One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

 

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Emma Blair married her high school love Jesse Lerner. Together they built a life that revolved around their shared love for travel and adventure. They may be living in a crappy apartment, and broke most of the time. But they were together, and doing the things they have always planned on doing together. Ever since that drunken night in high school when he told her how much he hated swimming, and how much she hated working in her parents’ bookstore, Jesse and Emma always knew that they were meant to fall in love, stay together for a long time, and eventually get married. That’s exactly what they did, and life was perfect.

Until one day, it wasn’t. Just a day before their first wedding anniversary, Jesse flew to Alaska for a work assignment. The helicopter he was flying in crashed somewhere in the North Pacific, killing all four people on board. Jesse’s body was never found, and he was tragically presumed dead.

Losing the love of her life nearly drove Emma insane. The pain was nothing she’d ever known. Then she realized that if she let herself hurt every single day, she would waste away the best years of her life. She made the decision to leave California and move back to her hometown of Acton, Massachusetts, to start all over again.

And then just like that, she meets her old friend Sam Kemper. And then just like that, Emma finds herself feeling genuinely happy, alive, and in love again. So happy, alive, and in love that when Sam asked her to marry him, yes was the only possible answer. Sam was perfect, and life was perfect.

Until, again, it wasn’t. Three and half years since that fateful day, Jesse Lerner has been found and was finally on his way back home to her. Forced in an impossible situation, Emma finds herself with two wonderful men she both loves desperately, and who love her back just as much.

Can a person ever really have more than one true love? Should she be with the man that she has loved all her life, or should she be with the man who made her believe in love again? Does she want to be the Emma that Jesse has always known, or does she like this new version of herself that Sam helped her to become?

Like with any Taylor Jenkins Reid novel, this is an emotional tale from start to finish. I love that it’s a quiet and beautiful story, one that you don’t even realize how much it hurts to read and see the whole story unfold. It’s not your typical love triangle wherein you can easily hate one and then love the other. It feels so real, and it will make you wonder what you’ll even do if you were ever in the same situation. It’s enough to drive a girl crazy having two great loves in your life at the same time. But having to make a choice on who stays? How can you even?

There are so many takeaways in this book. I highlighted so many lines, because they are just so simple yet stunning words. Always so deep and emotional, raw and honest. It’s beautiful and sad and happy, with an ending that feels just right. I agree that true love doesn’t always last. Sometimes you only just have to experience it to know that it’s real. Consider yourself really lucky if you end up with your true love, but count yourself even luckier if you find it twice in one lifetime.

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After You by Jojo Moyes

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Image from www.jojomoyes.com

After You picks up on the events that happened after Will Traynor’s death, which took place in the first book, Me Before You. Louisa Clark is still trying to find her way back into the real world, one without Will in it, but with all of his memories everywhere. She goes through life on autopilot; working her crappy pub job at the airport to pay the bills and buy the groceries, living in a colorless and lifeless London flat, and attending a grief support group called Moving On Circle once a week.

Everything in her life feels like a major letdown, and for once, she’s glad that Will is no longer around to see what has become of her. If that’s not depressing enough, she suffers a freak accident right in her own home, forcing her to stay with her parents in her hometown of Stortfold where more family drama awaits. Lou is so ready to accept her fate; that this is as good as it gets, and that she’s simply just not that person Will was convinced she could be.

And then one day, someone from Will’s past turns up at her door. Someone who could’ve possibly been one more reason for Will to want to live, if only they had met sooner. But this someone is even more messed up than Lou, and she finds herself asking: What would Lou have done?

For the first time in a long time, Lou finds a purpose.

What follows next is a rollercoaster of emotions as major life problems unravel and then get sorted out, families break up and make up, and broken hearts are mended and made whole again. Lou finally understands that she need not live in sadness and misery to keep Will alive in her heart forever.

Me Before You was what made me a big Jojo Moyes fan. It’s beautiful, sad, and heartbreaking, and I will forever remain a fan of Will and Lou’s love story. It was such a great book that didn’t need any follow-up book. However, if you know a second book exists out there, you just can’t ignore it. You can’t just not read it.

Overall, After You is not quite as beautiful as Me Before You, but it’s still a nice and entertaining read. For something that deals with grief and moving on, it didn’t feel dark and depressing. It’s actually light, positive, and even laugh out loud funny. Thank you to Ambulance Sam and the guys at the Moving On Circle. They pretty much saved this book for me. I loved the whole flirtation game with Ambulance Sam, and he’s just the kind of man who can get someone like Lou to start loving again.

The sudden appearance of that new major character plus the Clark and Traynor family drama just felt contrived, so I wasn’t too happy about those. I think this plot twist is just tired and too convenient. I would have enjoyed reading a story told from Will Traynor’s point of view, possibly his life before the accident, or his life while with Lou. That would have been loads better than this plot twist straight out of a daytime soap opera. This, however, doesn’t make me less of a Jojo Moyes fan.

Before I Go by Colleen Oakley

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Like a cruel twist of fate, on the eve of what should have been her third year of being cancer-free, twenty-seven-year-old Daisy Richmond finds out that her cancer is back, and there’s lots of it. It’s not good. The cancer has spread to different parts of her body in a very rapid and aggressive manner. Doctors break the news that her stage four cancer will give her about four months. But the clinical trial can give her more, if she agrees to participate.

Having cancer, or dying of cancer, does not terrify Daisy anymore. She did everything to make sure the cancer did not come back, but still it did, so surely this must be her life’s course. It’s out of her hands now. What truly haunts her every waking moment is the thought of leaving her husband Jack behind.

Who will make sure that he’s eating right, that his dirty socks don’t pile up by the foot of the bed, that he gets the windows caulked, and that he doesn’t lose his keys? Who will hold his hand, kiss his face, and keep his bed warm? Who will make sure that he will finish his doctorate and graduate on time? These are the thoughts that keep Daisy awake at night and sick to her stomach. She cannot leave her kind and brilliant husband to his own devices. Jack will come apart at the seams when she’s gone. Daisy’s certain of it. And that’s the last thing she wants to happen.

It’s time to find him a new wife.

Daisy’s search for the perfect new wife will leave you feeling conflicted. At first, I thought it would be a cheesy drama with lots of hysterical tears in the end. There were tears, yes, but they were both happy and sad tears. Colleen Oakley’s “Before I Go” succeeded in striking a balance between heartbreak and hope, and joy and sadness. I didn’t bawl my eyes out, but I felt like there was something lodged in my throat most of the time, and I was blinking away hot tears before anybody could notice. It’s not your first choice of a book to read because of its gloomy subject, but the author had written the story in a way that is light, funny, and heartbreakingly real. More than the cancer, it focused on how this disease eats away at relationships, and how this disease can also bring people together. I loved that the book didn’t feel like a death sentence, but more of a bittersweet, melancholic, and thoughtful journey of a young and courageous woman, and it felt just right.