After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

lissyreads book review

Title: After I Do
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.

Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for?

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Taylor Jenkins Reid has this uncanny ability to take seemingly cheesy and romantic stories and make them profound and full of life lessons. After I Do tells the story of Lauren and Ryan, college sweethearts that find themselves in a rut after eleven years together. After meeting in college, moving in together after graduation, and eventually getting married, the two find themselves out of love. And they’re scared.

Without knowing what else to do, the two decide to take a year long break, to see other people, and reassess once they’ve spent some time a part. The goal is to stay married, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy…

Ryan and I are two people who used to be in love. What a beautiful thing to have been. What a sad thing to be.

The story is told through the eyes of Lauren, and her voice is fresh and just sarcastic enough to allow me to laugh my way through a story that’s very painful. With the help of her sister, Rachel, her brother, Charlie, her mother, and her best friend, Lauren embarks on a year long adventure to find herself and to hopefully find her love for her husband.

I’m in utter awe over this book. I just spent the last two or so hours gripping a pillow because I had no idea how this story would end. And yet I’m so satisfied that it ended the way that it did. This is the kind of writing I aspire to.

I loved the relationship that Lauren had with her family. They’re close enough to boss each other around, over directions of all things. The language between them is super authentic and reminded me of my own family. I got to enjoy Ryan and Lauren in little spurts, memories Lauren had before and after their split. He’s charming, she’s lovely, and they felt like a couple I wanted to root for. I did root for.

We are tied to each other. We can hate and love, miss and loathe each other all within the same breath. We can never want to see each other again while never wanting to let go.

I think my favorite parts were the email drafts. People are never more honest than when they think someone else isn’t looking. Reading Ryan’s emails to Lauren, no matter how brutally honest, felt like a true window into marriage. I really feel like I learned right along side Lauren.

I definitely pontificated, as Lauren would say, the idea of marriage and what it should look like. I looked at how Ryan and Lauren handled things and thought about what I would do differently in their shoes. I wasn’t just reading. I was analyzing, sympathizing, rooting for the underdog. I wanted so badly for the two of them to make it back to each other in the end.

This ebook is available on Amazon for $1.99, and you can get the audiobook accompaniment for an extra $2.99 like I did. I highly recommend the audiobook as well. Tara Sands kept me well engaged and I enjoyed hearing her do all the different voices.

In the end, I’m leaving this book feeling hopeful, as I did Taylor Jenkins Reid’s first book. I’m beginning to sense a theme here. I like that I can put her books down and know there are infinite possibilities for life. I like knowing that we can do whatever we set our mind to. And even if it doesn’t work out exactly right, the sun will still rise.

The sun rises the next day after mothers lose their babies, after men lose their wives, after countries lose wars. The sun will rise no matter what pain we encounter. No matter how much we believe the world to be over, the sun will rise. So you can’t go around assessing love by whether or not the sun rises. The sun doesn’t care about love. It just cares about rising.

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