Published by Doubleday Canada on June 28th 2016
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I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
In this dazzling new novel, Emily Giffin, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed, Where We Belong, and The One & Only introduces a pair of sisters who find themselves at a crossroads. Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond. Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands. On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately, Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired. As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover they need each other more than they knew . . . and that in the recipe for true happiness, love always comes first. Emotionally honest and utterly enthralling, First Comes Love is a story about family, friendship, and the courage to follow your own heart—wherever that may lead. Praise for Emily Giffin “Emily Giffin ranks as a grand master. . . . She has traversed the slippery slopes of true love, lost love, marriage, motherhood, betrayal, forgiveness and redemption that have led her to be called ‘a modern-day Jane Austen.’ ”
“A dependably down-to-earth, girlfriendly storyteller.”
—The New York Times
“Giffin’s talent lies in taking relatable situations and injecting enough wit and suspense to make them feel fresh.”
“Emily Giffin is the creator of characters so real and so enthrallingly flawed that people sometimes forget they are fictional.”
“When it comes to writing stories that resonate with real women, bestselling author Emily Giffin has hit her stride.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Giffin knows a thing or two about writing a page turner.”—Southern Living “Giffin’s writing is true, smart, and heartfelt.”—Entertainment Weekly
I’ve heard nothing but good things about Emily Giffin’s works, but First Comes Love was unfortunately a story that I just couldn’t relate to in the end. When I first started reading it, I felt like the concept was clearly an emotional one that I might enjoy, but it didn’t stay that way as the book continued. It’s entirely possible that those who have read books by this author in the past and loved them will really love this one just as much. In my opinion, the characters were far too unlikable, the romance was lacking, and the family dynamic was disappointing.
The book revolves around two sisters who are now living very different lives, but are both scarred from the tragic loss of their brother fifteen years ago. They are both still trying to move on from the loss of Daniel, but secrets regarding the real reason why he was out the night he got into an accident are continually weighing on one of the sisters. Anyway, Meredith and Josie have a strained relationship to say the least. On top of this, both sisters are individually contemplating making major decisions for their lives.
Josie is in her late 30’s, still single, and wants a child way more than she wants a husband. She’s a first grade teacher, and her last serious boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her classroom, which makes her want a child of her own even more. She takes matters into her own hands by taking on a sperm donor. Though there were some moments when I felt like Josie was extremely selfish and a little obsessive regarding her ex-boyfriend, I still was able to relate to her on some levels. The point is, she was very likable at times, and the times when she wasn’t only showed us that she was a human being who screwed up sometimes.
On the other hand, Meredith was a character who I wasn’t able to identify or even sympathize with. I felt like she criticized Josie far too frequently than she should have. No matter what her sister said, Meredith always reached the conclusion that she had to make everything about her. Look, I have a brother so I personally am unable to fully fathom what it’s like to have a sister. However, this relationship was just so dysfunctional and wrong, in my opinion. Meredith is living a lot different from Josie: she’s married with a four-year-old daughter. She’s unhappy in her marriage and unsatisfied sexually as well. The reason why I had no sympathy for her is because she married someone that she was never in love with. She knew before she even married him that she had no passion with him, so I don’t feel sorry for her. She was a character who I seriously cared next to nothing about, as bad as that sounds.
I didn’t like how the romance ended up for either of the characters. I get that this is more of a women’s fiction book than a full fledged romance, but I still expect romance to play a bigger part in the plot than it did. I won’t say much about what happens with Josie’s romance, but I will mention that I didn’t like that character at all and was surprised that he ended up being a love interest for her at all. My feelings about Meredith’s relationship status have already been discussed so I won’t ramble more about it, it was just really difficult to read about. Nolan was such a decent husband who was a great father to Harper, and I honestly felt like he deserved more than Meredith honestly.
I hate to say it, but First Comes Love was a disappointing read that I expected so much more from. For a book that was supposed to be about families, I felt like we didn’t even get to see the parents interact with the girls all that much. Instead, the author decided to focus on the angst and bickering between the sisters that never had a real resolution. Though I can’t say anything about Giffin’s other books, I still suggest that you skip this and check one of those out instead of this book.