General Book Review Disclaimer
I tend to be quite picky; I don’t want to give 4 or 5 stars because something simply has meritable content. I base my reviews on author knowledge, content, writing quality and creativity, grammar and editing, and the use or overuse of excerpted passages.
I love references, but I do not find it appropriate to write a book of excerpts strung together by a few transitional passages.

1 star: Poor or worse than poor, not recommended
2 stars: Below average, not recommended
3 stars: Average and thus good, possibly recommended with caveats
4 stars: Great, recommended
5 stars: Amazing, mind blowing, this book should be on the Pulitzer list, recommended

This review ran long. Okay, long is an understatement. It’s actually more of a critical essay. I will be splitting it into a few post—4 I think.

Runaway Husbands: The Abandoned Wife’s Guide to Recovery and Renewal

By Vikki Stark
Overview

Runaway husbands is written by Vikki Stark a family therapist whose husband suddenly announced he was leaving to be with his girlfriend with whom he had been secretly having an affair for six years. She writes more from her own personal marital experience than from the clinical therapist’s perspective and includes many exceprts from other abandoned wives who completed a survey she created to assist her in her research for writing the book.

Within the first 20 pages, Stark introduces several lists to outline what she calls the Hallmarks of Wife Abandonment Syndrome, Transformational Stages, Wife Abandonment Syndrome versus typical divorce and the Seven Steps for Moving Forward. She then uses these stages as a foundation for the remainder of the book.

Review

Structure
Structurally I love how she uses bullets and numerical lists. In other books these are often are embedded within paragraphs rather than formatted as lists and in such cases are more difficult to follow. For the most part her lists are understandable, easy for recall and later reference and concise. In addition to the specific lists she uses to form the foundation of her book, she also frequently organizes comments and advice from other abandoned spouses into bulleted lists.

Stark uses weather and seasonal terms to define the Tranformational Stages. There’s nothing wrong with this; it’s just not my preference. I find it more difficult to follow and recall which type of storm means what; for me terms that are more literal are easier to both recall and understand. I also am not familiar enough with the storms to know why one is the label for one stage instead of another since a case could be made for a Tornado, Thunderstorm, or Tsunami fitting a few of the stages—and thus to me the labels seem randomly assigned.

Validation & Community
Stark does an excellent job validating the reader’s experience and it seems to be her goal to help the reader realize that she is not alone in this experience and to thus bring her into a community of support within the pages of the book.
Sidenote: I have found the book’s website to be lacking in ease of finding a functioning community—perhaps it was me and I may simply not know how to use the particular community. I did not find a traditional forum with multiple threads that follow the story and process of a specific individual—which made it difficult to follow a specific person through their journey. This sort of community may be beneficial for gleaning information, but it is difficult for people to find a home and get to know each other—it can happen, it is just more difficult than with the forum structure with which I am accustomed.

The book brought the information often found in forum threads to its pages, but obviously such content is limited when relegated to the confines of a book. Typical forum contents—lists of advice, feelings, fears, pieces of story…fill the pages of the book. This is great for validation, but Stark goes overboard—one such list covers 3 pages—and fails to write her book in lieu of allowing the brief platitudes of advice and repetitive stories to fill the space without creating substance. I understand that a reader of the book may have never visited a forum, but much of the borrowed content is common place for forums; I saw very little that was unique or without an expansion beyond the single line advising to do something like live in the moment. A person needs to know they are not alone, but by limiting the borrowed content, Stark would have given herself more space to expand upon the advice and offer explanations—if there are any—for the sudden change in the husbands as was promised on the back flap where it states “[you will] understand how your husband morphed overnight into an angry stranger.”

To be continued tomorrow.

Series NavigationRunaway Husbands: The Abandoned Wife’s Guide to Recovery and Renewal, Part II

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