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Estelle: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins ReidAfter I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid web | tweet )
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Pages: 352
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: marriage, family, independence
Format read: Finished copy from publisher. (Thank you!)
Also reviewed: Forever Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Summary: After six years of marriage, Ryan and Lauren decide to take a major break when neither are happy anymore. For an entire year, they will live their lives independent of one another — with absolutely not contact. Told from Lauren’s POV, she struggles with this joint decision. How will time apart ensure a happy marriage in the future? She has no idea.

When we first meet Lauren and Ryan, they are fighting over something silly: where they parked their car at a baseball game. For some, this is an annoyance that is easy to shake off but for these two, it was only part of something bigger. I think it’s impossible to be married to someone so long, friends with someone so long, RELATED to someone so long that the little things don’t get to you and you find yourself arguing over the mundane or taking something a little too personally. It’s too easy to take the people we know will always be there for granted. Sure, we can treat them like a mini-punching bag sometimes because they are never going to leave us. But what happens when that behavior is circling all the time and you are only happy when you are sleeping or find a moment to yourself?

I thought it was brave when Lauren and Ryan decided to take a sabbatical from one another. An unconventional way to “fix” things for sure but a decision they were able to come to together. Live apart for a year, cut off contact completely and see where they are after it’s all finished. For some reason I thought Lauren would do something drastic like go on a wild trip and take time off from her job but she surprised me because she stayed put. She went to work at the alumni department of a college, had lunch with her best friend (Mila),  hung out with her sister (Rachel), and enjoyed time alone with her dog. After going through the motions of a life void of Ryan for awhile, she did start living… but in a very normal kind of way.

This is what I’ve come to expect from Reid and I love it. The actions of her characters (even when they are shitty) are as realistic as they come. Lauren seesaws with her feelings about Ryan, about marriage, and what love really means. For this one year, she goes back to her roots and finds the Lauren she might have lost along the way. She spends time with her amazingly hilarious and diverse family — dramatic but well-meaning grandma, a single mom, her sister who doesn’t feel the need to get married, and a younger brother who is always surprising her. It also goes to show how much one person’s marriage affects a group of people. Everyone in Lauren’s family was mourning the loss of Ryan in their own way, but it never affected their support of her. Reid was so great at sharing the funny, quirky side of this family (+ her friends); their involvement added the perfect balance to what could have been a super depressing book.

As much as I love TV spoilers, I never feel that urge to skip to the end of a book. It’s all about the journey, right? But Reid tempted me. I needed to know that Lauren and Ryan’s year apart would bring them closer together in the end. I needed that happily ever after (or whatever)! But I didn’t succumb to the temptation. (I’m actually pretty proud of myself.) Again, Reid has a way of writing about regular folk that makes me never want to let her characters go. I laughed, I cried, and, since I’ve finished, felt the need to recommend it to just about everyone I know. Reid creates characters who are relatable, complicated, and oh-so memorable.

Happiness doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, and I think Reid conquers the messy, thoughtful path that gets us to that realization so genuinely.

I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

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July 19, 2015 - 3:49 am

"Our Love Belongs To Everyone Who Loves Us" Review: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid - Mostly YA Lit - […] on my radar at all until Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner) mentioned it, then I read reviews from Estelle (Rather Be Reading), Alexa (Alexa Loves Books), and Hannah (So Obsessed With) and knew that I […]

February 26, 2015 - 12:06 am

Rather Be Revealing | Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Estelle - […] Eve, I climbed on a very tall ladder, in a very warm Manhattan bookstore to grab a copy of AFTER I DO for a dear friend who needed a purple book and who I thought needed to hear this heartbreakingly […]

January 4, 2015 - 9:01 am

A Tribute to 2014: End of Year Survey | Estelle - […] After I Do by Taylor Reid Jenkins […]

August 25, 2014 - 9:43 pm

Calla - I also really loved Lauren’s family, especially Rachel, and how we get to know each and every one of them. I love what you said about seeing how one marriage impacts an entire family. I hear you about wanting to know whether they’ll be able to work it out or not – at points I thought it would be impossible and then something happened and I’d have a different opinion – it really kept me on my toes!

August 12, 2014 - 12:52 pm

Cassie - I FINISHED THIS SUNDAY. I just can’t even with how amazing it is. It sent me through an emotional roller coaster and I was in pieces [happy pieces!] at the end. Taylor has solidified herself on my auto buy list! NOW.. to wait for the next book she writes will be EXCRUCIATING! THANKS TO U AND HANNAH FOR MAKING ME PUSH THIS UP ON MY LIST!

July 28, 2014 - 11:25 am

Tiff @ Mostly YA Lit - Jamie wrote about this on her blog, and I had to skip over to your review to read about it. It was the title that got me – my husband and I have been married for a year and it’s been really hard, so I think I might NEED this book right now. You sold me when you said that Lauren stayed put and just started reconnecting with herself…and with your reference to Jessica Darling =)

Putting this on hold at the library now. Thanks!

July 27, 2014 - 9:01 am

Shelve It: New Books / New Books / Giveaway - […] want you to consider buying AFTER I DO (contemporary fiction) + BLAZED (dark contemporary […]

July 21, 2014 - 9:26 pm

Alexa S. - Gosh, but AFTER I DO was amazing! It was my first experience with Reid’s writing, and I’m happy to say that I fell head over heels in love with it. I really liked how she tackled Ryan and Lauren’s situation, and how she managed to colonize Lauren’s life with such great supporting characters. SO GOOD.

July 21, 2014 - 9:51 am

Meg - I’ve seen this one around, but yours is the first review that’s actually tempted me to give it a try. I guess being so newly into my own marriage, I haven’t been eager to read about the troubles of another, haha, but Reid sounds like a great writer!

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