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  • Writer's picturehaleylynnthomas22

I Ranked Taylor Jenkins Reid's Contemporary Novels

1. After I Do
Once blissfully in love, Lauren and Ryan’s marriage is on the brink of divorce. They decide to spend a year apart to reassess if they want to stay married or split up for good.
I think Jenkins Reid made a smart choice in starting the novel with scenes from the history of Lauren and Ryan's relationship. This gives a foundation to understand why they want to fight for this thing that has fallen so far into disrepair. I was a little nervous that this wasn't dual perspective (it's just from Lauren's) because then it would feel like we didn't get a fair, balanced scale on which to weigh Lauren and Ryan's characters. This was corrected by having the couple write letters/email drafts to each other so we got to see what Ryan was going through as well.
Lauren and Ryan's marriage breakdown was from a lack of communication and complacency. Neither one was fighting for the other or even themselves and no relationship can function like that. Throughout the novel both learn about themselves and they are able to take that knowledge and make positive change with it. The only thing I would have liked to see added was them trying out counseling (either together or separate). We need more positive depictions of counseling in books and I feel like it would have made sense given their issues.
In terms of other characters, I really liked Lauren's siblings. Both of them had sweet, supportive relationships with her but they also both had their own story lines as well. They felt like real, fleshed out people. I didn't necessarily like Mila (Lauren's work friend) and I think her advice wasn't necessarily very good and she wasn't the support Lauren needed.

2. Forever, Interrupted
Elsie Porter marries Ben Ross after meeting at a pizza shop and forming an instant connection. Then, just little over a week after their marriage, Ben dies suddenly in an accident. The novel follows Elsie’s grief and healing experience.
I find myself drawn to stories that deal with the topic of grief and this is one of the best depictions of it I’ve read to date. Elsie’s grief is so raw and visceral and all consuming. If you’re currently experiencing a wave of grief I would highly recommend waiting to read this book because I worry it could be triggering. I liked the dual timeline in the book because Elsie’s grief wouldn’t be nearly as impactful without getting to witness her and Ben falling in love. That being said, Elsie and Ben’s romance was very much instalove and I wish the novel had been longer because things were too rushed with them. I did really like Elsie and Susan’s (Ben’s mother) relationship, however. There is a lot of tension between them but they end up forming a very beautiful bond. Ana (Elsie’s best friend), meanwhile, was my favorite character because she was such an amazing friend to Elsie. FINAL RATING: 3.75⭐️

3. One True Loves
Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart Jess but on their first anniversary he is missing/presumed dead in a helicopter crash. She moves on and becomes engaged to another man, Sam. When Jesse is found alive Emma is forced to choose between the life she has now and the one she had with Jesse.
I want to start this review off by stating that, in all fairness, I am not a fan of love triangles so that colored my enjoyment of the story. For me, though, the biggest downfall of this book was the main character, Emma. She didn’t feel like she had any real concrete personality. However, both of her love interests (Jesse and Sam) were well written. I actually liked them both a lot more than Emma. Both relationships were realistically depicted. They had highs and lows and chemistry and conflict. However, it’s hard to care too deeply about them when I didn’t like the character at the center of both relationships. My favorite part of the entire novel was the bittersweet but mature ending. FINAL RATING: 2.75⭐️

4. Maybe in Another Life
Hannah Martin returns to her hometown of Los Angeles. In dual universe story lines she chooses to either reunite with her high school love, Ethan, or move on without him. The story lines follow how her lives progress depending on what she chose.
I’m not quite sure what message this book was attempting to convey. On the one hand, Hannah believes in things being fated yet in the two universes she ends up with a different outcome. Then she comments that we are responsible for the consequences of our own actions which would imply she DOESN’T actually believe in fate. It’s just a confusing oxymoron of a book and character.
The novel’s chapters alternate between Hannah’s life when she chooses to stay with Ethan and her life when she doesn’t. I feel like you’re naturally going to prefer one story line over the other and find yourself bored or annoyed while reading the other chapters.
Hannah’s relationships with both love interests had their problems. I can’t really go into details or name said love interests without spoiling the novel which I don’t want to do. I found both to read more like a fantasy instead of something more grounded.
The best part of this novel is actually Gabby and Hannah’s friendship. The two girls share a sisterhood closeness and Hannah is also close to Gabby’s family. Given Hannah’s strained relationship with her own family it was nice to see her have a good support system. Honestly, the girls should have ditched their men and just lived together as they figured their lives out.
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