After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Adult Contemporary Romance/Chick Lit
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.
I sat on this book for months. I purchased it right when it came out, but I just couldn't bring myself to read it. You see, I went through a divorce this year and I just wasn't sure I couldn't handle bringing up the hurt again. Things are better now. I am better. So, about a month ago I pulled the book out. When I tell you that I devoured this book, I mean I literally couldn't put it down and read it within a few hours. It's rare for me to find reads like this anymore. Don't get me wrong, there are some fantastic books out there, but this one just hit me on such a personal level. Plus, the writing was amazing. I felt like I was talking to a girlfriend throughout the whole book.
I really don't want to recap the story, but I will tell you that what Lauren and Ryan go through was so very real. It's so easy to become disconnected and complacent in a marriage. To me, that's what happened to Ryan and Lauren. They became so wrapped up their every day lives that they truly forgot about honoring each other and their marriage. It was sad to read about how things began to crumble, but again, so real. They didn't have problems that happened over night. It was a series of miscommunication, lack of interest in each other, and they simply forgot all the reasons they fell in love in the first place. I think when life sets in and the rose colored glasses come off, it's hard to keep a marriage, or any relationship alive. You have to deal with the pesty little things like hygiene habits, laziness, snoring, farting, and other unpleasantries. The little things continued to build for Lauren and then it become a bigger issue.
Even though it was hard to read at times, seeing this couple go through something so challenging was really rewarding for me in the end. I won't tell you if they make it or not as a couple, but I will tell you that they learned so much about themselves throughout their separation. Another thing that hit me hard while reading this one is, that the couples who can make it through hard times, may not always be "in love". Sure, they love each other, but I think in long term relationships/marriages, there are times that you aren't necessarily in love with your partner. It's finding ways to fall in love again that helps to make it last.
Overall, I can say without a doubt that this is one of my best books of the year. Yes, it reached me personally, but I also felt that there were some really great messages throughout the book for everyone. It truly has something for every reader; self discovery, heart ache, falling in love, and family complexities. Seriously...read this book!
Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author and essayist from Acton, Massachusetts. Her first novel, Forever, Interrupted, was named one of the "11 Debuts We Love" by Kirkus Reviews. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alex, and their dog, Rabbit. You can follow her on Twitter @tjenkinsreid.