Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: July 9, 2013
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Target audience: adult
Keywords: short marriage, unexpected tragedies, dealing with grief
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss. (Thanks!)
Summary: Ben and Elsie know each other for around six months before they decide to elope in Vegas. A few days later, Ben is accidentally killed on his bike and now Elsie must come to terms with her short marriage, a mother-in-law she is just meeting, and wondering why her damn marriage certificate has not come in the mail yet.
It’s tricky when a main character like Ben dies so early in a book. Sure, we get to see a sweet, genuine moment before tragedy strikes but as a reader, you don’t know him well. You are not emotionally attached. You are sad because death is a sad thing. You are sad because the main character is understandably having trouble coping.
So I was a little scared going into Forever, Interrupted. Logically, I totally understood Elsie’s emotions but would I feel this devastating blow alongside her? Would I know why losing Ben so suddenly left such a hole in her life? Would I get just why he of all people was the love of her life?
Well, the answer to all of those questions is a big, heartbreaking: YES.
By weaving the story of how the two met within the aftermath of Elsie’s post-Ben life, this blurry image we have of Ben in the beginning truly sharpens and we just get it. By sharing in the joy of their whirlwind romance and also the darker days Elsie is facing, the emotional rollercoaster is that much more effective from all these contrasting feelings.
So this is the thing about Ben. Don’t expect some watered down story that is going to make him look like a saint. (Even though he loves loves young adult novels.) The kid eloped with Elsie before telling his mom he was even in a serious relationship. Needless to say Susan can’t believe she has a daughter-in-law and much transition needs to occur before both women can come to terms with Ben’s death and this family situation they are kind of stuck in. Reid presents a very rare dynamic by exploring Susan and Elsie’s relationship. How do you rationalize the decisions of deceased? Did Susan and Elsie have any obligation to be a part of each other’s lives? And where is that pesky marriage certificate?
The farther I got into Forever, Interrupted the more I felt connected to all of these characters and wanted so much for them to overcome this tragedy as unfathomable as it all sounds. Reid also makes sure the outside world keeps knocking on Elsie’s mourning time as her best friend falls in love with the most unlikely guy and the cute little old man from the library generously extends his friendship. (The supporting characters are fantastic.)
Life goes on. It’s easier said then done. Especially when we end up in a role, a place that we never imagined. I was so touched by Elsie’s story and her spirit (even if she didn’t always believe in her own strength), and, of course, the romance between her and Ben. Even though though I knew how it would all end, I’m still grateful I could watch how everything played out. Reid’s writing feels organic, is full of detail and real emotion, depicting the super highs and lowest lows of love and life.
I know, I know, this is a sad story but I promise you, it’s worth the read. And underneath it all, there’s a lot of hope.