Two reviews…first up: Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
I have loved Jennifer Weiner since her first book, Good in Bed, and she has grown since then, graduating from smart chick-lit to smart women’s fiction, and this new one is a coming of age/contemporary romance at its best – and it’s still smart.
Rachel Blum is a sickly child, born with a heart condition that requires constant monitoring and many surgeries. During one hospitalization, she wanders into the ER, bored and looking for a story. She meets Andy Landis, a biracial young boy with a broken arm and a missing mother. She keeps him company, tells him a story and gives him a stuffed animal. Eventually his mother shows up and Rachel is sent back to her room.
Fast forward to college and Rachel is on a trip to Atlanta for a charitable organization. A good looking young man catches her eye, and yes, it is Andy. Thus begins a life-long love affair that survives different socio-economic classes, geographical separations, breakups, other relationships, a scandal, and so much more.
Weiner makes us wonder, is there such a thing as a one-and-only love? Can you meet your soulmate as a child and love them forever? Can a spoiled Jewish princess find happiness with an Olympic runner from the Philadelphia projects?
These characters are complex and real, and this is a beautiful coming of age story in addition to a sweeping romance. Best of all, the book is totally unputdownable – I couldn’t stop turning the pages and when I finished it, I couldn’t stop thinking about these characters, and that is the highest praise I can give. Don’t miss it.
From Becky LeJeune:
Eight-year-old Rachel Blum is recovering from her latest heart surgery when she meets Andy Landis. He’s brought into the emergency room with a broken arm, his mother nowhere to be found, so Rachel decides to keep him company.
As teens they cross paths again, this time on a volunteer trip to Atlanta. Andy remembers the girl who sat with him in the waiting room – Rachel Blum. Bloom like flower… For Rachel it’s love at first sight but for Andy, the trip marks the first time he really sees the differences that stand in their way.
For years, the two connect and part ways, date and break up, and fall in and out of love. Only time will tell, though, whether Rachel and Andy are truly meant for one another or if their fate lies elsewhere.
Weiner’s latest is a sweet but very realistic love story. Rachel and Andy grow and change as the years pass and face a lot of things most people never will – a life threatening heart condition, the pressure of being an Olympic athlete – but they also face a lot of things the average reader can relate to. They learn from one another, they make mistakes, and they piss each other off. Royally. It lends an air of believability and realism that I think most stories of this kind are missing. And it’s exactly this realism that ultimately pulls the reader in: Rachel and Andy could be your best friends, your sister, your brother, or even you… You’ll laugh with them, cry with them, and root for them all the way through the final pages.
WHO DO YOU LOVE by Jennifer Weiner. Atria Books (August 11, 2015). ISBN 978-1451617818. 400p.