Cover Image: All of This

All of This

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This is not a conventional memoir about a wife dealing with her husband's terminal illness. Rebecca and Hal were not happy in their marriage and were at a point of ending it officially when he was diagnosed. When a person receives a terminal diagnosis, it is no longer acceptable to reveal negative truths about that person, particularly by his supposedly doting wife. Rebecca breaks all of the rules in order to disclose her truth, maybe for the first time. 

In this memoir, the author is brutally honest about the ways in which the marriage did not serve her, the ways in which she could not communicate her needs and desires. After Hal's death, she goes on a journey to rediscover her own sexuality and relationship needs, sharing details with her kids that most parents choose to keep private. 

I really appreciated the honesty and polarizing viewpoints that she brought to this book. The stances that she takes are not ones everyone will agree with, but it has taken most of her life to come to a point where she will no longer let others' opinions dictate how she lives her life. There were times in which the feminist message came across as a more preachy than just sharing her perspective. There were also anecdotes that seemed disjointed, not necessarily adding to the overall narrative. But the message in this memoir is genuine and offers a different way to look at marriage, grief, and finding yourself.
Was this review helpful?
I'll be honest, I think I thought Rebecca Woolf was someone else when I requested this memoir. I really had no idea who this woman was or why she thought she is a personality (for lack of a better term). I still am not one hundred percent sure, it seems like she had a blog that was popular but didn't really write about that at all. Basically, she had a bad marriage and was never faithful, he died and she felt conflicted and had a lot of new relationships. I didn't get a lot out of this. She seemed to be writing for some sort of reaction rather than thinking deeply about herself. She appeared very troubled at times but instead of focusing on that, she switched to some new man or woman and made that the focus of her life. It was odd.
Was this review helpful?
All of This made me uncomfortable — it made me judge the author, then judge myself for passing judgment on Woolf. The more I reflect, however, that’s the mark of a moving memoir. It took me outside my comfort zone and while some of the writing was a little heavy-handed or eyeroll-provoking, it is also writing that will stick with me for a while.
Was this review helpful?
The words in All of This by Rebecca Woolf are deeply honest. It will take a lot of time to absorb what truths are meaningful to your life.
Was this review helpful?
I think this is a hard book but opens up a lot of important conversations on grief, th grieving process, and finding a way forward. I think many would resonate and read this with compassion and empathy. Not a light read but one that riveting.
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely love this book and honestly wanted to give the author hugs by the time I was finished reading. We are human no matter what gender we are. None of us are perfect. I would like to say Thank You to the author and let her know she is not alone in her feelings, it's almost like I walked through the emotions with her like I was holding her hand until the last page.
Was this review helpful?
This book reminded me a lot of Untamed by Glennon Doyle in that the author of the memoir details her experiences of self-discovery following a failed marriage. I appreciated Woolf's honesty, and the candid way with which she described her relationship with her husband. I don't necessarily agree with the choices she made following her husband's death, but I also respect her need to figure out who she really was, after getting married so young and feeling trapped in a toxic marriage for so many years. I am a huge believer in the importance of telling ALL the stories - good, bad, and ugly - so I am glad that she did that in this book.
Was this review helpful?
A fabulous memoir from Rebecca Woolf, after receiving this book I realized I was slightly familiar with the author from years ago when I read a few of her blog posts. Her writing has just improved and after understanding what was going on in her life. Her transparency and honesty flows from page to page and Rebecca's ugly truth turns beautiful in the way she bears her grief and relief all at once. This memoir will help change the emotions for so many readers when they grieve or when they reach out to help a friend through grief.
Was this review helpful?
A memoir full of contradictions, ugly truths, and zero f*cks left to give. 
Woolf was set to divorce her husband of fourteen years, and the father to her four children, when he received a very imminent death sentence. Instead of the freedom she was anticipating, she dedicated herself to him for the rest of his time, becoming the wife she felt she should have been all along to the husband she wished she had had. 
She writes about grieving the absence of a person that she wanted gone for so long while celebrating the person his death has allowed her to be. 
She doesn’t hold back and her willingness to expose the good, the bad, and the less-than-flattering parts of her life were appreciated. 
Thanks to #netgalley and #harperone for this #arc of #allofthis in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I have mixed feelings about this book, but will end up at 3 stars for a rating.
The author was in a very unhappy and unhealthy marriage with her husband being the decision maker. They had 4 children after getting married only 4 months after meeting each other. We don't hear from the husband about his feelings as we know from the beginning that he dies.

She had been ready to leave him when he was diagnosed with late stage cancer. This created a lot of mixed feelings for her as she cared for him until the end in spite of those feelings and even grew to care for him again. Her feelings after his death are what makes up a good portion of the book.

She relates what it was like when others expressed sorrow for how she must be feeling, though what she felt was free, but was too embarrassed or afraid to reveal that as she knew others would think she was an awful person. Since these people didn't live her life, they had no idea she was now relieved to get out of the marriage without having to divorce him. She stuck it out under impossible circumstances and I will credit her for doing for him what he never would have done for her.

What I didn't like about the book was the way she confided in her children, as young as 6, how she had cheated on him while married. That just didn't feel like it should have been shared with his children. I thought far more was spent on her sex life after his death than was needed. Yes, she was now free to explore, but we didn't need so much to get the idea.

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
(Content warning: non-consensual touch/sexual acts, rape, misogyny, terminal illness/death. If you are sensitive to these topics, read with care.) Rebecca Woolf really poured herself into this memoir. There is no sugar coating in this book. It is honest, messy, and painful, but that's death and grief. She goes from telling her husband of 15 years that she doesn't love him anymore to deciding to stay with him as he learns of and quickly succumbs to a terminal illness. As he is dying, she is coming to terms with the realities of their relationship and finding ways to heal from it. Her story is powerful and provocative, heartbreaking and healing. Woolf's writing was lovely. I couldn't put this down until I got to the very end when the narrative seems to get a bit lost. Other than that, this was great. *Advance copy provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Not your usual memoir... Author Rebecca Woolf is brutally honest with her powerful and poignant novel about life, love, marriage, and grief. Woolf shares the tumultuousness of her marriage and her husband's illness with raw honesty that will not only have readers feeling all the emotions but they will also find her and her story relatable. Woolf leaves both her and her husband's flaws on open display, which is refreshing and comforting. No marriage is perfect, and Woolf has no qualms about sharing how broken hers truly was. She also lets readers into the mess that is taking care of someone you love who is painfully dying, which is a club many of us members wish we didn't belong to. With a power and bravery I am still in awe of, Woolf discovers what life is like after such an experience and how she found a path to feeling free to live her life. Her words are powerful, her story is honest and real, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to read it.

**Thank you, NetGalley and publishers, for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.**
Was this review helpful?
Kerplunk

Hm. Not a happy camper. This memoir was written by a young woman who was planning on leaving her (young) husband, and then he got terminal cancer. I was curious how a scenario like that played out. Would she be there for him while he was dying? It sounded like it would be chock full of conflicting emotions and would be an interesting, heart-wrenching read.

The first part of the book, about her husband’s horrible illness and death, was just that. Despite her plans of divorce, she was there for him 100 percent. I was impressed by her devotion, her unwavering support. The illness and his death were hard to read about, though, and I wondered why I was putting myself through it. I have someone dear in my life who has terminal cancer, and this chronicle of her husband’s decline hit too close to home. I was upset, reading about all the details, plus my mind wandered off, future tripping about the hard road ahead. The chronicle of his illness and her reaction was well written and did evoke my sympathy, bigtime. And the way she described her conflicting emotions was heart-felt and thought-provoking. But I must admit I couldn’t wait to get out of the claustrophobic world of illness and death. Yay, I’ll be reading about life instead of death! And hell, even though reading about grief isn’t up there with eating chocolate or visiting Paris, I looked forward to it. I love Woolf’s writing style—sort of poetic, sort of powerful—so I figured I was in for a treat.

Kerplunk. I landed in a world that made me uncomfortable, depressed, and angry. Yeah, sure, she talks about her grief, but she mostly talks (brags?) about her many sexual escapades. In detail. She is all about her freedom and finding herself. This author can write, there’s no doubt about it. But I didn’t find her journey interesting or her choices smart ones. Selfish is the word that comes to mind. I felt judgy, which made me feel guilty. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help but cringe when she bragged about divulging details of her angst and her dating life (!) to her four kids, ages 13 and under! WTF? This book got my mom juices flowing, and I don’t mean in a good way. Treating her young kids as confidantes was the straw that broke the camel’s back, especially since the kids had their dad’s death to deal with and could have used some help. Oh, and there’s also a subtle anti-male vibe going on, which I didn’t like.

Obviously, I didn’t like the book, except for the first part where she cared for her dying husband and showed her conflicting emotions in a way that made me sympathetic and impressed. (That part, as I said, was a rough read for me, but still, I admired her story.) For the rest of the book, I could not relate to or appreciate her actions or emotions in the least. I do think she writes not only with skill, but with honesty, so that’s a plus. Also, there’s one cute memory she mentions—about wanting to be Pegasus when she was a young kid. Ha, I’m trying to think of pluses, I really am!

This memoir got rave reviews from two authors I like. Recently, I read another memoir that received kudos from favorite writers, and I didn’t like that one either. This seals the deal: no more trigger fingers that hit the request button for books that have positive reviews from trusted sources. Man have I learned my lesson!

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.
Was this review helpful?
Hypnotic and thought-provoking, Rebecca Woolf's memoir ALL OF THIS is that unforgettable, grab-you-by-the-heart-and-not-let-go read that kept me up too late reading -- her beautiful prose kept me hurtling through the harrowing end days of her marriage, her husband's death, and life afterwards. Without that beautiful, calm perspective, I don't know that I could have managed the piercing insights and nagging reminders of our own mortality and the imperfect love and life we live as best we can.  I will never forget this book. I received a copy of this book and these opinions are my own, unbiased thoughts.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you NetGalley and Harper One for a digital ARC. 

I feel conflicted about how to rate and review this memoir. I have been reading Rebecca Woolf's writing since the start of the mommy blogging days. Part of the conflict I feel is that I feel duped and lied to as a reader and fan of her work. It is as if years of reading her writing about marriage and parenting has all been a lie, a show, and now this memoir is the real story, the real writer... So with that context it has been hard for me to settle on how I feel about the book. Some of these topics have been alluded to and mildly addressed in her social media and blogging, but just a taste here or there and not the full truth. 

The writing is good. It isn't great. There are repetitive statements and conversational language that doesn't feel right: use of the "because, X" statements for example. "Because, grief." There are sections in italics that I am not sure why they are in italics. There are jumps back and forth in time which feel like an editors suggestion (you need to give back story here and here). And the end sort of fizzles out which is ok because that is what grief does and we don't always have a MOMENT that brings things "full circle." in life. Although that phrase, full circle, is thrown about in the book several times at the beginning and so I was expecting that theme to appear in the ending of the book. I also wonder if I didn't know the author's family structure and life story from her blog and Instagram if I would have such a rich picture of who they are, for example, there's no description of what the children look like, only vague descriptions of what Hal and the author look like... but I know what they look like from seeing images online for over a decade. 

Topically I found the first half of the book powerful and well executed. The idea of caring for and then grieving for a person you wanted to divorce is a conflict that is a difficult to talk about in "normal" society. I have personal experience with a loss of an ex as a young person (24) and I was treated like a widow despite our breakup weeks before. I know how hard it can be to live with that legacy of being the last person who was supposed to love that person more than your own life... Despite that I found the gritty descriptions of her lack of self care and hygiene distressing, for example, underwear and clothing she did not change for 4 or 5 days. I have worked as a hospice/end-of-life nurse of many years and I kept thinking: what are the nurses doing?, why aren't they supporting her?" and also her friends and family, who were so wonderful at stepping up for her and her kids, why are they not helping her care for herself too? 

The second half of the book expounds on how Woolf grieved for her own loss of staying in a marriage that was not right for her for 13 or so years, 4 months after her husband dies. And that there are so many women who stay in marriages that they are not happy in and they should scream freedom from MEN and leave them. How much she likes casual sex and how there can be intimacy in a single sexual encounter. This part of the book felt like a list of sexual exploits and it felt cringy that her children would probably read about how she snuck out of the house in the rain to fuck someone under the eaves of her house while her children slept inside or that brief illusion that she asks partners to choke her during sex, or how she was unfaithful in her marriage. As much as she talks about being honest with her children this felt... not quite right. There is truth and then there is this... Maybe truth is talking about how this felt, why she needed this type of sexual encounter, what it fulfilled in her, how it changed her relationship with herself, etc. Self reflection is hard to do without time and distance. It made this part of the book as messy and disjointed as Woolf writes about feeling - I argue that with distance and introspection you can write about a messy experience without messy and disjointed language. 

Despite all of that I found the memoir provocative, complex, genuine, and memorable. It is writing I will think about in the future when navigating relationships. The balance between self care, meeting my own needs and wants, and compromise....
Was this review helpful?
The author hated her husband and wanted a divorce at the time of his terminal diagnosis. I understand the marriage was a wreck. She boasts about her infidelity for most of it. Then she describes her hook ups after his death. It’s like she is looking for an absolution.
This book wasn’t what I thought it would be.
Was this review helpful?
This book is phenomenal. Rebecca Woolf is such a talented writer and her story is so unapologetically hers. 

This book has some major trigger warnings associated with it (descriptions of emotional abuse and sexual assault/violence) but I don’t think it should scare readers off. The journey of Woolf finding her freedom after her husband’s death is a bold one. As I was reading I just kept thinking, how many women feel this exact way and never get the chance to grieve in the way that works for them. Her story of rediscovering herself, of her identity as a widow who hated her husband and was going to divorce him anyway, is such an important one for all the women out there stuck in unhappy marriages. 

Memoirs are always deeply personal, but Woolf took it to another level. Their story is so impactful. Everybody should read this book.
Was this review helpful?
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins Harper One for gifting me a digital ARC of this honest and moving memoir by Rebecca Woolf - 4.5 stars rounded up!

Rebecca stayed in her marriage with husband, Hal, mostly for her four children.  But two weeks after she finally told Hal she wanted a divorce, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer at age 44 and was dead 4 months later.  With her husband's blessing, Rebecca (one of the first mommy bloggers) writes the story of those 4 months as well as her life afterwards, with total honesty.

This was a real look at a different kind of grief, the kind that no one talks about.  When the fact that a loved one has died brings more relief than it does sorrow.  Rebecca has a wonderful writing style and brings you along on her journey, being open about affairs, anger, relief, hope, and new beginnings.  I loved the joy they shared and the open communication she had with her children, even if doesn't go along with the normal sharing.  But that's the point of this whole book to me - we are all on different journeys and process our worlds differently.  This is a look into someone else's normal.  It was also a big nod to all the friends that Rebecca was blessed with who did so much for her and her family during this time.  They are all admirable people and we should all be so lucky to be surrounded by such support.
Was this review helpful?
My God - what a beautifully-written, complex, raw memoir. I related to and felt so much kinship with the author while reading her gorgeous words. Perfect - and I mean perfect - for a book discussion group. You’ll talk and share for hours. I dog eared so many pages in this one to share with my friends.  Brava! Heartfelt thanks to Harper Collins for the advanced copy!
Was this review helpful?
Rebecca Woolf creates a complex yet vulnerable tale in All of This: A Memoir of Death and Desire. How do these two topics intertwine, you ask? And Woolf answers this question in spades. Her marriage was far from perfect, but they stayed together. Then doctors diagnose her husband with stage four terminal cancer. What follows is as much about the death as how Woolf reconciles her conflicting emotions.

The diagnosis happens just as Woolf considers whether to leave this man—the father of her four children. Instead, she stays and cares for him, putting his intense needs ahead of hers. She attends to the kids physically and emotionally but lets her basic needs slide.

Once her husband dies, Woolf’s pendulum swings to a more balanced place. She and the kids find unique ways to cope. They sing and dance when it helps let their emotions flow. And Woolf figures out how to be a single mom in the world of Tinder. Dates—many of them—become her coping mechanism. She gets back in touch with her womanhood and desire for intimacy and connection, even if just for brief relationships.

My conclusions
Woolf is comfortable oversharing. But it’s endearing and illustrates the genuine complexity of unexpected death after a less-than-ideal relationship. She offers a precious and tender mothering style that’s never saccharin. All of This is a modern take on being a young widow with young kids.

When I started reading, Woolf immediately drew me into her world. I felt the chill of the hospital ward. The vital support of her besties. And each of her acute feelings about events she had little control over. However, this book isn’t a tearjerker. Ultimately, it’s about empowerment and Woolf’s journey to regain her sense of self.

Based on Woolf’s telling, I neither mourned her husband’s death nor the end of their marriage. Instead, I felt hurt for how he forced her into his vision of a wife and caregiver. The book is clearly her way of cleansing the demons of imbalanced marital power. This isn’t the typical way an abusive relationship ends, which makes this memoir compelling.

I recommend this if you love woman-centered memoirs that dive deep into emotions and aren’t afraid to test boundaries of “correctness.”

Acknowledgments
Thanks to NetGalley, Harper One, and the author for a digital advanced reader’s copy in exchange for this honest review. The expected publication date for this book is August 16, 2022.
Was this review helpful?