After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
ISBN: 9781476712840 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780385534857 (ebook)
ASIN: B00GEEB8UC (Kindle edition)
Publication date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Washington Square Press
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.
Lauren and Ryan met in college and fell in love. After graduation they moved in together and eventually got married. They’ve been together eleven years. They were blissfully happy for years but they’ve grown apart. After one argument too many, they make the decision to separate for one year and then re-evaluate their relationship. Can they survive being apart? Can their marriage survive the time apart? How do you know what you want when you no longer know who you are without the other person? These are just a few of the questions Mr. Reid attempts to answer in her novel After I Do.
Being in a relationship is hard work. Being in a marriage is hard work. Being true to yourself is even harder. Lauren and Ryan assume that they are no longer in love with one another because of their constant anger toward one another. What do you do when you can’t love the person you’re with? For Lauren and Ryan the answer is to separate. After I Do provides a fascinating glimpse into this separation from Lauren’s perspective and through her interactions with friends and family. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) her family loves Ryan just as much as they love her and can’t quite grasp why they’ve separated. Lauren receives advice from her maternal grandmother Lois, her sister Rachel, her brother Charlie, her mother Lesley, and her co-worker Mila. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on what works and what won’t. Over the course of this year Lauren learns quite a bit about herself and life, including the following: it is acceptable to be alone, separating from her husband and even getting a divorce (if it goes that far) doesn’t mean she’s a failure, it’s okay to not like something the other person likes, compromise is necessary in all relationships, and most important — life goes on.
There aren’t any good guys or bad guys in After I Do. Ms. Reid has portrayed a young couple in turmoil and their struggle to survive. The relationships portrayed, from single-mother Lesley to widowed grandmother Lois, are all quite realistic. Lesley and Lois are from different generations and their perspectives on life are viewed through the lenses of their experiences and upbringing. I liked the notion that even when the family didn’t necessarily agree with Lauren they continued to support her wholeheartedly. Although the majority of the story is committed to the idea of marriage and what happens after the vows are exchanged, I enjoyed reading about Lauren’s interactions with her brother and sister just as much as I enjoyed the dilemma she faced with Ryan. I found After I Do to be a fast-paced read that isn’t so much a happy-ever-after but a hopeful-ever-after. If you enjoy realistic, contemporary stories about relationships and self-discovery then grab a copy of After I Do as soon as possible. Be forewarned, this is a story that will make you smile, laugh, and even cry.
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