Kathleen Buhle, Hunter Biden's Ex, to Address Their Divorce in Book: 'I Lost My Sense of Who I Was'

President Joe Biden's former daughter-in-law will share more about the end of her marriage — and the impact addiction can have on a relationship — in her forthcoming memoir, If We Break

kathleen buhle
Kathleen Buhle. Photo: chuck kennedy

Kathleen Buhle is opening up for the first time about the unraveling of her marriage to Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden's son, which ended in 2017 amid the younger Biden's then-secret struggles with addiction.

Buhle, a 53-year-old nonprofit development executive, shares what her publisher calls a "story of resilience and self-discovery" in her forthcoming book, If We Break: A Memoir of Marriage, Addiction, and Healing.

The book, due out June 14, will be the first time Hunter's ex-wife has made any public comment about their divorce or its aftermath, though some of their split did play out in the courts.

Buhle and Hunter married in 1993, splitting after some 24 years of marriage. They share three daughters: Naomi, Finnegan, and Maisy.

In February 2017, Buhle alleged in a legal filing that her estranged ex had spent money on drugs, alcohol, prostitutes and strip clubs.

Buhle's book doesn't shy away from those previous disclosures; instead, it will shine a light on the "heavy toll" addiction can take on relationships, according to the book's publisher.

"When my marriage ended, I felt like I'd lost my sense of who I was," Buhle tells PEOPLE. "Anyone who has seen addiction ruin a relationship, or been through infidelity and divorce, can tell you how devastating it feels. But what I also realized through those crushing experiences is that I needed to find a way to stand on my own."

If We Break
If We Break by Kathleen Buhle. Penguin Random House

"Writing this book has been incredibly healing for me," Buhle says, "and my hope is it will be meaningful to those who have been through addiction or divorce, and especially to women who have felt like their entire identity was tied to their spouse. In the end, divorce allowed me to find my strength."

Hunter opened up about his addiction issues in his own memoir Beautiful Things, released in 2021, writing that he at one point was drinking a quart of vodka a day; at another, he lived with a homeless woman who was also his dealer. He has since spoken about finding new peace and stability while living on the West Coast, where he also works as a painter.

In a pair of interviews with CBS News about his book, the younger Biden said he was convinced that "trauma" stemming from the 1972 car crash that killed his mother, Neilia, and his infant sister, Naomi, was at the center of his addictions.

Hunter and his late brother, Beau, were in the car with them and were both injured.

Beautiful Things also touched on other of Hunter's personal and professional challenges, though with more circumspection, including the acrimonious collapse of his marriage.

kathleen buhle and hunter biden
From left: Kathleen Buhle and Hunter Biden. Paul Morigi/Getty

Buhle's book, meanwhile, "tells her own story from her working class roots on the South Side of Chicago to losing her maiden name and a part of herself in becoming Kathleen Biden, to finding a renewed sense of identity, purpose, and joy after the devastating collapse of her marriage," according to her publisher.

The cover of If We Break features a photo of Buhle and Hunter, taken during a 2014 family trip to Nantucket for Thanksgiving.

The couple had reportedly finalized their divorce in Washington, D.C., by April 2017, settling "all questions relating to custody, support, property rights, and all other rights" in a confidential agreement.

Six weeks prior to his divorce with Buhle being finished, Hunter revealed that he was in a relationship with Hallie, Beau's widow. Beau died in May 2015 of brain cancer.

Hunter and Hallie's relationship was short-lived however and in 2019, Hunter met Melissa Cohen in Los Angeles. The two were married within days and welcomed a son in the spring of 2020.

According to a biography from her publisher, Buhle has worked on women's issues in Washington, D.C., for the past decade and served as director of strategic partnerships at the domestic violence nonprofit DC Volunteer Lawyers Project. She is also the founder of The House at 1229, a new collaborative space for women.

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