One True Loves has been getting some serious love these past few months and I knew it was a book I wanted to read. I almost didn't even bother having us vote last month and was just going to decide for us, but voting is still fun, and I was pretty confident that One True Loves would win. And win it did - by a landslide! It's also nice to be on top of reading a book that has just recently come out since I'm almost always several months and years behind the hype.
Anyway, just a few reminders here before we get into the book...if this is your first time here, this is your warning that this post will have spoilers (what would a book club discussion be otherwise?!) At the end of the post, I will have a few questions to get the discussion going which you can answer in the comments section if you like. And lastly, if you have a blog post about the book, you can link up at the end of this post!
Also - if you aren't here to discuss One True Loves, but would like to participate in the next book club, then be sure to jump to the end of this post to vote on the book you'd like to read for October! If you're new to A Slice of Brie Book Club, in a nutshell, it's an online book club for fellow book lovers. A place to talk about a chosen book from the comfort of your own home/computer! Everyone is welcome (so tell your friends!), and you definitely do not have to have a blog to participate. Every month, we vote on which book to read for the following month. The poll will stay open until Sunday night and I will announce the book next Tuesday. No commitment to join, but if you've ever wanted to join a book club, this is a great place to start!
OK, enough of that. On to One True Loves. You guys, I LOVED this book. Like, I want everyone I know to read it! I was hooked from page one and could have easily devoured it in one night, but I also wanted to savour every page so I forced myself to slow down a bit. And when I was done, I was overcome with a strong desire to start the book all over again, and that is something I RARELY feel. Quickly, this book is about Emma, a 31 year old woman who has just found love again after the death of her husband 3 years prior. Emma's first husband, Jesse, was the love of her life. They started dating in high school, traveled the world together, and got married one year before Jesse went missing after the helicopter he was traveling in went down. His body was never found. Emma, a complete mess after this, decides to move back home to her hometown, where her parents and sister live. As fate would have it, she ends up running into Sam, an old friend and co-worker from high school. Deciding that she needs to accept the death of Jesse and that she wants love to return to her life, she starts to date Sam. Then, a few months after Sam and Emma get engaged, Emma receives a phone call: it's Jesse and he's alive. Having survived the crash and life on a tiny island for the past 3 years, he's coming home.
I can't even think about this scenario without getting goosebumps. Can you even imagine being in such a situation? What I really liked about this book, was the development of both of the relationships that Emma is in. The first part of the book is all about Emma's and Jesse's relationship: how it started and their immense love for each other even as the years move on. There's no denying their love. And then the book moves into Emma's grief and healing before we move on to her and Sam's relationship. Sam is the polar opposite of Jesse, yet he's also perfect for Emma in his own right. Their love is also passionate, easy and natural.
At first, I was so torn between the two possible endings: should Emma go back to Jesse, or should she stay with Sam? As much as I loved Jesse and the love the two of them shared, my heart told me Sam was the right man for her to be with. What I loved so much about this book was how it addressed change, and how we aren't the same person we are at 20, 30 or even 40 years old, let alone the same person after a tragic event. Emma was this wild and carefree person in her 20s, but when she moves back home, she really does some soul-searching and figures out who she is in the right now. I related to that part so much - sure, traveling and living pay-check to pay-check and not having a secure future is fun when you're young, but now that I'm older, I know my wants and needs have changed, just like Emma's did. I want security, I want a family, I want stability. Emma's change wasn't drastic, but it felt natural. And I loved that she fell in love with reading (after hating it for most of her life) and genuinely wanted to run her parent's bookstore that they always wanted her to run.
The turmoil that Emma (and Sam and Jesse) went through once Jesse came back was so raw and executed so well. It's not a simple situation and I really liked how it wasn't about "choosing" Jesse over Sam, but about choosing who was right given who present day Emma was. Was Jesse still right for her, or was Sam? I knew in my heart it just had to be Sam. Three years is a long time to be apart, and Jesse's and Emma's time apart wasn't natural. Emma eventually had to choose to move on with her life, while Jesse didn't. His hope of being reunited with Emma was what kept him alive, and rightfully so. But that just means that when they were reunited, they weren't the same people at all.
I also really liked that this was the story of Emma - the person left behind when someone goes missing or dies in an accident. The focus wasn't on Jesse's story of survival (although we were given just enough of his story to feed that curiosity and answer any questions).
The ending was perfect in my opinion, and not just because Emma stayed with Sam. It was perfect because it was messy before it got better, and it just felt real. Feelings were going to have to be heart no matter which way you looked at it. There was going be a need for closure, for both Emma and Jesse. Sam was going to go through his own emotional rollercoaster and Emma had to understand the potential for her actions. While there was a moment where I was like, "if this was real life, I could see no one ending up with anyone", but I'm so glad that wasn't the ending for this book!
Oh man, I can't stop talking about this book! I'm sorry, if you've read this far, you deserve a cookie! But seriously, I loved this book and I really hope you all loved it too!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU (Feel free to discuss in the comments!):
1. Do you think Emma, believing that Jesse might not have been dead, should have waited longer for him to be found before moving on? No. I think two years was a long time and Emma needed to move on for her own sanity and good-will. She deserved to be happy again and find love, especially at such a young age. In reality, how long DO you wait?! I don't think there's a right answer, but I think Emma knew she was ready to stop waiting.
2. Do you think moving back home, running the family book store and putting her life of travel behind her, was the right thing for Emma to do? Did you feel it was a natural progression or an outcome only because of her grief? I do, I really do. Like I said above, we change as we age and we for sure change after a tragic accident. I don't think Emma was ever trying to be someone she wasn't (in fact, I would even argue that the young Emma was trying to be someone that maybe she wasn't). I think older and wiser Emma was just more comfortable in accepting what she wanted and who she wanted to be.
3. How did you feel about the weekend Emma spent with Jesse at his family's cabin in Maine? Do you think that level of intimacy was necessary in order for Emma to figure out what she wanted, even though it risked hurting and losing Sam? At first I was like, Noooo, you can't go and be alone and have sex and risk ruining everything with Sam. But, I knew it needed to be done. Emma needed to figure out who Jesse was/had become, she needed to figure out if they were still the same people as they were when they were still married and madly in love. It was closure that ultimately needed to occur in order for anyone to move on.
4. Who did you want Emma to choose: Jesse or Sam? Sam. Definitely Sam. I adored Jesse, but I knew he wasn't right for Emma anymore. He was changed, Emma was changed, and that tragic gap would be too much for them to overcome. And I just knew that Jesse wasn't happy with the new life Emma had built for herself (moving back home and running the bookstore) and I knew that it wasn't a life he would ultimately want for himself.
NEXT MONTH'S BOOK PICK
Here are the choices for October's book club. I decided to choose mystery/thrillers in the spirit of Halloween being next month. Local friends - I try to find books that don't have super long wait lists, but it was a difficult task this go around. Even if you aren't sure you can participate, vote anyway! You never know if you might get a chance to read it and participation can be anonymous if you like :) So vote for a book, and then next Tuesday I will announce the winner!
And now to vote!
Happy voting! Don't forget to link up your posts so I can check them out!