I have been both wanting to read One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid for a while now and putting it off at the same time. The premise just seemed like I’d be in for some heartbreak and while I do love me some emotional damaging books, it can be scary too. I finally read it and let me tell you – the anxiety it put me through was to the roof, but it was so worth it.
I finished the book a few days ago, but it’s still sitting with me and on my mind.
The first line of the book is, “I am finishing up dinner with my family and my fiancé when my husband calls.” What?!
So here’s the premise of the book. Emma grew up in Massachusetts and worked part time at her parents’ bookstore. She lived a normal teenage life. Worked at the store, didn’t really get along with her older sister that much, had a best friend, and became good friends with this guy Sam who worked at the bookstore and was a year older than her at their high school. She also had a little crush on the swim team captain, Jesse, but she didn’t actually know him. Until one night they start talking at a party and the rest is history. They move to California together for college, travel the world, etc. and eventually get married in their mid 20s.
While on a work trip in Alaska, Jesse is on a helicopter over the ocean with a couple coworkers and the helicopter goes down. There are no survivors. Emma is an utter wreck for a long time, barely surviving without her love. After a few months, she goes back home to the east coast to be with her family and after a few years she is ready to accept that she needs to move forward with her life. By chance she runs into and reconnects with Sam and she agrees to go on a date with him. Dating turns into love turns into getting engaged. Emma is in love and happy again. And then the phone call…
Jesse is alive and coming home. What does that mean? Where has he been the past few years? Are they still in love with each other? What about her engagement to Sam?
I absolutely loved the book despite the anxiety it brought me and the heart wrenching circumstances in the book. I felt for Emma the whole time and her impossible decision. Jesse or Sam? And even though I got briefly frustrated with her at times, I could understand her feelings and confusion. At first my anxiety was over the fact that I loved both Jesse and Sam and couldn’t decide who I wanted her to end up with mixed with the sadness in knowing one of the guys would be left heartbroken (I know these are fictional characters…). Then, as the novel went on I definitely was leaning more towards one guy than the other (while still feeling badly for the other guy) and my anxiety went to hoping she picked the one I wanted.
The book really makes you think about love and how it evolves. I often think about how we’re not the same people at 20 as we are at 30 and so on. Emma makes a good point in the book about how she is a different person at 31 than she was when she was 26 and married to Jesse and it’s not just due to time, but because of experiences. For example, she is a different person because she was shaped by the tragedy of losing her husband. And even though he ended up being alive, that doesn’t change the fact that she had mourned him. Her whole life changed with that event.
Something I have thought about in the past is the idea of soulmates. If you do only get one soulmate and the person passes away long before you and you fall in love again – was the first person your soulmate or the second? Or do we get more than one soulmate?
Anyway, I was happy with the ending, but it still made my heart ache a bit. The book was so beautiful and I highly recommend it. It’s one of my favorite books of the year for sure. I think it’s truly an underrated TJR book.
There were so many good quotes in the book. Here are two I loved amongst the dozens that aren’t spoiler-y:
“Just because something isn’t meant to last a lifetime doesn’t mean it wasn’t meant to be.”
“I don’t think that true love means your only love. I think true love means loving truly. Loving purely. Loving wholly.”
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