By Taylor Jenkins Reid
Available now from Washington Square Press (Simon & Schuster)
Read my review of Forever, Interrupted
In AFTER I DO, the love has gone out of Lauren and Ryan's marriage. They decide that Ryan will move out for a year, leaving Lauren with the house and the dog. They'll meet in six months to trade the dog, and then meet in another six months to decide what to do next. No other contact.
It's a strange solution, but as everyone in the book points out, it is telling that neither Lauren nor Ryan wants a divorce. The year apart is to give them room to breathe, room to rediscover what they want from life, whether they still want each other. It is a bit of a strange premise, but Taylor Jenkins Reid makes it work. Lauren's ups and downs through the year are compelling.
There is the loneliness, coming home to no one but the dog. There's the difficulty of confessing her troubles to her family, just as her mother and brother are having new success in their own relationships. There's meeting new people. There's meeting new men, and deciding whether to date (as they both agreed to be non-exclusive during the year).
The difficulties in the marriage seemed real. AFTER I DO is in Lauren's POV, but it doesn't let her off the hook. She's just as responsible as her husband for their failures in communication and microaggressions toward each other. She isn't a saint in the year off, either. But it's still easy to root for her to heal from their nasty final fight, and to find out who she is on her own. (They married young.)
AFTER I DO is less wrenching that Jenkins' debut novel FOREVER, INTERRUPTED. But it is an equally compelling look at a young woman who suddenly finds herself alone. The ending is a touch contrived, but heartfelt. This is definitely a wonderful, emotional read to pick up during the summer doldrums.