Thursday, July 11, 2013

Review: Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid


Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Series: Standalone
Published: July 9th, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
352 pages (ARC)
Genre: Contemporary women’s fiction
Acquired this book: From Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
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Elsie Porter is an average twenty-something and yet what happens to her is anything but ordinary. On a rainy New Year’s Day, she heads out to pick up a pizza for one. She isn’t expecting to see anyone else in the shop, much less the adorable and charming Ben Ross. Their chemistry is instant and electric. Ben cannot even wait twenty-four hours before asking to see her again. Within weeks, the two are head over heels in love. By May, they’ve eloped.

Only nine days later, Ben is out riding his bike when he is hit by a truck and killed on impact. Elsie hears the sirens outside her apartment, but by the time she gets downstairs, he has already been whisked off to the emergency room. At the hospital, she must face Susan, the mother-in-law she has never met—and who doesn’t even know Elsie exists.

Interweaving Elsie and Ben’s charmed romance with Elsie and Susan’s healing process, Forever, Interrupted will remind you that there’s more than one way to find a happy ending.

 
 
I'll be honest: I was really wary when Simon and Schuster Canada contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in reading and reviewing Forever, Interrupted. In fact, I almost declined. I’m so, so glad I didn’t. Forever, Interrupted was not at all what I was expecting. I expected it to be really emotional and maybe even difficult to read, and while it was those things, it was also unexpectedly funny and charming, and almost disarming in the brutally honest way it portrayed grief.

Forever, Interrupted is told in an interesting, engaging way. It goes back and forth between the not-so-distant past - Elsie and Ben’s short courtship/romance - and the present - Elsie grieving over the loss of Ben and attempting to move on. Having gone through bereavement myself more than once, I found Elsie’s responses both realistic and poignant. I think Taylor Jenkins Reid made a really brave choice in her decision to make Elsie’s thoughts, responses, and reactions so brutally honest. Everyone grieves differently, but I related so much to Elsie’s whole grieving process. She said and thought things that people probably wouldn’t want to admit to saying or thinking while they’re grieving. That feeling of being swallowed by grief and how dare people have the audacity to smile or laugh or carry on living? How dare the world keep turning and the sun keep shining and lives continue on? It’s something that many people have been through and will probably be able to relate to. I loved that the author didn't sugarcoat it; grief isn't pretty, and she wasn't afraid to put it all out there. 

One of the things I loved best about this book was the humour. It was funny in a completely surprising, unexpected way. It really caught me off guard to be crying one moment and laughing the next. Some of it was unintentionally funny - Elsie’s responses to things that wouldn’t typically be funny, but were almost that ‘I know it shouldn’t be funny but it is it’ kind of thing. That levity was the best kind of surprise in such an emotional story.

I pretty much ran the gamut of emotions while reading Forever, Interrupted. There was the incredible sadness at the unfairness of Elsie’s situation, but there was also anger toward Ben’s mother, Susan, and Elsie’s own parents. Even while part of me understood Susan’s attitude, she made me so mad at first. I couldn’t imagine ever warming up to her, but I did. Her grief was as real as Elsie’s, and their interactions were alternately heartbreaking and heartwarming. Then there was the total swoon-factor provided by Ben. The fact that he was so utterly romantic was kind of bittersweet, knowing his fate, but it was also beautiful and had me sighing wistfully several times.

Forever, Interrupted was a love story in every sense of the word: romantic love, familial love, the love between friends. It was beautiful, touching, heartbreaking, engaging, funny, poignant, and romantic. It masterfully wove together the past and present in a way that kept me captivated from beginning to end. As of the time I’m posting this review, it’s been five months since I read Forever, Interrupted, and I still think about it regularly. If that doesn’t tell you that this book is worth reading, let me spell it out for you: this book is a must-read. Forever, Interrupted is a shining debut, and I’m eager to see what Taylor Jenkins Reid does in the future. 

 
 
Have you read Forever, Interrupted? What did you think? How do you feel about books that deal with loss and grief?

 

2 comments:

  1. Wow, I honestly hadn't even heard of this one, Marie! I love that it really took you by surprise, and you're happy you took a chance on it. That's all sorts of awesome, when something you weren't sure if you were going to enjoy sorta sneaks up on you. This one sounds really emotional, but it's so cool you mentioned there's unexpected humor, and that the grieving process is so authentic!

    Definitely added to my TBR.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm not sure it's love, but I get what you mean about thinking about a book long after it's done.

    :-)

    ReplyDelete

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~Marie

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