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About The Book

A widow’s life is turned upside down when she uncovers the truth about her late husband in this lyrical, witty, and deeply moving memoir of tragedy and betrayal.

In the midst of mourning her husband’s sudden death, writer Jessica Waite discovered shocking secrets that undermined everything she thought she knew about the man she’d loved and trusted. From uncovered affairs to drug use and a pornography addiction, Waite was overwhelmed reconciling this devastating information with her new reality as a widowed single mom. Then, to further complicate matters, strange, inexplicable coincidences forced her to consider whether her husband was reaching back from beyond the grave.

With her signature candor and unflinching honesty, Waite details her tumultuous love story and the pain of adjusting to the new normal she built for herself and her son. A riveting, difficult, and surprisingly beautiful story, The Widow’s Guide to Dead Bastards is also a lyrical exploration of grief, mental health, single parenthood, and betrayal that demonstrates that the most moving love stories aren’t perfect—they’re flawed and poignantly real.

About The Author

Photograph by Phil Crozier

Jessica Waite never realized she was a latchkey kid because she lived so close to her smalltown library. Now, she leads people to heal through writing and mentors incarcerated writers through the Hero’s Journey Prison Writing Project. She’s an award-winning essayist who lives in Calgary, Alberta on Treaty 7 territory, in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. You can find her at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (August 29, 2024)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668044858

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Raves and Reviews

“Shockingly forthright…Waite’s journey is consistently riveting as it moves from grief to rage and searches ultimately for acceptance. She holds nothing back…her disclosures will leave readers gobsmacked and empathetic for her righteous fury. Those who have experienced a significant loss either through death or extreme betrayal will glean comfort and courage from her moving account.”

“A complex memoir about mourning, mental illness, and shocking revelations. […] A candid, raw chronicle of bereavement.”
—Kirkus Reviews

"Jessica Waite's The Widow's Guide to Dead Bastards is a hell of a ride. By turns emotional, hilarious, and always very, very human, Waite gives readers access to the secrets that spilled into her lap after her husband's untimely death. Waite masterfully sets an example of how we might honor and cherish departed loved ones who enriched, damaged, and marked our lives forever. You will stay up all night reading this gem."
—Christie Tate, New York Times bestselling author of GROUP

“Essayist Waite debuts with a bracing account of her husband’s sudden death and the secrets she unearthed after he was gone. With startling compassion and surprising wit, Waite shows how such an understanding might be achieved. This stirring study of loss and forgiveness isn’t easily forgotten.”
—Publisher's Weekly, Starred Review

"Jessica Waite masterfully weaves the truth of a life and a marriage, taking the reader on an unflinchingly raw journey of love, loss, betrayal, and re-emergence. She bravely explores the complexities of the relationship contracts that bind us—for better or for worse—and in human and spirit form. The Widow's Guide to Dead Bastards is a gorgeous triumph, a starkly honest and deeply nuanced account of one woman's journey that will inspire all."
—Peggy Fitzsimmons Ph.D., author of Release: Create a Clutter Free and Soul Driven Life

"Propulsive, wild, supernatural and human on the best level, Jessica Waite’s The Widow’s Guide to Dead Bastards tackles marriage, grief, betrayal and reconciliation with heroic dedication, sharp wit and an indelible spirit. A memoir that tests the limits of the human heart, and elevates the form with rousing success. I couldn’t put it down."
Ali Bryan, award-winning author of Coq and The Crow Valley Karaoke Championships

"Cracked this open to peek one morning at breakfast…an hour later I was late for so many things, but I COULD NOT STOP READING. It’s got all the emotions: Falling in love….the true kind. Shock. Hope. Rage. Heartbreak. For me, a perfect book about the depths of human love and loss. It is a marvel!"
—Sarah Bamford Seidelmann, author of Swimming with Elephants: My Unexpected Pilgrimage from Physician to Healer

"As Jessica Waite uncovers external and internal truths in a world rocked by her dead husband's secrets, we get a front row seat to her winding road of healing and redemption. With dark humor and impressive resolve, Jessica finds her way back from loss and betrayal to forgiveness. A powerful and inspiring story, this one. Don't miss it."
Martha Jo Atkins, author of Signposts of Dying, founder of Dying School

"For those who've experienced the strange land of intense grief and the crushing revelation of betrayal."
—Lauren Carter, award winning author of This Has Nothing to Do With You

"Jessica Waite is a lavishly gifted writer with a riveting tale to tell. The Widow’s Guide to Dead Bastards is a page-turning psychological mystery, an inspiring story of endurance, a guide to healing and redemption—and it’s all true. Treat yourself to this book when you’re in the mood for a fascinating, funny, thought-provoking, and inspiring read."
—Martha Beck, bestselling author of The Way of Integrity

“Horrifying and yet compulsive, The Widow’s Guide to Dead Bastards is a memoir that reads like a whodunnit. Waite’s intelligence and sincerity, as she ricochets between revenge and forgiveness, lifts this book above its sordid details into a compelling guide to re-inventing oneself after the devastating loss of a spouse.”
Sandra Martin, award winning author of A Good Death

"[A] heart-wrenching memoir."

“When Jessica Waite discovers her husband’s secret infidelities after he unexpectedly dies in a foreign country, she’s rocked to her core. Does this mean she wasn’t “enough”? Shock, anger and revenge propel her through all the stages of grief in a rollicking seesaw of raw emotion until she finally arrives at acceptance. Forgiveness is at the heart of this memoir, but the way she gets there—plucking wisdom from the ashes of her revenge fantasies—is deliciously funny. Multi-layered and brilliantly written, this book is a tour de force!”
—Plum Johnson, award-winning author of They Left Us Everything

“The experiences of over-looked women are bigger than ever. Need proof? In this powerful memoir, the author is confronted with evidence that her late husband has been living a secret life. While she grieves his death, Waite tries to come to terms with her spouse’s deceit and find her own way forward.”
—Canadian Living

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