Summary: College sweethearts, Lauren and Ryan’s marriage comes to the breaking point, as they realize they no longer love each other. Divorce? An open marriage? In hope that they’ll reconnect and fall in love again, Lauren and Ryan decide to take a year off. One year apart, no contact, and anything goes. As Lauren spends more time with her family and friends, she comes to realize that everyone has their own ideas of marriage, including herself. Can she continue a life with Ryan with or without lust and love, or have a life where Ryan isn’t even in the picture?
My Rating: 3.75/ 5 Stars
After I Do is the second Taylor Jenkins Reid novel that I’ve read. Like One True Loves, it took me less than two days to finish After I Do. One True Loves and After I Do are similar is that they deal with broken marriages. In One True Loves, the main protagonist must decide if she is going to continue her marriage with her husband, Jesse, who she thought was dead after being lost at sea for three years, or marry the man who she met will trying to move on with her life after Jesse. In After I Do, we follow Lauren and Ryan’s year apart, as Lauren tries to figure out how to fix her marriage. Similar to that of One True Loves, we flash back to the beginning of Lauren and Ryan’s relationship right and how they came to their breaking point. I appreciated how we knew the base of their relationship from the start, instead of it being scattered throughout the story.
After I Do is separated into four parts, and in my opinion, the title of the parts had no sense of togetherness. We go from “Where does the good go?” to “November Rain” to “Most of the Time” and lastly, “Nothing Compares 2 U”. The first and last title suit what happens in their respective part, but the second and third parts don’t really describe how Lauren is feeling. Yes, Lauren is depressed (as expected), but there is more to her life: she’s helping her sister open a bakery, she’s working with Mila, she goes running with Thumper, she spends time with David, etc. As much as Lauren spends time with her friends and family and has new experiences, examples including preparing to be an aunt and welcoming in another family member as well as taking up hiking, I didn’t really get a sense of the “self-discovery” that the book’s summary promotes. The only discovering (in this case, snooping) she really does is finding the drafts in Ryan’s email account. Additionally, I hated the repetition of Lauren saying that she was fine. Obviously, she wasn’t- her marriage is on the brink, what would you expect in a book focused on fixing a broken marriage?- and I didn’t think telling herself she was fine really helped anything. Mila, Rachel, and Charlie could almost always tell that she wasn’t that fine.
My favorite characters in the novel weren’t Ryan or Lauren; rather it was Lauren’s family. Her grandmother was hilarious, I loved her Mom’s enthusiasm over doing whatever she can to make her children happy, Rachel was a great role model for Lauren (showing that you didn’t need a partner or marriage to be happy in life), and Charlie was pretty funny himself. I loved seeing Lauren spending time with Rachel, especially when it came to her baking. From the moment we see Rachel in her kitchen, I figured that having a bakery would be incorporated somewhere in the novel. I thought that Lauren and Rachel would open it together, helping Lauren create a somewhat “new life” for herself. And how could I forget Thumper?? He was another favorite; I would stayed married for that dog!
Overall, while I enjoyed After I Do’s unique storyline and its loving cast of characters with their own story arcs (I think I enjoyed Rachel and Charlie’s more than Lauren’s, oops), it wasn’t my favorite. I thought we would see Lauren really embrace a life without Ryan, similar to that of One True Loves. In my opinion, it sort’ve made sense that her and Ryan weren’t getting along too well: they were the only people they’ve dated since they were nineteen years old! Yes, there are plenty of high school and college sweethearts that spend their lives together, but I think Lauren and Ryan had some different ideas about living life. I also hated that it took them a year of separation to realize that they didn’t have to every little thing together. You don’t like baseball? Then you don’t have to come to a Dodgers game with me. Don’t like Ethiopian food? Tell me and we don’t have to it together!
I find that Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books are perfectly light beach reads! I’m not sure when I will, but I think my next TJR book will be Forever, Interrupted. Have you read any Taylor Jenkins Reid books or After I Do? Share in the comments!