By Taylor Jenkins Reid
Available now from Washington Square Press (Simon & Schuster)
I do not like tearjerkers. I have no desire to cry when I'm reading. I don't need books to be relentlessly cheery, but I'm just not looking to be depressed. But something drew me to FOREVER, INTERRUPTED despite the obviously sad premise, about a woman recovering after her recent husband's death. I think it was the hint of mystery, that her mother-in-law doesn't know she exists.
FOREVER, INTERRUPTED moves back in forth in time. There's the present timeline, about Elsie and her mother-in-law Susan. Then there's the past timeline, which shows Elsie and Ben's whirlwind romance. The past timeline didn't work as well for me. It just goes so perfectly. It adds a bit more pathos to the present, as it allows the reader to know Ben, but nothing that couldn't be folded into the story elsewhere. It just didn't feel real. Elsie and Ben argue approximately once, a fight toward the end of their relationship that appears to last for less than an hour. We know they'll end up together, but the stakes don't have to be that low.
That brings us to the present timeline. Now, obviously things happened quickly in the past. Elsie and Ben know each other for about six months total and are married for nine days. Still, that enough time to mention your significant other to your not-estranged mother. I did enjoy seeing the path of how that oddity came to be unfold. I also liked the questions Taylor Jenkins Reid brought up about marriage and grief. Is Elsie's pain less real, less valid since she knew Ben such a short time? Is she less a widow because she was only married nine days? Since she's so young and the relationship was so short, when should people expect her to start dating again? As the also widowed Susan points out, she's lucky as an older woman that people are more likely to understand if she chooses to spend the rest of her life alone.
Susan and Elsie's relationship contains the rocky reality that's missing from Ben and Elsie's. They really batter and bruise each other at first, but for totally understandable reasons. But they manage to reach out and overcome that terrible first impression. It was nice to see their familial relationship blossom. I also liked Elsie's relationship with her best friend Anna, who she leans on during her initial time of grief. It was interesting to see Elsie be aware that she was taking advantage, but not being able to stop herself.
FOREVER, INTERRUPTED was weepier than I like. At the same time, it was an intriguing character-driven story grounded in deep emotion. I wish the past parts weren't so sugary sweet; they still could've provided contrast with a bit of bitter. But I think Reid has made a nice debut and I'll look forward to her next novel.