What if you were planning to divorce your husband when suddenly he received a terminal diagnosis? From the opening salvo, Woolf makes it clear to readers that this is not going to be a traditional grief memoir. Rather, it is a forthright portrait of one marriage, and the things that came after. From digging desperately through her jewelry drawer in search of the wedding ring she took off years ago to having frank discussions about her dating and sexuality with her four children after their father dies, Woolf takes readers on a journey that is nothing if not unforgettable. Is it comfortable or comforting? No, but it is brutally honest and empowering tale of a woman who emerges from her marriage and her husband's final illness like a butterfly from a chrysalis—not neatly or painlessly, but nonetheless beautiful to behold. VERDICT Be prepared to laugh, to cry, and possibly to be mortified at the level of detail Woolf feels comfortable sharing; but in the end, readers will definitely be glad they got on this roller coaster with her.—Jennifer Moore
A successful writer and blogger explores how her husband’s untimely death forced a confrontation with her unfulfilling marriage and undefined sexuality.
By the time Woolf’s husband, Hal, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, their marriage was “in relative shambles—backs turned to each other in a bed big enough to keep us from touching.” Hal resented Woolf for her financial success, and Woolf resented Hal for the lies she felt compelled to tell him to keep the marriage “stable.” However, his illness made the author desperate. Rather than seeking a divorce, she found herself wanting Hal to live. For the remainder of his life, the author swore she would never leave his side, “the only marital vow I didn’t break.” The tumultuous mixture of love and hate complicated a difficult grieving process that began even before he died. As she revisited their shared past, she mourned her “inadequacies as a wife, as a partner” while also excoriating herself for passively accepting what she knew was a “toxic relationship.” After Hal’s death, Woolf found herself “performing” widowhood for others while gnawing on a powerful desire to “get fucked”—less to satiate her desire and more to fill the emptiness that had carried over from her marriage. An affair with a friend she’d met at Hal’s funeral provided some release. Then she signed up for Tinder and fell into a pattern of “one-night standing,” which eventually included both male and female partners as well as experiments in polyamory. In the process, Woolf learned that however traumatic, Hal’s death had actually prepared her for the short-term relationships she realized were what made her feel the most free and alive. By turns disturbing and profound, this intimate book about one woman’s path to personal liberation also reveals the sometimes-labyrinthine nature of the bonds that unite people in love and marriage.
A provocative and memorable work of autobiography.
beautifully written, complex, provocative, painful, genuine…an unforgettable memoir” — ROXANE GAY, bestselling author of Bad Feminist
“An authentic and profound book on the complexities of being human. Painfully beautiful, wonderfully lyrical and uncomfortably honest in a way that is so rare, yet so needed." — JENNY LAWSON, bestselling author of Furiously Happy
“I started reading All of This as soon as it arrived, and quickly realized that it was going to have my full and feverish attention until I'd devoured the whole thing. It's truly a rare combination of gripping story and immaculate, genius-in-her-prime writing. I had to re-do my makeup like 4 times during the process of reading. I just kept crying. All of This reminded me that honesty saves lives, and that it's an act of love to be truthful about feelings and experiences.” — DIABLO CODY, Oscar Award Winning screenwriter and producer of Juno, Jennifer’s Body, and Young Adult
"Unflinching and brutally precise. Woolf has taken an inventory of the barbaric accouterments of illness, and she presses these details into her scenes like spikes. The barf bags and spit cups, the sponge pops and no-slip socks, the folding canes that give way to tennis-ball-padded walkers and then wheelchairs: It’s a singular category of horror and she nails it." — Meghan Daum, The New York Times Book Review
“Disturbing and profound, this intimate book about one woman’s path to personal liberation also reveals the sometimes-labyrinthine nature of the bonds that unite people in love A provocative and memorable work of autobiography.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Woolf takes readers on a journey that is nothing if not unforgettable… brutally honest and empowering tale of a woman who emerges from her marriage and her husband’s final illness like a butterfly from a chrysalis—not neatly or painlessly, but nonetheless beautiful to behold… Be prepared to laugh, to cry …readers will definitely be glad they got on this roller coaster with her." — Library Journal
"Stark, real, and very brave, Rebecca Woolf's All of This is one of the most true books I've ever read about grief and the relationships that bring it to us. Add to cart now because this astounding book is going to blow your mind." — Claire Bidwell Smith, author of Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief
“This book is an absolute hurricane force of truth and beauty. This book takes our conceptions of love and happiness and throws them into the inferno of reality. Rebecca’s writing is bloody, beautiful, and tender, All of This not only cracks the surface of love and relationships it spelunks into the depths of the human heart. No one is spared and no one ought to be. This book is a triumph.” — LYZ LENZ, author of Belabored and God Land, and contributing essayist to Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture by Roxane Gay