"A brilliant, tragically timely second novel ... an indictment of gun culture, hot-take journalism, and social media, and if that sounds like a miserable premise for a novel, fear not: McAllister is a brave and stylish writer, and Anna is a singular creation.

Intensely smart. Sharply written." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"This book might not be a traditional instruction guide, but it is a biting evisceration of contemporary American life, offering a sane look at a not-so-sane world. It’s safe to say that How to Be Safe is one of the most inventive, sobering, and hilarious novels I’ve read in years." –Michele Filgate, contributing editor at LitHub

"This is one of those books you don't know if you can read, and then after you don't know how you lived in a world without it. It's chock full of the things that are killing us: mass shootings, misogyny, the internet, media frenzies, tribalism. And it's so wonderful - so furious and so funny and urgent and needed in this mad ugly space we're sharing with each other. I can't believe this book was written by a man - but I'm so happy Tom McAllister wrote it." –Amber Sparks, author of The Unfinished World


"Funny, sad, and smart, The Young Widower’s Handbook is a brilliant meditation on love, loss and loneliness. Part wacky road novel, part romantic comedy, Tom McAllister's debut novel flies along yet reaches deep.” —Stewart O'Nan, author of West of Sunset

The Young Widower’s Handbook is a stunning, clear-eyed examination of the complexity of grief. In McAllister's hands, this story of a man dealing with the loss of his wife takes on such depth and surprising humor that you can't help but give yourself over, heart and soul, to Hunter's journey.” —Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang

"McAllister writes with heartfelt emotion about the sudden death of a spouse in this remarkable debut novel. Hunter Cady, an immature 29—his life filled with such attempts at self-improvement as “the Month of No Hot Dogs,” and “the Month of Being Romantic”—spends an inordinate amount of time with his wife, Kait, planning for all the wonderful trips they will someday take. He has the shock of his life when she suddenly dies because of a ruptured fallopian tube from an ectopic pregnancy that they had no knowledge of. Nearly catatonic with grief, he finally takes his wife’s’ ashes with him on the road trip they never took. Along the way readers learn about Hunter’s no-nonsense father and New Age mother. He has a comical and nearly tragic experience at a renaissance fair, and at one point he joins an older man in search of the wife who left him years ago. Hunter’s poignant realizations about what his wife meant to him, intermingled with his humorous and spot-on views of the people and places he encounters, as well as how he uses social media to grieve, bring him to the fitting conclusion that even beyond the grave, Kait helps him become the man he always wanted to be for her." - Publisher's Weekly

"Twenty-nine-year-old Hunter Cady, who describes himself as "actually about fifteen when it comes to real life experience," finds in Kait, his wife, a person who 'anchored him to the world.' They are in love and finding their way in the world together. And then she's dead. This novel is the story of Hunter's first months without Kait. In shock and unable to deal with his grief, Hunter takes Kait's ashes on a road trip, alarming his parents and angering Kait's mother and brothers. He has little plan, and what plan he has goes awry several times. He meets people and sometimes that goes really poorly, sometimes really well. It's darkly humorous either way. The chapters alternate between second-person narrative ('When you dream you never see her. You only dream about being lost in a cavernous house and searching for her') and third-person ('The only thing in his life he'd ever fully committed to was loving her, which he tried to demonstrate via the completion of what some people call the little things.'). This can be jarring but seems in line with the chaotic emotions Hunter is experiencing. The story resolves nicely without tying up every loose end, leaving room for readers to think about what Hunter's life will be like. A quirky, well-told fiction debut from McAllister (Bury Me in My Jersey: A Memoir of My Father, Football, and Philly, 2010) that doesn't cover any new ground in exploring the sudden loss of a spouse but covers it differently." - Kirkus Reviews

"McAllister’s debut novel is at turns funny and touching, particularly in the vignettes sandwiched between the narrative, which delve into Hunter’s thoughts and feelings about his marriage and his wife. Expect comparisons to Jonathan Tropper and Nick Hornby." - Booklist

"Despite the premise of tragedy... the vivid romantic reminiscences and startling humor make McAllister's debut novel rather life-affirming.  " - Harper's Bazaar

"The Young Widower's Handbook dances on the edges of both absurdity and sorrow, and author Tom McAllister... keeps the two from clanging... Keep the tissues handy." - Philadelphia Magazine

"What is appealing about The Young Widower’s Handbook isn’t that it’s funny and entertaining, but that it is both of those things while being honest about grief. The road trip isn’t really about him taking a delayed honeymoon with his dead wife; it’s about him trying to come to terms with the person his dead wife believed him to be. This book is filled with organic relationships, moments, interactions, and characters. Even though it’s a sad book (I mean, what do you expect from the title?), it’s a book full of truths that speak to the full human experience, from happiness to sadness and everything in between." - Joseph Edwin Haeger in The Big Smoke 

"McAllister explores Hunter and Kait’s relationship, its inequalities and shortcomings, and overall he does a wonderful job developing compelling characters in a believable situation... For readers who want to experience a tumultuous adventure through deep grief, wrestle through acceptance, and experience its catharsis, Handbook absolutely delivers. Hunter’s choices might not reflect what we think we would do in his circumstances, but we feel every bump on these misadventures.  - Alyssa Gillon in Atticus Review 

" McAllister’s skilled mixing of the morbid with the mundane creates a comic effect, and sneakily causes the reader to care.... This story is all about ideals vs. reality. McAllister’s biggest victory is that he allows the reader at once to be annoyed with Hunter’s limited worldview and to hope for the best for him. It earns him his ending, which I won’t say any more about. This one, you should read for yourself." - Sarah Hoenicke in Wales Arts Review

 "Hunter Cady is a most unremarkable man, yet his love for his wife makes him a most sympathetic protagonist... Less a guide than a map of an internal journey, Tom McAllister's compelling novel is about a man who never did much of anything... Though terminal ennui could become tiresome, McAllister adroitly deals with a major issue: How does one partner keep going after the other dies?" - Jacqueline Cutler in

"Grief is likewise the centerpoint of Tom McAllister’s sweetly moving debut...There are some funny encounters along the way — I particularly liked Hunter’s hapless visit to a Renaissance Faire — but 'The Young Widower’s Handbook' is most affecting as an almost stream-of-consciousness love letter to Kait; McAllister makes us fall in love with her, just as Hunter did." - Moira Macdonald in The Seattle Times

"A bittersweet, often heartrending story of love lost way too soon... Be warned, this is among the most heartbreaking first chapters in contemporary literature... " - Patricia Ann McNair in Washington Independent Review of Books