I love Jennifer Weiner. I love her as an author, as a person, and as a hilarious go-to for Bachelor/Bachelorette snark. I do admit it's been a little while since I've read one of her books but when I heard about her latest, Who Do You Love , released earlier this month, I knew I had to read it right away.
Here's the synopsis:
Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are eight years old when they meet late one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she's intrigued by the boy who shows up all alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy's taken back to the emergency room and Rachel's sent back to her bed, they think they'll never see each other again.
Rachel, the beloved, popular, and protected daughter of two doting parents, grows up wanting for nothing in a fancy Florida suburb. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent that will let him become one of the best runners of his generation.
Over the course of three decades, through high school and college, marriages and divorces, from the pinnacles of victory and the heartbreak of defeat, Andy and Rachel will find each other again and again, until they are finally given a chance to decide whether love can surmount difference and distance and if they've been running toward each other all along.
With honesty, wit, and clear-eyed observations about men and women, love and fate, and the truth about happy endings, Jennifer Weiner delivers two of her most memorable characters, and a love story you'll never forget.
Even if I wasn't in love with Weiner, I'd want to read this book. I love second chance love stories (something you'll hear me repeat a lot this month...apparently August had a theme!) and I was intrigued about Rachel and Andy and how their story would play out over the years. And, spoiler but no spoiler, it's kind of soul-crushing. They go through so much and I really wasn't sure how their story would end. Would it end completely or would it end with a new beginning? Oh, the feels!
I found it really interesting and refreshing (in the best possible ways) how Weiner wrote her main characters. Young Rachel (and even twenties Rachel) was not a very nice person. I mean, she was nice enough but she was part of the Mean Girls crowd in high school (there's one scene that made me cringe and I imagine would be even worse for anyone who was bullied or did the bullying. So well done but so sad too.) and was in a sorority in college. Young Andy had some struggles but it's adult Andy who becomes someone you can't see yourself looking up to or maybe even associating with. I found all of this interesting because, typically, Weiner writes likeable characters. And I have a feeling she wrote Rachel and Andy the way she did in a very deliberate way. Characters don't have to be likeable and, guess what literary world, chick lit and women's fiction can have characters who aren't particularly likeable. What matters is they are interesting, layered, complex human beings who you want to keep reading about. And they definitely were.
The way the story was told took some getting used to. Each chapter alternates perspectives and takes place in a different year. What this means is you get to see what's happening in each character's life yet you don't get overlapping points of view. I sometimes felt I had missed something (and, in a way, I did: a few years between characters/chapters) but somehow it all worked together. The best way I can describe it is it was almost like interconnected short stories. I actually can't imagine the story being told any other way.
Who Do You Love is a heartbreakingly romantic, well written, engaging novel. I really enjoyed Jennifer Weiner's latest and already can't wait for what she writes next. (So, it's a good thing I have some of her backlist to work through!)
*An ARC of this novel was provided by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*