The Good Wife by Stewart O’Nan

This book is beautifully written and heart-breaking. Too often in the news you see stories about someone on trial for murder. Much attention is paid to the victim(s) and their families (and rightly so). However, the families and loved ones of the accused may also be victims.  Their victimization is compounded when they are totally in the dark; they too experience shock and loss to a profound degree.

Patty knows what it means to be a wife. She never gives up on Tommy. He says he is innocent of killing an elderly woman in her home during a robbery gone wrong and she believes him. Unfortunately, his partner in crime beats Tommy to making a deal with the state and gets freedom, while Tommy remains and gets life in prison. Although Tommy’s prison tenure is idealized in many aspects, O’Nan presents a judicial system that is overly bureaucratic and often misdirected in its intent.

To make Patty’s life more difficult, she is left to raise their son (not yet born) as a single mom. O’Nan artfully explores the day to day tribulations as Patty tries to make a living for her son and remain a good wife to Tommy, advocating for him and visiting every chance she gets. O’Nan explores the depression and isolation associated with being the wife of a convicted killer, making us witness to  Patty’s painful attempts to stay connected with Tommy despite the fact that after a while, conversation becomes strained and arduous.

This book is very enlightening. O’Nan creates characters who are by no means perfect, but you root for them anyway!

(note: This book is bears no connection to the television series of the same title.)

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