I was so excited to read this, and hated having to wait to talk about it!!!
The complexities of a friendship. The unexplored doubts of a marriage. And the redemptive power of literature… Julie Buxbaum, the acclaimed author of The Opposite of Love, delivers a haunting, gloriously written novel about love, family, and the secrets we hide from each other–and ourselves.
It happened on a tree-lined street in Notting Hill to a woman who seemed to have the perfect life. Ellie Lerner’s best friend, Lucy, was murdered in front of her young daughter. And, as best friends do, Ellie dropped everything–her marriage, her job, her life in the Boston suburbs–to travel to London and pick up the pieces of Lucy’s life. While Lucy’s husband, Greg, copes with his grief by retreating into himself, eight-year-old Sophie has simply stopped speaking.
Desperate to help Sophie, Ellie turns to a book that gave her comfort as a child, The Secret Garden. As the two spend hours exploring the novel’s winding passageways, its story of hurt, magic, and healing blooms around them. But so, too, do Lucy’s secrets–some big, some small–secrets Lucy kept hidden, even from her best friend. Over a summer in London, as Ellie peels back the layers of her friend’s life, she’s forced to confront her own as well: the marriage she left behind, the loss she’d hoped to escape. And suddenly Ellie’s carefully constructed existence is spinning out of control in a chain of events that will transform her life–and those around her–forever.
I really liked The Opposite of Love-anything that bridges that gap of motherloss I usually really identify with, since the feelings and experiences are rare, but yet so similar between us. After You takes a slightly different tack while playing with the same ideas-but the motherloss if shown from the experience of the child, the father and the sister (figure), showcasing how the loss can cross and like a dagger, slaughter all.
I found After You to be solidly written-if anything, the writing was more mature, sober, and yet still I found myself snorting with laughter in a few places. The writing around the family-the suffering husband, the mourning child-was nearly perfect. The raw emotion after loss-the sudden new context that brings to lives-I loved this, and identified so fully.
At first I couldn’t understand why Ellie would drop her life completely when her friend is murdered-we’d all visit, but would we stay? But then the context-her own lost baby, her starry-eyed view of Lucy-remind us that we don’t all make reasoned, understandable decisions all the time. As a mother, imagining the daughter of my friend alone, without a mother would be enough to drag me across the world.
I really enjoyed this book. Until I didn’t.
The book was 336 pages long. About 331, I stared yelling at it, scaring the cats. “WHY!!! JULIE WHY!!!!”
I’m not going to ruin it. But let’s just say that this book takes the hard road a few times, not necessarily the surprising one but the honest hard one. And then, suddenly, either she got tired, and reconsidered and wanted a happy ending.
And it did not work. Not one bit. I didn’t want it, not after how the book had developed, and frankly, I didn’t see Philip wanting it either. It didn’t make sense after everything, to suddenly tie the world up in a bow.
The majority of the book dealt with real life, and did so honestly. The ending, frankly, was almost a betrayal. And made me throw the book. I never throw books. I like books.
Julie? Sigh. I LOVED this book up until 331. Then…not so much. I had tried to commit to only reading it near the review due date, and I couldn’t and then I couldn’t stop! It was that good! And then….
I would absolutely recommend this book, but personally, very disappointed with the ending.
After You is available….well, everywhere! And is Julie Buxbaum’s second book.