I recently had the good fortune to get my hands on an advanced copy of Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
It’s the type of book I would normally label “a fast read”, in that I was whipping through it quite quickly, in a completely taken in by the story type of way.
Forever, Interrupted is the story of Elsie, a young woman who falls completely head over heels in love with Ben, the absolute soul mate of her life. They experience a whirlwind romance and elope after having known one another for only six months.
Ben’s tiny little secret? He never did know how to break the relationship to his mother. Sounds awful, right? But Ben’s mother has been a little fragile since losing her own husband Steven not even three years ago and Ben is worried that to tell her that he is in love would make her feel that he is “leaving her too”, hence procrastination with good intentions becomes avoidance, and so on.
This all would have come out in the wash eventually, we’re sure, except that ten days into the marriage, Ben is killed in a crash.
No, that is not a spoiler, it’s on the back jacket of the book. Because the story is not just about two people who fell madly in love with one another, it’s also about a whole other kind of relationship. The one between Elsie and the mother in law who never knew she existed.
Naturally, they do not get off to the best start, and I found myself feeling massive amounts of sympathy for both women (a fantastic accomplishment of the author). You really can understand the confusion and anger of a mother who has lost her only child suddenly accosted by a young woman claiming not only that she was his wife, but that suddenly his end of life wishes weren’t what the mother had thought they were all along. And, so soon in the marriage, with no license having yet arrived, the whole thing seems suspect to say the least.
And then there’s Elsie, who is destroyed utterly by losing Ben (and has NO relationship with her own parents) who doesn’t know how to approach a mother she never had the chance to get to know, who is also a widow.
Reading this story touched me on many levels. One of the things I loved about it (because, in a non-narcissistic way, it reminded me of how I like to write) it is extremely character driven. We fall in love with so many parts of this book as a reader. We fall in love with Elsie as both the woman in the full flush of love, as well as the broken, grieving widow, we fall in love with Susan, her mother in law, with Elsie’s best friend and even with Ben as we see him in flashbacks through Elsie’s eyes.
It’s poignant, warm, sometimes funny, sometimes heart wrenching. It’s a great book for anyone who has been through a big loss, or who has been the best friend of someone experiencing a hard loss.
I highly recommend this book, in fact, it seems like exactly the type of book that a summer book group would love to sink their teeth into. I was dying to talk to someone about it when I finished and believe me when I tell you, if I had the contact information for the writer, I would have sent her a very nerdy fan-girl type of email.
Get online, check it out, order a copy of this book. You will not regret it.
It becomes available on July 9th.
Thank you to Carly and Taylor for getting me this copy.