First published in 2016
My rating: 4 out of 5
The Short Of It:
After the slight flop of "The One & Only," Emily Giffin is back in top form as a premiere writer of women's fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
The Long Of It:
Emily Giffin is a master at writing addicting, heartfelt, relatable stories with characters who are far from perfect but ultimately likable and easy to root for. It's hard not to see a little of myself in every Emily Giffin protagonist.
Her latest novel is a tale of two sisters, Josie and Meredith, whose already complicated relationship was strained even further after a terrible tragedy -- the death of their beloved older brother -- rocked their family when they were teenagers. Now they're all grown up -- and they could hardly be more different.
Josie is a first-grade teacher, a free-spirit and a lover of good times who can sometimes come off as selfish. Thirty-eight and husbandless, what she wants most in the world is a baby. Meanwhile Meredith is a type-A lawyer with a wonderful husband and an adorable 4-year-old daughter. But her seemingly perfect life is fraught with unhappiness: her marriage is on the rocks, she sometimes gets frustrated with motherhood, her job is ridiculously demanding. Neither feels fulfilled and each secretly envies aspects of her sister's life, though they would never admit as much. With the 15-year anniversary of their brother's death -- which has so greatly affected both their lives -- looming, their tenuous relationship seems to be barreling toward a make-or-break point.
As usual, Giffin tackles with ease the topics that are relevant to her readers: things like marriage, motherhood, adult friendships, dating, work, family -- and the joys and difficulties that come with each. So much about this novel works. Giffin's writing is easy to read and it just flows -- this was one of those books that had me constantly saying, "Just one more chapter!" And I loved that the chapters alternated between Josie's and Meredith's narration, often mentioning the same event in each, which made me think about how easily miscommunication and misunderstandings happen, and how differently two people can view the same situation. You'll be cheering for both Josie and Meredith to discover what's missing from their lives, to make up, to really see each other, to overcome the issues they've been carrying for 15 years, to be happy.
If you haven't read Emily Giffin before, this is a good book to start with. I hope you'll fall in love with her realistic characters and her insightful writing just as I have.