Church wedding

After divorce, Shelton native ‘regained’ her joy of single life in Tuscany

SHELTON — Sara Braca planned her wedding day to perfection. That was until St. Lawrence Church, home to a big event, caught fire just days before her nuptials.

That was in 2002. Braca’s wedding eventually took place at St. Joseph’s Church that year, but six years later the marriage ended, leaving the longtime Shelton resident to join the singles ranks.

“That led to my life motto: When God burns down the church, annul the marriage,” Braca said. This comedic, self-deprecating narrative is a staple of his debut book, “The Other Half of Single: A Memoir.”

Braca has never liked writing, admitting that she has spent most of her life avoiding the practice. But the change in her life brought with it the desire to tell her story and led her to spend her free hours writing the book she never expected to create.

“I felt like I had a message I needed to share, that I could help other single people in a unique way to see the joy in their lives,” said Braca, who was born and raised in Shelton but who now lives in Siena, Italy. “I wanted to empower them to live their lives to the fullest, now, as a couple or not.”

Braca – whose Shelton roots remain strong, with her parents, Annette and Joe Braca, still living in the house she grew up in – said her book is a collection of her real-life adventures as she “regained” her joy.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 28% of U.S. households are single, up from 13% in 1960. Singles are a rapidly growing demographic and yet, she says, the stigma against single people persists.

“Although there are plenty of books telling singles how to find a mate, almost nothing suggests they’re celebrating where they are right now,” Braca said. “It’s time we stop making singles feel inadequate and start celebrating the unique opportunities to be single gifts.

“I hope this encourages singles around the world to live their lives to the fullest now,” she added.

Braca said she was inspired to write this book after coming across a book called ‘The Opposite of Loneliness’, by Marina Keegan – a collection of short stories published posthumously after her untimely death at the age of 23. .

“She was so talented, but silenced. At that time, it felt wrong to silence my own voice. So, I started writing,” Braca said.

Braca, the valedictorian of Shelton High Class in 1995, spent her early years obsessed with math, avoiding writing at all costs. She said that when it came time to write her college application essays, she was incredibly anxious.

“At the time, Dartmouth required applicants to choose the topic they wanted to write about,” Braca recalls. “My guidance counselor at Shelton High suggested that I write about how I disliked writing, so I wrote this very comedic essay, quoting some of my own English class essays. was a huge hit in Dartmouth, and I got accepted in. My book has a similar, slightly self-deprecating comedic style.

After graduating from Shelton High, she attended Dartmouth and then the Wharton School for her MBA. She has worked in marketing for years.

She moved to Italy in June 2021, and thanks to the new culture of remote work, she works for an American company in Tuscany.

She is vice president of marketing for Beyond Better Foods – makers of the Enlightened brand of low-sugar ice cream and desserts – and is responsible for all marketing strategy and communications. And now she’s a writer in her spare time.

“I’ve been working on the book for almost four years,” she said. “I was working full time while trying to write it, so finding the time to write and be creative was a challenge. Also, as a former math student, I had a lot of down syndrome. impostor and self-doubt.

“One of my fondest memories in the publishing process was when my editor said to me, ‘Stop telling me about your math background. You’re a writer now,'” she said.

In the book, she describes the transformative power of travel and, unsurprisingly, most of the experiences that have influenced her today involve travel.

Among the trips she writes about is her first solo trip to Amsterdam. Walking along a canal in the sun, admiring the city’s famous flower market, she realized this was the time when she could choose her own path.

“I could choose to be happy despite what had happened,” she added.

Other experiences were the cliffs of Santorini, the Greek island, and when her rental car broke down in Portugal on the way to the airport and she found herself alone on the side of the road a Sunday morning in a country where she doesn’t speak the language.

“In many ways, writing it was very cathartic,” she said. “The book is a collection of my real-life adventures, starting with the fire at Saint-Laurent Church and its impact on my marriage.

“There’s something about the act of writing that has allowed me to see the patterns in my life more clearly and really come to terms with them,” Braca said, adding that, for example, while she wished that her ex-husband handled the split differently, she’s grateful he’s gone.

“It became very clear to me how much happier I am when I’m single,” she said.

The book can be purchased through IndieGogo until April 30 by visiting

. Her instagram address is @sara_braca_author