Title: After I Do
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published: 1st July 2014
Genre: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Fiction
Start Date: 6th July 2022
Finish Date: 6th July 2022
When Lauren and Ryan's marriage reaches 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?
After I Do is one of the earlier works of Taylor Jenkins Reid, it is set in the most recent years and is based in LA. The story is told from Lauren's perspective, but I would really love to have another book on Charlie and Natalie's relationship and journey through parenthood. I found Lauren the most compelling of all the characters but I suppose that would happen as I only know her story, I also related to her; I would react the same if I was in her position.
It is amazing how Taylor Jenkins Reid is able to weave together different elements of a story harmoniously; for example with the emails and the flashbacks. In my opinion, this was not just a simple 'find yourself' and 'discovering love again' story as we get each of the character's unique meaning of what they think love is. Taylor Jenkins Reid has done an amazing job of making the book not feel forced or unnatural. As uplifting as the story becomes, life happens regardless, and that is what makes reading this book unique and refreshing.
Lauren and Ryan have reached a point in their marriage where they no longer bother telling the other what is important to them. Their communication is hindered, and they become so withdrawn they begin hating the other for their own shortcomings. There is a strong sense of family bonds even outside of the marriage.
We experience the journey through Lauren's eyes and the unfiltered stream of her mind. I loved Lauren's initial honesty and ignorance within her marriage, and I admired the person she became during the time spent on her own. It was like she was remembering herself as the year went on. After I Do emphasises that there are no rules in life; there is no standard way for love to work.
The first half of the book I found truly heartbreaking to read; I became a witness to a disintegrating marriage. The book then jumps from yearly flashbacks starting from when Lauren and Ryan first met to the key events that led up to the present.I found it hard to read because I did not want to believe a couple so in love could end up hating each other and throwing hurtful words back and forth like it is nothing. Like years of laughter, dating, fun and love meant nothing. But at the same time I was reading it as if it was my husband and I. In my head I wasn't imagining Lauren and Ryan, I was seeing me and my husband.
Even though it is told from Lauren's perspective we are still privy to Ryan thoughts and feelings through unsent emails. There are so many moments where I am dying to know his perspective because there are two sides to every story. The emails are evidence of their maritial cracks and that Lauren and Ryan have very real and long-standing problems that need to be resolved. Sometimes there are thoughts and feelings that are hard to say, but easier to write down, and it is in those emails I felt Lauren and Ryan were the most honest with each other.
This is a book where the journey to the end is most important. This is the kind of book that makes you think, makes you feel and stays with you long after the last page is flipped. This book can get you out of a book rut, and it is filled with the most meaningful quotes if you like highlighting your books you will not be able to stop.
In my opinion, whether you love or hate the book, everyone will be able to relate to it on some level and take away something after reading. This is because the story is heartbreakingly real, the characters are easy to relate to and the premises of the book itself is a daily issue many of us in the world face. But with the pain comes a bright side; Never give up and always keep trying. Life is full of hurdles and nothing is perfect, but we can always do our best to make it as perfect as we can.
I highly recommend you reading this if you are looking for an inspiring, realistic plot about love and family, that is light on the angst but flooding with inspiration.