Published by Atria
Publication Date: July 1st, 2013
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary, Contemporary Romance
Also by this author: Maybe in Another Life
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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.
“We are fighting because we don’t know how to be happy. We are fighting because we are not happy. We are fighting because we no longer make each other happy.”
When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage starts unfolding it’s not because of one event: it’s because of several. The little resentments that take center stage. Things left unsaid that are deafening. The realization that loving someone and being in love are two totally different things. What was once a love that was admired and envied by friends and family turns into a burden that leaves a heavy truth that their marriage might be over. With neither one of them wanting to utter the dread “D” word they decide to fight for their marriage in an unconventional way: by taking a year off from it. Not only will they have no contact for a year but they are truly free to do whatever they want in hopes that they will find their way back to one another.
“I don’t know what he’s thinking. I don’t know where he’s going. I don’t know how long he’ll be gone. All I know is that this might, in fact, be the end of my marriage. It might be the end of something I thought had no ending.”
For Lauren, the thought of freedom and independence is oppressive and terrifying. At first everything is a trigger for Lauren -her friends, her family, her daily habits- these are just reminders that Ryan, her one constant in life, is gone and she has to heal herself before she can even think of healing them. For anyone that has been in a long-term relationship, especially throughout most of your adulthood, the effect of separation is devastating.
“Ryan and I are two people who used to be in love. What a beautiful thing to have been. What a sad thing to be.”
But little by little Lauren starts to mend herself. She starts to create a life that is new and exciting. She finds comfort in her sister. A special bond with her brother. A support system from her mom. And advice from her funny and sometimes politically-incorrect grandma. But Ryan is never far from her mind. As Lauren starts to live her life she starts to uncover truths about herself that have lead to her participation in her broken marriage, as well as truths that have the power to fix them.
“My heart is truly broken. And I know that even if it mends, it will look different, feel different, beat differently.”
It was so easy to empathize with Lauren’s anger and her sorrow and for that I found myself devouring this story because it became my story too. I found myself in physical pain during her saddest moments because they re-hashed my own. It’s easy to find yourself in the shoes of Lauren and Ryan after the thrill of falling in love is gone. Because falling in love is easy, but staying in love is hard.
“Why do we do this? Why do we undervalue things when we have them? Why is it only on the verge of losing something that we see how much we need it?”
Despite the circumstances between Lauren and Ryan After I Do is a beautiful and heart-wrenching story about love and family and the ties that bind us beyond just the physical act of love. This is a story about fighting for yourself, for your own happiness, and for the hope of experiencing that with the person you were meant to. This truly is a love story for anyone that has ever been in a long-term relationship. This is hands down, one of the best books I have read all year. I laughed, cried, and hung on every word and emotion thrown my way. The emotions and the journey of this woman, this couple, this family, resonated deep inside my heart and I know it is a story that I will never forget.