“This is it. This is my new life. Alone. Quiet. Still. This isn’t how it was supposed to go. Ben and I had mapped out our lives together. We had a plan. This wasn’t the plan.”
Woah, this book really just hits you right in the feels. My heart feels like it’s just been run over. Truthfully, I’ve had this book sitting on Kindle for over a year while I worked up the courage to read it. But recently I read another (unrelated) book by this author Maybe In Another Life and really fell in love with her writing style so I decided to make this my next “emotional” read. As it turned out, earlier today I was in the mood for reading something with ‘deep feels’ so I started reading this and was crying within the first few pages. Emotionally, I was right there with the heroine. The writing gives you this play-by-play of her thoughts and feelings and I connected. It was almost too painfully believable because I was feeling for her so strongly. Absolutely heart-wrenching, but incredibly well written. I really loved this book. If you’re ever in the mood for an unconventional love story and a really emotional read, definitely give this a try.
I’m going to share the blurb with you because I actually feel its a beautiful and very accurate depiction of the story. God, even reading the blurb makes my heart hurt. But this is exactly what this book is about:
I know that many of you are going to read that blurb and either think that maybe this book is too sad, too emotional, too much for you. But I wanted to try and give you my thoughts and experience reading it so that maybe it’ll make it a little less scary.
First thing — I cried three times. Once right in the beginning when Ben died, and twice later on at poignant moments of healing. But this isn’t a book that I sobbed my way through. Even though the actual subject matter of losing a spouse is deeply painful, the focus of this book is on Elsie’s healing.
I’ve been asked several times if this book has a happy ending… well, I feel like it had the happiest possible ending given the situation. Ben is really dead and that doesn’t change. Elsie will never stop loving him and he will always remain in her heart. This is not a story of “love after loss”, meaning that we do not see Elsie move on and fall in love with anyone else within this book. But over the course of the story, she does reach a point where she can healthily keep living on. You’re left in a hopeful place.
I’ve also been asked if this is a romance… and I’d say it’s more of a story of healing that has a love story within in, but it is not a romance (in the genre sense of the word). Romances almost always have happy endings, and we all know from the blurb that this book doesn’t end with Ben and Elsie living out their lives together happily. Ben dies in the first few pages, but it still is a love story… and a very beautiful one at that. To quote Ben’s mother, “In that short time, you had more passion than some people have in a lifetime.”
This book goes back and forth between the present day with Elsie living with the aftermath of Ben’s death and forming an unlikely, but ultimately healing relationship with his mother… and the past in which we see the development of Elsie and Ben’s relationship from the day they met until their last day together.
It’s a really powerful read. I really felt for this heroine. It’s an emotional read, and it is sad at times, but at the same time, I wouldn’t necessarily consider it a completely “sad read” because half of the book revolves around them falling in love and those parts are really sweet and happy and romantic. But overall, there’s no denying that this book deals with one of the most heart-wrenching situations imaginable.
My eyes are parched from crying, my limbs weak… I shuffle over to Ben’s side of the bed as I get groggy and fall asleep. “I love you,” I say, and for the first time, there’s no one to hear it.
There are very few books though that have ever made me cry when I was writing my review, but this is now apparently one of them. I was just now listening to music as I was writing and looking through quotes from the book to use, and I read this one (below) and teared right up…
“I wanted you to have his wallet and this.”
She pulls his wedding ring out of her purse.
I was wrong.
I do have triggers.
I start crying. I put that wedding ring on him myself, my hand shaking while his was steady as a rock. I remember seeing it on him the next day thinking that I never knew how sexy a wedding was on a man until it was my ring, until I put it there.
“I loved him, Susan,” I say… “I loved him so much.”
“I know you did,” she says. “He kept a copy of his proposal in his wallet. Did you know that?”
I perk up. She hands the paper to me, and I read it.
“Elsie, let’s spend our lives together. Let’s have children together and buy a house together. I want you there when I get the promotion I’ve been shooting for, when I get turned down for something I’ve always hoped for, when I fall and when I stand back up. I want to see every day of your life unfold. I want to be yours and to have you as my own. Will you marry me? Marry me.”
The feels!!! *sniff*
In all honesty, I can only handle reading stories like this at very specific times. I usually end up “sitting” on them for months (or years) after I hear about them while I mentally work up the courage to read them. And then I wait for just the right mood to hit me before I start reading. But ultimately, they often end up as favorites because of the intensity of the emotions. This book is definitely going on my favorites list.
This author writes very beautifully and her stories give a very honest depiction of what her characters go through. Each of her books are standalones (not related to each other at all). I’ve read two of them and loved them both, and I have one more left that I’m definitely looking forward to reading as well.
Oooooh, and this book has a movie deal!! Dakota Johnson will be starring as Elsie. Right now, there isn’t too much more info on it, but I’ll keep everyone posted as soon as we hear more about it!
Rating: 4.5 stars. Standalone.
ALL BOOKS BY TAYLOR JENKINS REID
All standalones (not related to each other at all).