Written by Alissa Torres and Drawn by Sungyoon Choi
Published by
Villard Books

Alissa Torres was like plenty of other American women. She had a husband whom she had recently quarreled with, she was carrying her first baby, and she was worried about the future. But one fateful Tuesday morning, life turned her into an unfortunate statistic. Tuesday, September 11, 2001, her husband began his second day of work at Cantor-Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center. And like thousands of others, that day, he did not survive the terrorist attack that changed the direction of the world. Shell-shocked, pregnant, and alone, the months that followed would be an unending lesson in pain, grief, bureaucracy, and resentment. This is her story.

AMERICAN WIDOW arrived on shelves September 9th, 2008, seven years after Torres’ husband Eddie was lost in the attack. I waited until the 11th to read it, supposing it would that would offer the most impact to the story, but I needn’t have worried; Torres’ story would be powerful and affecting no matter what day of the year you read it.

Certainly, you can’t take away from the central event at the heart of her tale; we were all affected by 9/11 in some way, shape or form, and it informs so much of what our society is like today. Reading the story of one woman’s personal nightmare in its wake carries a lot of power. But what makes AMERICAN WIDOW an ever stronger read is that, were this the story of a pregnant woman who lost her husband in a terrible fire of an auto accident, it would still contain great emotional depth and pathos

Following Torres through her struggles is a painful thing, and while you might hope for a bright resolution in the end, there really isn’t one; she doesn’t fake it for this book.

She is aided nicely by Choi on the art chores. Choi keeps the storytelling direct and the panels clean, conveying emotion above all else. The book is done in black and white, a wise choice, as color would overwhelm the sense of despair and anguish emanating from Torres on every page. We do get one splash of color on the final page, but it feels earned, because we need it to reconcile the complete book and achieve a resolution to her tale.

AMERICAN WIDOW is one of the most high profile releases of 2008, and will likely be in line for some awards when all is said and done.

Marc Mason