Tuesday, July 1, 2014

#REVIEW - "After I Do" by Taylor Jenkins Reid - NEW Release! Today, July 1st!

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.

My Take:
5+ Stars!
This book starts with Lauren and Ryan's marriage from when they met in the past from 11-1/2yrs ago, 11 years ago, 9-1/2 yrs ago, all the way up to now. The timeline is staggered so we get a really good feel of how their relationship progressed, and how it did not progress and ALL the problems these two face to get their marriage back on track.
Marriage. For those of us who are married ten years and longer, we know our relationships with our spouses are not nearly the same as they were when we first married. It can't be. We grow older, as does our spouse, and we change, hopefully we grow together, but not always. We can all relate to some of these same feelings this couple is going through and feeling, but not quite to the severe extent they are as their relationship is in a much more serious situation. Lauren is narrating this story, so we hear her side of it, and not much of Ryan's. Their marriage is a daily grind, and Lauren is wondering when and where that spark they once had will ever come back? She is tired of putting all the work into this marriage while Ryan seems to do nothing. All the firsts have come and gone except for children, but now is not the time to bring them into this marriage yet. 
These two almost feel pure resentment and possibly a little hatred towards one another. The other feels they both have a see-saw relationship of ups, downs, happy, sad, boredom, and it is the sheer loneliness that Lauren feels has overtaken her in this couple's relationship in what she feels is beyond repair. They have a non-existent sex life, and Lauren doesn't even feel any desire for sex with her husband. When they were active, Ryan only took and never gave her any intimacy. She feels it's a requirement for her to give to him, and yet she gets nothing in return. Yes, this is wrong. She feels it is better to withhold than to feel so alone in such an intimate setting. This makes her angry!
One evening Lauren is so angry at Ryan, her pent-up feelings she has towards Ryan overtakes her and she throws a ceramic vase at Ryan's head, but thankfully it misses him. That was the wake-up call to the both of them, and because of that, right now I can't even remember who it was that came up with the idea that these two decided to take a one-year break from the marriage away from each other. They decided they would have absolutely nothing to do with each other, including NO CONTACT! No phone calls, no emails, no texting, nothing. You would almost think they would need to contact each other in order to work some of these things through, or even give marriage counseling a try, but nope. To give this couple credit though, where most couples would just divorce, they decide to stay married, separate, and come back together again at the end of that year to see where they would be as a couple at that time. Both Lauren and Ryan needed to grow individually, and by staying in the marriage it was not allowing neither of them the opportunity to see the marriage and learn what was broken so they could move on to fix it. I never would have thought that would have been the case while seeing them like they were in the beginning of their relationship. It was after they were apart you could start to see growth happening mostly in Lauren, but this is because she is the one who is narrating the story that we don't see growth in Ryan.
I have to say this book was extremely well written, and the characters, all of the characters were very solid, charismatic, enjoyable, and written very life-like! Lauren's family is extremely close, and I liked that. Even Great Grandma was a hoot because she always thought she had cancer even though she didn't, but she even helped Lauren by giving her the name of a Dear So and So to write to for help! She swore by this person and said she could fix anyone's relationship! Lauren writes to her after all!
Lauren's sister, Rachel, was such a sweet sister to have, too! I never had a sister, and if I could pick one out, this character would be my sister! 
I think I read this entire 352 page book in about six to eight hours at the most because this is how well written and smooth the story just flowed. I just HAD to read this non-stop, flipping through the pages, not putting this one down for anything because I needed to know 'how' these two characters, Lauren and Ryan, were going to fix their marriage without even talking about it. It was quite a ride! It is such an emotionally addictive read and gives us an extremely broad range of feelings throughout this story, you could not put it down. Again, I have to bring up this author's writing. It is excellent, it flowed just beautifully, and before you even knew it you were halfway through the book it read so well and made you 'feel' how the character, Lauren, felt through this all. This author had no trouble getting that across. Please take this as a warning! Pick a block of time when you can just sit back and enjoy this book straight through!

I received this book for FREE from the Publisher, Washington Square Press, A Division of Simon and Schuster/Atria, and NetGalley, in exchange to read and write a review about it. "Free" means I was provided with ZERO MONIES to do so, but to enjoy the pure pleasure of reading it and giving my own honest opinion no matter whether it is positive or negative. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the law set here: http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html., The Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, 16 CFR 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising Federal Acquisition  Regulation.

Buy this! You'll LOVE it!
ebook: $11.66

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