Tuesday, June 28, 2016
BOOK REVIEW// FIRST COMES LOVE BY EMILY GIFFIN
Many thanks to Ballantine Books - Random House Publishing for giving me an advanced copy of this book.
While the book was free, as a girl who is "all about the library" ( where books are always free) - you can be sure that all opinions are mine!
I think I’ve read an Emily Giffin book every summer for the last four years- she is definitely my favorite beach read author. “First Comes Love” does not disappoint as a "beach read”, but overall I had mixed feelings while reading this book.
To me a really good beach read should be like the best Lifetime movie you have ever seen. The story should pull you in; you can’t turn the channel no matter what the distraction( dishes, I’ll do them later - child, here’s a banana- don’t choke ; ). While the story itself does not require a great deal of thought or deep analysis, after a glass of wine or over lunch with a friend, there’s still enough there that it is fun to explore the motivations of the characters and talk about the plot.
As this is a spoiler free review (“First Comes Love” just came out today, and I would hate to ruin it for anyone- because that is always evil) the basic plot is thus - two sisters, Meredith and Josie, lost their brother in a car accident 15 years ago and the book explores how this tragedy impacted Meredith and Josie’s relationships and emotional lives. Josie is focused on finding a husband and starting a family, though not necessarily in that order. With a biological clock ticking like a bomb, she is determined to move forward in her life. Meredith, on the other hand- has everything Josie wants- a husband and a daughter. And while Meredith may seem to have the whole package, she isn’t truly happy with her life at all.
Emily Giffin is excellent at creating incredibly relateable female characters. And in "First Comes Love", while the characters are certainly relateable, to me at least - they weren't likeable. And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying all female characters have to be likeable - ew. But if I am going to read a couple hundred pages, I have to have someone I am sticking around for, ya know? So while I could relate to both characters, I wasn't loving the reflection I saw of myself in them. To me, they predominately represented some of the negative aspects of womanhood - Josie and Meredith are messy and flawed, and they weren't necessarily the kind of reflection of myself that I enjoy seeing.
Josie is irritatingly obsessed with starting a family, and strikes me as that obnoxious girl who says things just to shock people- which she does several times thoroughout the book. And while introverted me would never think to say the things Josie does outloud, I have definitely thought one or two of the short sighted things she did about starting a family. Meredith is unhappy with her marriage and feels stuck, unfulfilled, and inferior as a mother- and really, what wife or mother hasn't felt that way? Josie and Meredith a short with each other, judgemental, and were basically a reminder to me of why I am maybe lucky to have two brothers instead of sisters.
Ironically, my favorite character in the book is Pete. Pete, whom Josie tells will be her “last date ever” on Match.com (epic eye roll Josie, come on). Overall, I found his character incredibly likeable and intriguing. But even Pete, the character I most liked, was a pretty irritating. If he dropped one more overt hint to Josie that he’d like to have sex with her...not my cup of tea, Pete- she can take a hint, be cool, bro.
So yes, I have some definite beefs with the characters- but despite all of that I really was sucked in by the story. While I would never want to be trapped in a room with them, I did want to know what was going to happen for the train wrecks that are Meredith and Josie. And so, just like a hateably good Lifetime movie, I rolled my eyes at their ridiculousness- and ate a bucket of popcorn while staring at the screen.
I don’t know that I would recommend this book to very many other people. If you like Emily Giffin's books, you’ll probably like it- but with all of the great books coming out this summer, I’m just not sure it rises to anything above 3/5 stars for me. I guess I just needed a little more there, there? I’m a sucker for those great quotable takeaways from books that leave me searching for a notebook, a pen, or a tab to mark the page - and this just didn’t have any of those moments for me.
TL; DR? Okay read for the summer, but between the characters and general writing style- " First Come Love" just isn’t something that will stick with you for much longer than the beach.
Please comment below with your thoughts on the book!
happy reading, y’all.