Published: 27th August 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
The emotionally driven narrative opens with heartbreak, closed curtains, empty chocolate boxes and the push from a friend. Our main character, Rachel is struggling to come to terms with what has just happened but readers aren’t aware of the situation just yet, however I liked not knowing and it leads onto us getting to know the real Rachel..
“They hadn’t even wanted to buy me the soundtrack. I’d had to get Nana to buy it for my birthday.”
Rachel has had a broken heart since she was born. As the narrative takes us back in time to when Rachel was 8 years old, we meet Andrew; a boy of the same age who is in the hospital alone with a broken arm. What I didn’t expect was his point of review, yet it amazed me of how well it suited the flow of the plot. The juxtaposition of their two very different lives whilst growing up was so unbelievably interesting and I just couldn’t stop reading. Andrew, or Andy as he likes to be called, has a upbringing with a widowed mother who has trouble saying ‘I Love You.’ The journey of Andy discovering who his father was, was quite a long process and I didn’t grow tired of his need to know more – I actually found it to be really sweet and quite touching. As a teenager, Rachel had a different life: she ached to be loved, to have sex, to fit in with her friends whilst playing down her illness. The term ‘walking on egg shells’ came to mind when I read about Rachel’s teenage years; she just didn’t seem to let her shoulders relax.
“I wanted to be the center of some guy’s universe, the only thing he could think about. I wanted to mater that way.”
When Rachel and Andy met years later at a volunteering camp, something clicked instantly between them and for a moment, I felt like I was back in The Fault In Our Stars. Their connection was really sweet and soon enough, they saw more of one another. Despite them coming from two completely different worlds, that didn’t seem to bother either of them in the slightest: Rachel being a Jew and Andy being from a white/black family. Just like any other relationship, they had their ups and downs which I really liked reading about because despite the book being set in America, their problems were still very relatable. The plot wasn’t just about their roller coaster relationship, we learnt about their lives as they grew during their time at University and into full time jobs. They were both doing good to the world and I admired that. They weren’t two selfish main characters.
“Daddy and I were watching the Today show.. Two planes bit the Twin Towers. They’re saying it might be terrorists.”
Jennifer wrote the characters of Rachel and Andy with such control, precision and life. It was so easy to fall into step with their two lives and when they always came back together, it was like they’d never been apart. They were able to rely on one another despite going months, even years without speaking – they were always there for one another, at the good and bad times. Despite the ever so slightly rushed ending, I found myself smiling in awe of the couple who just couldn’t let their hearts truly love anyone else. It was romantic, extremely well written and a plot you just can’t not enjoy.
“Was that what he had to look forward to? Mud masks and unannounced farting?”