STARRED REVIEW
July 11, 2017

Recovery after a devastating betrayal

By Jen Waite

Jen Waite’s memoir of betrayal and infidelity has hit a cultural nerve. Offering up every woman’s nightmare, A Beautiful, Terrible Thing expands on the story Waite originally offered in viral blog posts: While she was in labor with her daughter, her husband was on the phone with his girlfriend. When she fled to her parents’ house in Maine to recover from the birth, her husband checked out new apartments with the woman Waite calls “Croella.” When she confronted her husband, he denied it all.

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Jen Waite’s memoir of betrayal and infidelity has hit a cultural nerve. Offering up every woman’s nightmare, A Beautiful, Terrible Thing expands on the story Waite originally offered in viral blog posts: While she was in labor with her daughter, her husband was on the phone with his girlfriend. When she fled to her parents’ house in Maine to recover from the birth, her husband checked out new apartments with the woman Waite calls “Croella.” When she confronted her husband, he denied it all. And then, as Waite obsessively checked her husband’s email, phone records and social media, she discovered that he’d been a womanizing, pathological liar all along.

Waite’s full-length memoir is like a car crash the reader can’t look away from. Yes, the husband is on the psychopathic spectrum; yes, he is incapable of empathy; and yes, he is a “bad man.” But this reader, at least, longed for a little more self-reflection on the part of the narrator. Her obsessive rifling through her husband’s email and phone records, Uber receipts and Netflix movies, is unhealthy and compulsive at the very least.

Waite’s marriage only occurred in 2014, so this is still fresh material. One wonders how she will continue to process this frightening story in the fullness of time. The resolution here indicates that Waite is now in training to become a therapist specializing in recovery from abusive relationships. Suspenseful and gripping, A Beautiful, Terrible Thing documents the dynamics of an abusive marriage and is sure to spark important conversations.

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