this book, I honestly like it. It’s something I’d pick up again if I’m looking for a quick read. It’s also a novel that knows how to end with its best foot forward. Is the entire book perfect? No. In fact, there is a “messy” quality to it that’s beautiful. The heroine has an unflappable maturity that’s interesting (normal teen angst doesn’t apply) and the healing that comes from tragedy is almost therapeutic. As fair warning, this book won’t end in normalcy. A few years ago this would NOT be cool, but with some distance, I do think how Coutts writes this not only is right, more importantly it best serves the characters.

Though it has its share of fault lines, it’s really in the messiness that this book finds its strength and beauty. If you’re looking for a young adult read with a unique agenda, Young Widows Club might be something to look at. It’s got a great set of characters and a whole of potential. It’s the kind of potential that brings the reader to a crossroads where we can imagine any kind of ending we want.  

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About the Book:

Author: Alexandra Coutts
Publisher: MacTeen Books (Farrar Straus Giroux)
Source: Publisher provided ARC
Publication Date: 2015
Find the Review elsewhere: Goodreads ǀ WordPress
Add the Book: Goodreads
Genre: Fiction; Young Adult/Teen Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5

Sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary ARC copy of Young Widows Club for reviewing purposes.

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


    1. I was pleasantly surprised by how well I did like it. I mean I expected to like it, but before I read it, I kind of cheated and figured the ending (or close to it). But as it happens, I did think it was quite good… and it ended the only way it could. Let me know if you ever read it – and thank YOU for reading, Kara. :)

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