As I struggle to put my emotions into words, to do justice to all that this remarkable story has meant to me, I will tell you that I purposely dove into this book with no prior knowledge of its storyline, or its characters, as I wished my first experience of this author’s writing to be an entirely instinctive and unbiased one, and I found my mind absolutely blown away to pieces by every single word of this extraordinary tale. With confident, intelligent, highly refined prose that never stops morphing as the story changes, adjusting its tempo and style to the storyline itself, Taylor Jenkins Reid leaves us breathless with the tale of a woman whose life forces her to learn the meaning of loving truly, no matter how many times it comes her way. I cannot stop thinking about this story, these characters, the situations they found themselves in, and I am recommending this book to every fellow reader. With all my heart. Unreservedly.
“Emma, it’s me. I’m alive. I’m coming home.”
Emma Blair fell in love with Jesse Lerner when she was only seventeen years old, their young romance blossoming quickly and, for the next decade, shaping them in every way possible. Driven by their shared passion for travel, they build their life together into a spontaneous adventure that takes them to all four corners of the globe, never truly settling down anywhere and grabbing on to every opportunity to see the world that comes their way.
“I have something really important to tell you. Are you ready? It’s really important. It’s breaking news.”
“I’ll love you forever.”
Ten years after they first met and on the eve of their first wedding anniversary, Jesse’s latest adventure ends in tragedy as his helicopter crashes, leaving Emma a young widow. Heartbroken and inconsolable, her whole life changes in the blink of an eye, putting a new perspective on all she once thought she wanted out of life, and taking her back to the very place she once dreamed only of leaving: her childhood home.
“Do you ever just want to go home?”
“We are home.”
“No, home home. To Acton home.”
“You must be an impostor. Because the real Emma would never say that.”
As she slowly begins to put her life back together, an old friend suddenly walks back into her life and sparks new hope into a heart that has not healed fully just yet. But Sam Kemper has loved Emma since he was seventeen years old, and having missed his chance with her once, he is determined to win her heart this time around.
“Think of all the people in the world. And I was lucky enough to find you twice.”
Emma’s heart, however, has always loved Sam in some small way, and their friendship soon transforms into something more, into something beautiful and true that Emma never expected to find again. As she falls for Sam, she never hides from her memories of Jesse or how much she loves him still, but she makes a conscious effort to allow her heart to love another man too, a man who makes her happy and who is not threatened by her past.
“I want you to know that I’ll never ask you to choose. I’ll never ask you to tell me I’m your one true love.”
And then, three and a half years after going missing, her husband suddenly returns.
There is so much that can be said of a scenario that puts a person in an impossible situation of having to choose between two equally desirable options, but, at its core, this is not a story about that choice. Told entirely from the heroine’s point of view, never of the two male leads, this is not a story about a woman loving two men and having to choose which man she loves more, or which one is more deserving of her love. This is the story of a young woman’s evolution through her own life, of the way life changes her and forces her to keep finding herself over and over again, as she ultimately learns what constitutes true happiness in life. I found myself connecting vehemently with the idea of ‘true love’ being something a person can find more than once in the course of a lifetime, of that love being a reflection of who we are now, not yesterday or possibly one day, and I admired greatly the intelligence and sensitivity with which the author managed to get that notion across.
A truly mind-blowing portrayal of one woman’s journey through her own young life, through both joy and great sorrow, and the many lessons her heart learns along the way. I would urge every woman to give this great book a chance.
I don’t think that true love means your only love. I think true love means loving truly. Loving purely. Loving wholly.