Publication Date: July 21st 2014
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Rating: 10/5 Stars
From the author of Forever, Interrupted—hailed by Sarah Jio as “moving, gorgeous, and at times heart-wrenching”—comes a breathtaking new novel about modern marriage, the depth of family ties, and the year that one remarkable heroine spends exploring both.
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?
This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game—and searching for a new road to happily ever after.
The reason this book got 10/5 stars from me was because it was utterly perfect in so many ways. Whether or not you are married, this book provokes so many different thoughts in regards to how we treat each other and what loving someone can mean. As a young woman in my early twenties whose been in a relationship for nearly 7 years, I literally had to stop reading this book at certain points to think about things and the way I had been living my relationship.
One of the biggest factors for Lauren and Ryan taking a break from each other is the apathy they begin to feel towards each other. There just isn’t anything there for them anymore, and it really made me think about how much value I was putting in my partner. And while I was happy with the result, I realized I never wanted to be put in the position of taking him for granted. He is the love of my life and I don’t want that feeling of euphoria while being with him to go away. And while that may stem from us having just come off of a 2 and a half year long distance relationship, it’s an amazing feeling to get giddy over the thought of him still.
It’s one thing I appreciated about After I Do so much; how Lauren got to re-fall in love with Ryan during her time away from him. And for her, it was simply the thought of Ryan that did it, whereas I at least had the ability to talk to Ben while we were apart. Lauren’s personal growth was amazing to read as well. When you are with a person for so long, and from a young age, it is easy to lose yourself in them and to forget who you can be as an individual. As awful as long distance was at times, I look back at it in hindsight and am so happy we did it. To have the opportunity to grow as individuals when we had been together since we were 16, it came at a time in our lives that was so crucial to who we will be as adults. I wouldn’t want to do it again but it led me understand how lucky I am to have found the person I want to spend my life with at such a young age, but to still understand that I want to be my own person and that having Ben in my life enhances it in amazing ways but that I can still live independently.
Reid has written books that make you think about the littlest things in life, and with After I Do, I had to seriously think about whether or not I was getting complacent in my relationship. Lauren and Ryan were admirable characters and in ways that I have a very difficult time articulating. Reid wrote them so beautifully fleshed out I struggled through that year with them every step of the way. I got frustrated over the littlest things they did; I was eaten away by jealousy; I cheered when they made little milestones in their development; and I ultimately cried with them and fell in love all over again.
I apologize if this review ended up being more of a reflection on my own relationship but that’s exactly what this book did for me, and I couldn’t be more grateful to it for drastically altering the way I see things. I can absolutely see myself returning to After I Do throughout my life, whether I am in a relationship, married or on my own; Taylor Jenkins Reid wrote one of the most thought-provoking and beautiful books i’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.
Some quotes that really resonated with me:
“Just because you can live without someone doesn’t mean you want to.”
“Isn’t it nice … once you’ve outgrown the ideas of what life should be and you just enjoy what it is.”
“Sometimes people do things because they are furious or because they are upset or because they are out for blood. And those things can hurt. But what hurts the most is when someone does something out of apathy. They don’t care about you the way they said they did back in college. They don’t care about you the way they promised to when you got married. They don’t care about you at all.”
“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.”
“There is no failing or winning or losing … This is life, Lauren. This is love and marriage. If you stay married for a number of years and you have a happy time together and then you decide you don’t want to be married anymore and you choose to go be happy with somebody else or doing something else, that’s not a failure. That’s just life. That’s just how love is. How is that a failure?”
“We were in love, high on the novelty of marriage. The words husband and wife felt as if they had a shine to them. They were simply more fun to say than all the other words we knew.”