A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal

A Beautiful, Terrible Thing is an extraordinarily gutsy memoir. Jen Waite is a smart, beautiful aspiring actress when she meets handsome, charming Marco. Their first encounters are like a fairy tale; they both "just know" they have found "the one." Jen is not alone in her estimation of Marco, who wins over her family with his charisma and open devotion. Madly in love, within five years they marry and are expecting their first child.

Upon their daughter's birth, however, their perfect path takes an abrupt hairpin turn. Jen stumbles across an e-mail Marco has sent to a real estate agent referencing a girlfriend and an apartment. Marco vehemently denies an affair. He also claims he must be ill, because when he looks at the wife he adored only recently he "feel[s] nothing." Thus begins Jen Waite's journey through hell. One morning, deep into the morass of her troubled marriage, Jen turns to Google and is hit with the horrific realization that her husband is a textbook psychopath. With sudden clarity, Jen knows she needs to get her daughter away from the toxic relationship.

Written in "Before" and "After" timelines separated by the day Jen finds Marco's e-mail, the memoir is brutally painful from both ends. Waite's experience is haunting and fascinating. The writing is evocative, so detailed and forthright that the grief and confusion resonates from every page. Waite does a great service to those who have likewise suffered, particularly with undeserved feelings of shame. Anyone could end up in Waite's shoes, but the path she ultimately decides to walk in them is one of beauty and triumph. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

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