Review – When We Were All Still Alive

Posted May 19, 2021 by Carole in Reviews / 22 Comments

I received this book for free from the Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review – When We Were All Still AliveWhen We Were All Still Alive by Keith McWalter
ISBN: 9781684630776
Published by Spark Press on May 4, 2021
Genres: Biographical, Family Life, Fiction, Later in Life, Literary, Marriage & Divorce, Romance, Small Town & Rural
Pages: 272
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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three-stars

The last great question of every long marriage—Who will die first?—has been answered for Conrad Burrell. After losing his wife to a violent accident, he discovers that he has one more lesson to learn about love from the women of his past, and the one woman he's certain he can't live without.

For Conrad Burrell—husband, father, and successful attorney in the autumn of his life—the world has come apart. Having long ago lost his first wife, the mother of his grown daughter and a widow herself, to youth and pride, he’s now lost his second to a violent accident,. “You think you’re finished, that you have no more stories in you,” his ex-wife warns, and he fears she’s right. Within hailing distance of the end of his days, after a lifetime of meeting the expectations of others, none are left but Conrad’s own, and he must discover whether love survives death as well as divorce—whether family memory can redeem individual mortality. What do we do, then, we widows and widowers for whom there’s nothing left but the world’s permission to stop what we’ve done all our lives? In the cities of his youth, in the deserts of New Mexico, but most of all in a small Pennsylvania town, Conrad finds he has one more lesson in love to learn from the women of his past, and the one woman he's certain he can't live without. When We Were All Still Alive is a novel of grief and healing, a portrait of a marriage, and a love song to ordinary lives.

This book was okay for me. I tend to enjoy books that deal with grief so I was eager to give the book a try and there were a lot of things that I really liked about it. There were some things that I didn’t like quite as much and I kind of felt that the book fizzled out before it was over. I am glad that I decided to pick this book up.

This book tells Conrad Burrell’s story. We see Conrad as a young up-and-coming lawyer entering his first marriage through his more advanced years as he tries to move on after the death of his second wife. I think that anyone who has been married for some time has thought about what their life might be like if something happened to their spouse. While we do see a bit of Conrad moving on, I would say that the majority of the book is the story of his marriage. I wish that I could have related to the characters in this book a bit more. I didn’t dislike any of the characters but they didn’t click with me for some reason. I was a little surprised by how little of the book actually dealt with grief. I think that an equal amount of the story was spent dealing with aging and growing older.

This is a book that I am glad that I read. It was a fairly quick read and it held my interest even though I had some trouble connecting with the characters. I wouldn’t hesitate to read more of Keith McWalter’s work in the future.

I received a review copy of this book from Spark Press.

About Keith McWalter

Keith McWalter writes the essay blog Mortal Coil, and his narrative nonfiction and opinion pieces have appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, and the San Francisco Chronicle. A collection of his essays, No One Else Will Tell You: Letters from a Bi-Coastal Father, won the Writer’s Digest Award for Nonfiction, and his family memoir, Befriending Ending, was anthologized in the online literary magazine Feathered Flounder. McWalter grew up in Mexico and Pennsylvania, is a graduate of Denison University and Columbia Law School, and spent much of his first career in the legal and investment banking worlds of New York and San Francisco. He and his wife live in Granville, Ohio, and Sanibel, Florida.

22 responses to “Review – When We Were All Still Alive

  1. Like Kimberly, I would’ve thought this was a thriller. It is hard for me to get into a story where I don’t connect with the characters, so I get it. I hope your next book is better.

  2. The most important thing for me is that I am able to connect in some way with the characters. I don’t care if the book has a setting…I don’t care if a book has a plot…but it has to have characters I connect with.