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A Widow's Walk: A Memoir of 9/11
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A Widow's Walk: A Memoir of 9/11

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  261 ratings  ·  55 reviews

On September 11, I dropped my son off at his second full day of kindergarten. The sky was so blue it looked as if it had been ironed. I crossed the street, ordered coffee, and sat to wait for my husband to meet me. It was our eighth wedding anniversary and Dave and I were about to begin a new chapter in our seventeen years together. Sipping coffee, I watched as a line of
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Paperback, 420 pages
Published September 11th 2006 by Simon & Schuster (first published August 30th 2005)
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9/11 Related
60th out of 118 books — 140 voters
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This American Life
83rd out of 98 books — 36 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 701)
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Elizabeth
With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 I found myself re-reading many of the stories relating to that day that I had read and forgotten. As I listened to programs acknowledging the anniversary, I found Marian Fontana's name continually popping up. I heard her interviewed by Ira Glass on This American Life and was fascinated. I just finished reading her memoir, A Widow's Walk, and I find myself unable to let go of this book. I find that I am thinking of it often throughout the day--thinking of her,of ...more
Terri Ann
Hauntingly beautifully written, the author leads you through each excruciating day from the news of the attacks through the ensuing first year. Extremely personal, touching, sincere. In opposition to previous reviews, I did not in any way, shape or form, feel the author was a glutton for attention or the spot light. On the contrary, I respect her for being a vehicle to be proactive instead of crumbling and becoming nonfunctioning (which is what I imagine I would probably do).
My husband and I ha
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Neil Pierson
Listeners to This American Life will recognize Marian Fontana with these words: The old double whammy.
That story is not included in the book, but I don’t want to spoil it. It’s enough to say that indifference in high places leads to brutality.
Marian Fontana is the widow of Dave Fontana, a New York firefighter. He had just gone off duty on the morning of September 11, 2001. But when word of the attacks on the World Trade Center reached FDNY Squad 1 in Brooklyn, he responded and was killed in the
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Ari
I have to be honest... I didn't thoroughly read this book. I basically skimmed it. Because the subject matter of this book was so hard to get through that if I would have really read every word, I would've been crying every second I read this book.

That said, I thought this book was interesting, although at times it read like a "and then I did this, and then I did this..." and basically I just wanted to know what the end result was. Maybe I read this book at the wrong time though. Maybe I wasn't
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Jenna
As I sat at a sporting event reading this book the first weekend of September, a man asked what I was reading. When I told him, he said, "Oh, wow. Hmm. I lived through it once. I don't think I could do it again."

That's why I read this book. And for many more reasons. I'll review it fully on our blog on Friday, but, really, it's a book that I'm glad that I bought instead of borrowing from the library. I have a feeling I'll come back to it again and again... despite the constant tears while readin
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Kathleen Crowell
Sad story, but a personal glimpse into the life of a 911 "survivor." Hard to read sometimes because never having experienced what Fontana did, you can't imagine making some of the choices she made especially having a young son to take care of. Just goes to show you there is no method to grieving even for a parent. Also the scope of what the family had to deal with in the early days of 911 is beyond frightening. Very honest and raw.
Charis Hanberry
Taughtly woven, expertly intertwining events in the past with those of 9/11, this book is gripping. Honest, loving, angry, grateful - all at once. Fontana did an excellent job of conveying her thoughts and feelings throughout the event and the beginnings of her healing. Get a box of tissues and settle in for an excellent read!
Barbara
Marian Fontana had just dropped her young son off for school when she learned of the tragedy unfolding on 9/11. She had just spoken with her firefighter husband, Dave, who had confirmed he was on his way home to celebrate their wedding anniversary. After hours of not hearing from him, Marian's fears were confirmed- her husband was one of the heroic firefighters who sacrificed their lives trying to save others.
From here, we follow Marian's journey for the next year: struggling with her grief, ra
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Roxanne
I really did not want to give this book only two stars when it is a true story about a horrific event, but I did force myself to read everything even though I was tempted many times to "skim" sections.

Due to the subject matter, I knew this was going to be a difficult read. I wish Marian would have waited and written beyond the one year period. I did not care for the writing style at all. It felt like I was reading a diary or somebody's journal. I think with better editing this could have been a
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Candice
May 29, 2008 Candice rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 9/11 "enthusiasts," young widows and widowers, anyone interested in grief &/or young widowhood
I read this memoir, written by the widow of a 9/11 firefighter killed at the WTC, after reading other books about 9/11 and other 9/11 widows.

The author writes her memoir more like a novel, it seems, than an introspective exploration of her experience, and as such it is easy to read...as a literary work, at least. Its subject matter isn't easy to read, in contrast, but it's a testatment to Fontana's writing ability and personal strength that she was able to document such a tragic, wrenching time
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Laura
This is a first for me. I'm giving this book a four star rating and yet I didn't "really liked it" and refuse to finish it right now and am returning it instead to the library.

So I have to take it back because I just can't read it anymore. I have had to read it in spurts rather than all in one or two sittings, and as such am only partway through the book and realized last night that it's leaving me genuinely depressed! I'm sure there's hope and inspiration in there somewhere toward the end and g
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Jillian Shiebler
I read this for a class in college called The Psychology of Death and Dying. It ended up being one of the best books I've ever read. Since it's a memoir, it's a little raw, but beautifully told. I always think of her around the anniversary of 9/11. I suggest investing in many boxes of tissues though...
Marianne Jay
Where were you when the Twin Towers fell? I was in Jewel, grocery shopping, and my ex-husband called and told me to get back home and turn on the television. At the time, I was living in downtown Chicago and not far from 2 of our landmark tall buildings ~ Sears Tower and The John Hancock Building.

Marian Fontana explains to her readers 9/11 from a widows point of view. She explains every single heart-wrenching emotion but she writes so beautifully.

She tells us about her 4 year old son and how his
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Heather
This book stays with you long after you have read the last page. I am still moved by it. I hesitate to mark this book 5 stars only because it is about such a horrific event. However, it is well written and she does such an amazing job of letting you into her thoughts and emotions, and she paints of a very clear picture of what 9-11 was like for her. Marian Fontana was married to Dave Fontana, a firefighter in the Prospect Park neighborhood of New York City. They had a five year old son, Aidan. S ...more
Lori Reed
Marian Fontana and her husband, New York City Firefighter Dave Fontana, were about to celebrate their eighth wedding anniversary, but then the call came in, the call that would change the lives of every American. In A Widow’s Walk: A Memoir of 9/11 Marian Fontana shares a deeply personal story of grief, coping, and triumph in the aftermath of 9/11. Fontana recounts the days of searching for her husband, the months of wakes and funerals she attended, the year of battling with the mayor and city t ...more
Janie  R.
This was an awe-inspiring memoir written by the wife of a firefighter who died on 911,at the South Tower, trying to save people. Marian Fontana tells of her journey from that day. She spoke with her husband,Dave on the phone-who was getting off his shift at the Firehouse, and was to meet her for breakfast to begin their day together, celebrating their 8th wedding anniversary.And so the story continues- there were times when I was reading the book, where it made me cry,yet Marian,at one time had ...more
Dawn
Sep 12, 2011 Dawn rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested on 9/11 events.
Recommended to Dawn by: I read a review about this book online.
A moving story of how a widow and her son made it through the first year after 9/11. The story was so heart wrenching at times, that I had to put the book down to take a break from all the sorrow. I learned so many things about what the families went through during the months following 9/11. I don't know how the widows of the firefighters were able to get through attending one funeral service after another. Many of them were still waiting for any remains to be found of their own husbands. Though ...more
Mishty
What happens when you lose the one you love the most? Your life changes forever. Hers too, did.

Beautifully written.
Graceann
Jun 01, 2008 Graceann rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: memoir
Please see my detailed review at Amazon.com Grace's "Widow's Walk" Review

Please click that the review was helpful to you at Amazon so that my rating continues to climb! Thanks!

This book was gut-wrenching and painful and I'm so glad I read it. Marian Fontana is a very gifted writer, and she turned what could have been a trite story about losing one's husband into a treatise on pain and the fallacy of "healing on a timetable" to which most who grieve have been subjected. Not to be missed.
Lori Knight
Great book. I should have written this book after my own husband died.
Kathryn French
This is the first book about 9/11 I've read. It is a difficult read, emotionally gripping. It is well done. If you have any firefighters or police who are important in your life, this is a wonderful depiction of who they are and what they and their families go through.
Connie
I could not get through this book. I normally don't give bad reviews and I especially hate to do this on a true story. I just felt that each 100 pages could be condensed in about 25. I didn't sense too much personal style in her writing and there were so many names mentioned that I would have to go back and say "who was that again?" and it just slowed down the reading. I just found it entirely too detailed about the tiniest of events. I do sense that she is a strong woman and I know that this is ...more
Lee Ann
This book was loaned to me by my friend Ruth whose reading recommendations I always respect. It was difficult to read at times, the subject being too intense. I would just put it down for a while until I could come back to it. It also trudged along at times, with too many funerals and meetings and people I couldn't place, but then that's probably just what Marian's life was like then. I'm glad I read it and remembered again what it was like after 9/11.
Lennie
In this book, Marian describes losing her firefighter husband in the Twin Towers on 9/11 and how she struggled to cope with the loss. It was sad to read how her husband was ten minutes away from getting off his shift when the towers were struck. I admire her ccourage and thought she did an excellent job in making the reader understand how it felt to be in NYC on 9/11 and what the spouses of firefighters went through after their death.
Gina
This is one of the best books I've read about 9/11. The author, who loses her husband (he is a firefighter) during 9/11, does a tremendous job telling her story. She is candid about her feelings and describes her husband and their relationship well. I learned a lot about the clean-up efforts after 9/11 as well, including the process to try to identify bodies. It was moving and even though it was long, it was a relatively quick read.
Ingrid
I FINALLY finished it! It hasn't taken me this long to read a book in a long time. So, it was good to hear an actual account of 9/11 from a widow's perspective. Ofcourse it is depressing. Moves pretty slowly, kind of drags on a bit. Very sad.

I've put a hold on reading this one for a little bit...just really sad. When the story you're reading is actually real, it makes it a little more difficult to get through.
Jenny.p
One of the best accounts of post 9/11 grief/chronicle of 9/11 widowhood I have ever read. This book is about the vivid small details of pain and healing as much as it is about the larger political issues; she recounts her story so vividly recounted so unselfconsciously and frankly yet there is nothing manipulative about her storytelling (which is a feat when writing about this subject matter).
Teri
I can't imagine how difficult it was for Marian Fontana to write this book about her husband's death on September 11. When writing about her emotions and experiences as a widow of 9/11, she is remarkably detailed and even humorous at times. However, the parts of the book that are filled with name after name of those who she came in contact with after 9/11 bogged me down.
Ctetlow
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christine
Chosen by another book club member, this was a tough book for me, especially when I read about the author's interactions with a family that I knew - that hit me rather poignantly. Well written, and a 'real' book - included all the facets of a relationship lost - the good and the bad.
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