Wednesday, August 6, 2014

After I Do - Taylor Jenkins Reid

After I Do book cover
After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Source/Format: Netgalley (Thanks S&S!) || e-galley
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.

Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for? (from Goodreads)

I’m sitting here, severely tempted to simply point you in the direction of Hannah’s review where she so adequately expresses how she (and I, too) feel about After I Do. I’d been interested in reading Forever, Interrupted, Reid’s first novel, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. When this one popped up on my radar in a review request, I decided to take the opportunity and see what the buzz over this author was about.

The long and short of it is this: I was blown away. While I do read a fair bit of contemporary fiction, chick lit if you will, I’ve not experienced one that rendered me so speechless or so emotional in a while. After I Do is a love story, but a very different kind of love story. 

It focuses on Ryan and Lauren, a couple who met in college and got married soon after graduation. Their marriage has slowly turned into something unrecognizable, and finally arrives at a point where they realize that they can no longer tolerate each other. Instead of immediately divorcing or continuing to bicker, these two embark on an unconventional path: they decided to take a year apart, no communication whatsoever, to reevaluate and give each other some much-needed space.

Wow. Just, wow. I knew, going into After I Do, that it was bound to be a bit heavy on the emotions considering it tackled a love that seems to have faded or disappeared. I did not expect to fall so in love with these real, these flawed, these totally relatable and lovable people who populate this story, and I’m not just talking about Ryan and Lauren. I did not expect that the story would touch on other things – family, friendship, self-identity – or that I would see real life reflected so well on these pages.

I also did not expect to be challenged into thinking about love: how to nurture and care for it, how it can get strained or troubled or withered or fractured, how it feels like when it first appears, how it feels like when you’re in the thick of things, how it feels when everything is falling apart. This, friends, is where the heart of After I Do really lies, and what really broke me apart and put me back together as I read. Reid simply gets it; she captures what love can feel/be like in real life with this story.

Quite simply, After I Do is one of the best novels I’ve read this year. The characters completely captured my heart, becoming people I cared about and loved. The story, however, simply grabbed me and refused to let go, cementing my love affair with this novel through emotion and connection. If you’ve yet to pick up a Reid book, like I hadn’t before now, I definitely think you should – and you can start with this one if you like! As for me, I’ll be off to pick up my copy of Forever, Interrupted

5 comments:

  1. What a great review! I was intrigued by this book after I first heard of it, but after reading this review After I Do has definitely been bumped up to the top of my to-read list! Sounds amazing. Looking forward to it!

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  2. Great review! I just read this one and really liked it as well :) It's so relatable for people who are in long-term relationships/marriages. I found the characters very real as well.

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  3. I remember seeing Hannah's review of this! After both her and your glowing reviews, I definitely want to read it!! I bought Forever, Interrupted after I read Hannah's review of it and it arrived recently, so I'm going to read that first! This is definitely on my list too though!! I'm excited to read these!!

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  4. Did you read Forever, Interrupted first? I want to try Taylor Jenkins Reid but I'm not sure which one to start with.

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  5. I am so happy you loved this book!!!! I was blown away too and the nurturing of love was right on. I am not in the same place in my life but now I feel like I have married inside info for later on :)

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Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)

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