After I Do
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid (website | twitter)
Publisher: Washington Square Press (Simon & Schuster)
Genre: Adult Fiction
Source/Format: Library eBook
Publication date: July 1st 2014
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
From the author of Forever, Interrupted—hailed by Sarah Jio as “moving, gorgeous, and at times heart-wrenching”—comes a breathtaking new novel about modern marriage, the depth of family ties, and the year that one remarkable heroine spends exploring both.
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?
This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game—and searching for a new road to happily ever after.
This book was not on my radar at all until Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner) mentioned it, then I read reviews from Estelle (Rather Be Reading), Alexa (Alexa Loves Books), and Hannah (So Obsessed With) and knew that I needed to put this at the top of my TBR (thanks, ladies!)
The reason? This year has been a hard one for me and my husband – we’ve gone through a ton of ups and downs, starting with getting our stuff stolen on our honeymoon and my depression in the fall to a very hard house hunt, a ton of renovations, and finally, our move. So it’s fitting that this, my first review in my new house, is an adult fiction book about the trials of marriage.
I know this isn’t a book that is going to appeal to everyone, and definitely not my usual readers. It’s a book focused solely on one marriage, and it is very emotional and deliberately unsubtle.
The thing is…sometimes you need a book like this. Sometimes you need to read something where the characters are going through something very close to your heart, and the writing is pragmatic and speaks to you like it’s you saying the words. After I Do isn’t didactic, but for me, it felt like a self-help book that I desperately needed.
After I Do very cleverly starts at the beginning of one of the worst fights that Lauren and Ryan have, then cycles backwards so we see the beginning of their relationship together, and the major milestones. These are people who love each other dearly, who really complement one another, but as the years go on, you can see how miscommunication, habit, and neglect wear down on them.
After I Do somehow manages to be both a very emotional read as well as a solid one. And it’s a book about more than just marriage – it’s about family. Each and every one of Lauren’s family and friends had a perspective on relationships, and particularly, on her relationship, and it was fascinating to see all of those opinions and how they changed as the year went on. The backstories were great, and as I read, I felt like I was part of Lauren’s family. I was just as invested in what would happen to her brother, sister, mom, and grandmother as I was in her.
But Lauren. Wow. She’s almost too relatable. Reid isn’t afraid to put all of her foibles out on display, and every thought she has is one I’ve had – or been afraid to have – in my one year of marriage. I can’t even count how many passages I highlighted, because her realizations spoke to me so clearly. No matter who you are or where you are in your relationship, I think you’ll relate to Lauren as she deals with pain, heartbreak, and realization in her year alone. It’s really cathartic to go through it with her.
This is a book to read when things get rough in your relationships. It’s a book that will stir your heart and remind you of all the good and the bad in relationships, and maybe, make you fall in love with your significant other all over again.
Life Lessons: You really get the sense that the author, Taylor Jenkins Reid, put her soul on the table with this book. This is writing that comes from the heart, and comes from a place of deep learning and searching and sharing of wisdom. I was inspired by how much she gave of herself and how much that resonated.
The Final Word:
After I Do is one of the most realistic portrayals of love I’ve read. It got to the heart of everything: the really hard stuff, the little moments in between, and the moments of sheer joy. It’s not a read I’d recommend for all the time – but it’s one that I will recommend and give to friends in moments of need, when just need to just believe again – in yourself, in your relationships, and in family.
Are you interested in reading AFTER I DO? Do you read adult fiction? Do you have books that you read when times get rough? How much do you draw inspiration or relate to what you read? Let me know in the comments!