Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Find the author: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest
Also by this author: After I Do, Maybe in Another Life, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication date: June 7th 2016
Source: ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada (thank you!)
From the author of Maybe in Another Life—named a People Magazine pick and a "Best Book of the Summer" by Glamour and USA TODAY—comes a breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.
In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.
On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.
Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.
That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.
Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?
Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.
Holy moly. ONE TRUE LOVES by Taylor Jenkins Reid answers one of my biggest questions – and I think a lot of people’s questions – about whether you can have more than one “love of your life.” I’ve always wondered what would happen and how I would feel if something like this happened to me. Even now, I can’t even fathom it, but I feel like Taylor Jenkins Reid, with her brilliant, sensitive, emotional writing, has given me a glimpse into a little bit of how I would feel.
I’m not even going to try to summarize this, because the synopsis above does it perfectly. I will say that even just reading the summary, I had no idea who Emma would choose and what I would feel. I expected a roller-coaster of emotions. I expected to feel like I was torn between choices like Emma. But I didn’t expect to understand so completely what Emma was going through. TJR has an amazing ability to put into words exactly what you believe – so deep in your heart – that you don’t know you had that thought until it’s put into words.
This is particularly true in one section of the book, which is written entirely in second person. Yes, you heard that right – there’s an entire section that talks to “you.” It’s a narrative device that I’ve only seen used sparingly, and only with great reason – because it can seem grating and condescending. I don’t want to spoil it, but I will say that TJR is NEVER condescending and I think it worked incredibly well, and heightened the impact of the story.
The rest of the book is split into phases of Emma’s life – the befores and afters of when she gets together with Jesse, when Jesse is declared dead, when she gets together with Sam, when Jesse comes back. It was an interesting structure that deliberately went against the messiness of the relationships. I’m not sure it fully worked for me, because it made it all feel like it was in hindsight…but I’m not sure it didn’t work either.
Speaking of the messiness…this book is wrenching to get through. There are so many moments of tension and pain and heartache. And yet, I don’t feel like I was AS invested in the characters as I was in After I Do or Maybe in Another Life. Somehow, even though I felt for Emma and Jesse and Sam, I didn’t love them as much. I think that structure made some of the “getting-to-know-you” part a bit faster than I would have liked, and because of that, the characters didn’t feel as well developed as in TJR’s other books.
That said, I came out of this book feeling like I had a better grasp on what I might do in the same situation and all of the things I might have to consider. Like with all of TJR’s books, I felt and I learned. And I’m not sure there’s anything more important than that.
Family Matters: As always, TJR paints really authentic relationships between family and friends. I think this is actually the least support-system oriented book I’ve read from her, mostly because Emma’s family is one that doesn’t start out that close…but for me, that was more realistic than in some of her other books. I really enjoyed how Emma got closer to them as the book went on.
Quotable Moments: Like all of TJR’s books, there are some really wise moments and lovely writing that I highlighted the crap out of. Here are a few (from the advanced copy, so please don’t blame me if they end up changing!):
“I had predicated my life on the idea that I wanted to see everywhere extraordinary but I’d come to realize that extraordinary was everywhere.”
“But then you feel yourself growing stronger in that bed, as if you’re squeezing the tears out of yourself, wringing yourself dry of pain. You imagine yourself bleeding grief, as if the water from your eyes is the pain itself.”
“Good things don’t wait until you’re ready. Sometimes they come right before, when you’re almost there. And I figured when that happens, you can let them pass by like a bus not meant for you. Or you can get ready.”
Book Theme Song:
I’m not even going to explain this one. Just listen and enjoy.
In my life I never thought I’d get a second chance
I thought I was done – then I met you
And though I never dreamed I could learn how to love again
I placed my bet
And you came through
I somehow still lost
I somehow always do
This time feels new
Thank you for finding me
And thank you for the care
And f*ck you for making me think that this life might be fair
You promised to love me,
a promise you kept
And I won’t be sorry that you said to leap and I leaped
I won’t regret
What I did then
Though it hurts more than I could imagine back when
All the same, even so
I would love you all over again
Am I always
In a brand new story
Am I always
Back at one
After all I’ve done?
‘Cause I’ve burned all of my bridges
And learned every last lesson too
So how can I start new?
The Final Word:
Can I tell you how deeply grateful I am for ONE TRUE LOVES and for many of TJR’s books? With every one, I feel like she’s exploring another facet of relationships – romantics, family, friends, and otherwise – that I’ve always questioned and never had answers to. And while she never purports to have all the answers, her books always make an incredible – and wise – case for the conclusions her characters come to. And the journey that they go on along the way. Highly recommended for people who like emotional reads and books that have a lot to teach you.
ONE TRUE LOVES comes out on tomorrow, Tuesday, June 7th. Will you be reading it? Have you read any other Taylor Jenkins Reid or other very emotional, very wise adult books? Let me know in the comments!