The pictures are burned into our collective brains, and the facts are familiar to people all over the world. But five years after 9/11, many of us still want to know: How did those spouses cope? How would I manage if faced with such overwhelming tragedy? The story of how four 9/11 widows coped and healed and found love again is told in Love You, Mean It: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Friendship. Patricia Carrington, Julia Collins, Claudia Gerbasi and Ann Haynes were vibrant young women, almost all of them newlyweds, when their loved ones left for work one September day and never came back. Their shared memoir traces their storybook courtships and marriages, how their lives were wrenched apart after the attack and how fate brought them together as The Widow's Club based on true understanding and the gruesome bond they share. We've learned that life isn't always easy or predictable or fair, the women write.

As they rebuild lives now vulnerable to horror, and sink into routines where his side of the bed doesn't exist, they drown their tears together in New York restaurants and bars and heal each other through constant calls and e-mail (the book's title is taken from a favorite way to sign off). They also take trips to the beach and foreign places where any and all emotions can surface (a trip to the island where Julia eloped with her husband nearly proves too much) and attend yearly memorials at Ground Zero.

It's impossible to truly understand another's sorrow, but Love You, Mean It manages to demonstrate the massive personal devastation of the 9/11 attack, and as the women begin to date and even marry again ( Maybe it was ungrateful to pray for more than the enormous amount we'd already been given, they write), the generosity and resiliency of the human heart. Deanna Larson writes from Nashville.

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