“I think it’s a good sign, though,” he said, “that I was crazy about you at sixteen and I’m still crazy about you now.”
This was one of those books that I knew I had to read from the moment I heard about it. Having already been a huge fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books, I knew it would be well-written and I was so excited to see where she’d take this story. I’ll show you the blurb first so you can understand why I was so intrigued…
From the author of Maybe in Another Life 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?
Usually I like to find out everything I can about a book before reading it. I’m not a fan of love triangles (it’s very rare for them to be written in a way that I’m okay with) but this particular story intrigued me because it’s not a traditional triangle at all. Emma doesn’t fall in love with two guys at once. She falls in love with them at different times in her life, with absolutely no imaginable possibility that they’d ever cross paths. Except everything changed when the impossible happened… and the husband who she thought had died returned home. And now she was faced with the insurmountably hard choice of going back to the man she’d loved and lost, or staying with the man she’d fallen in love with after. Who was her one true love?
He smiled. “Think of all the people in the world,” he said, tucking my longest hair behind my ear. “And I was lucky enough to find you twice.”
Now, this whole book is very well-written. I have tons of quote highlighted everywhere throughout the book. But I wanted to bring special attention to how seriously fantastic a job this author did of specifically describing the way that Emma healed after Jesse’s disappearance. You’ll see exactly what I mean when you read it. But there’s this “section” of the book where the whole writing style changes and it. is. perfect. It had this rhythm and momentum to it that so flawlessly yet powerfully conveyed exactly what Emma was going through. The best way I can describe it is by calling it a ‘montage with words’ — you know like how they’ll do in movies or trailers where they show all these clips together with music — and when I got to the last line of it, that was the moment that I shed my first tear. It was beautiful writing. Just beautiful.
Like I was mentioning before, I normally want to know certain things in advance of reading. Like the main question here: who does she end up with?! But this time… I didn’t. Instead I did something that I almost never do and I just trusted the author and went in blind. And I strongly suggest that you do the same. I’m not going to give you any hints about the ending here and I caution you against finding out any spoilers. Here’s what I’ll tell you… It had exactly the ending I wanted! But that’s it. Now just trust… and dive in!
“I don’t expect you to stop loving him, just because you love me.”
The whole situation in this book was just so unprecedented — both of this woman’s past and present loves somehow in her life at the same time even though one of them had supposedly died. If Jesse had never disappeared, she would never have had the opportunity to fall in love with Sam. But if Jesse had actually died, she would have certainly loved Sam for the rest of her life. Both were good men. Neither one is ever made out to be a ‘bad guy’ (a decision for which I applaud the author because it made the story seem much more real when there was no ‘easy’ solution). At different times in her life and under different circumstances, she’d fallen in love with both of them. She loved them both. How could anyone choose?!
“I love you.”
“I know you do,” he says. “But I’m not the only one you love. And you can only have one. And it might not be me.”
I’m so interested to see what you guys think about this story. Personally, I was torn at first about who I wanted her to end up with. After reading the blurb, I formed one opinion. That was the one I went into the book with. I wanted her to end up ***** for sure!! But then the more I read, the less sure of my choice I became. By page 100, I actually formed my final choice. I wanted her to end up with ***** without a doubt in my mind. And I stayed with that decision right up until the end. And guess what?? She chose him!!!!! Oh, the relief!
“I have something really important to tell you,” he said. “Are you ready? It’s really important. It’s breaking news.”
“I’ll love you forever.”
“I already knew that,” I said. “And I’ll love you forever, too.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I’ll love you until we’re so old we can barely walk on our own and we’ll have to get walkers and put those cut up yellow tennis balls on them. I’ll love you past that, actually. I’ll love you until the end of time.”
The message at the end was really beautiful. If I tell you what it is, that’ll kind of give things away so I’ll just let you discover it on your own. But the last few lines of the book brought happy tears to my eyes.
This is one of those stories that’ll tear your heart in two directions as you read and make you really think about how you want the story to end. It’s a bittersweet and yet deeply heart-warming romance that takes a really intriguing look at the concept of love. Can a person have more than one true love?
It has always been him.
My whole life.
It has always, always been him.
Rating: 4.5 stars. Standalone.