Taylor was actually the person who introduced me to Taylor Jenkins Reid (her direct quote: Taylor Jenkins Reid could share her grocery list and I would read it. I think that sums up her
obsession dedication); now, I seriously don’t know how I made it so far in my life before reading one of her novels. Once I read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, I immediately started looking for every TJR book that I could find and resigned to having a TBR list that will grow every time she releases a new novel. On that note, grab yourself a drink (I’m going with Menage a Trois Midnight, my book-wine pairing for the week 🍷 ) and let’s talk One True Loves!
One True Loves is a story of impossible circumstances. Emma fell in love with and married her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They moved from Massachusetts to California together, traveled the world, and had such amazing, adventurous jobs. On the night of their first anniversary, Jesse’s helicopter crashes and he is presumed dead. Flash forward 3.5 years: Emma has returned to her hometown, runs her family’s book shop and and is happily engaged to Sam…when she gets the phone call that Jesse is still alive. Unlike a typical love triangle, Emma isn’t just choosing between the men…she’s choosing which person she feels she wants to become. Beneath it all, is she still “Jesse’s girl”, the carefree travel writer filled with Wanderlust that turns to Diet Coke and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s when she has a bad day..or does she want to be the responsible book store owner that loves living close to her family, plays the piano when she’s stressed, and fell in love with Sam?
When I’m reading a story with a love triangle, my first goal is to decide who I’m pulling for. Usually, it’s pretty easy for me, but honestly, I was just as torn as Emma! Jesse is adventurous, encourages her to pursue her dreams even if it requires stepping out of her comfort zone, and they had such amazing chemistry *swoon*! On the other hand, Sam truly seems to be enraptured by her (he has secretly been pining away for her for 18 years), fully understands her romantic history and supports her during the return of Jesse (even though it could cost him a fiancé), and, well, the man can cook *again, swoon*! But let’s be honest, the way to my heart is usually through my stomach, so maybe that tilted the scales in Sam’s favor in my eyes (sorry, Jesse).
My favorite aspect of this story was that it was so much more than a love story. It became a matter of reconciling your past and present selves and figuring out what (if anything) you wish to change moving forward. As a 20-something girl, it really stuck with me. Am I the same today as I was when I was at 18? Thank goodness, the answer is no (a girl’s only meant to see so much eyeliner on her face or distressed jeans in her closet, and it’s safe to say…I
found exceeded that max). Will I be the same when I’m in my 30s? I really highly doubt that (although if my style changes, can I go ahead and request a raise?! I’ll need it to afford a whole new closet-sorry, not sorry). Does that mean that I have to choose between who I was and who I am now?
In case you didn’t guess, I’m giving this one 5 Stars. I truly loved the characters and felt that they were well developed. I also adore TJR’s writing style..in this one novel, you can gather so much about Emma and her emotional state from her “voice”. Finally, I love a beautiful and messy, real and raw love story that will unapologetically make me simultaneously want to bawl my eyes out and smile like a fool. This does all that and more, and leaves you wishing that the story would never end.
==Full Review with Spoilers==
“I don’t think that true love means your only love.
I think true love means loving truly.
Loving purely. Loving wholly.”
In high school, Emma Blair wanted nothing more than to get away from her home town and her family-run bookstore, to have nothing in common with her sister Marie, and to see the world. To say that her relationship with her sister was “strained” was putting it lightly. She even turned down a date with Sam (the cute sophomore that worked at her family’s store) because Marie called him “adorable” and that made him less desirable (sibling rivalry at it’s finest, y’all).
When she is forced to tag along with Marie to a swim meet, she spies Jesse, the superstar of the swim team, a freshman on varsity, all around rock star in the world of high school sports. She crushes from afar (he had a girlfriend at the time), but one day they bump into each other at a party and get arrested together for underage drinking. While in the police station waiting for their parents, he admits to feeling something for her (which she reveals to be mutual), they kiss, and their love story begins (it’s like he took notes from Keith Urban or something).
They dated throughout the remainder of high school, moved to California, found adventurous jobs that took them all over the world (Emma as a travel writer, Jesse as a production assistant for nature documentaries), and got married. Then, on their one year wedding anniversary, Jesse’s helicopter crashes and after weeks of searching he is presumed dead.
When Emma’s world comes undone, she decides to return to her hometown of Acton to live with her parents. At first, she refuses to leave the house. However, over time she starts to find herself again: she moves out of her parents house, actually becomes friends with Marie (something her high school self would never believe), takes on more responsibilities at the family book store and ultimately becomes the manager, cuts/highlights her hair (side note: A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life. -Coco Chanel), and decides to take up playing the piano.
When she goes to purchase her first piano, guess who she runs into? Sam! They decide to grab drinks, then eat burritos (again, Sam and his food steal my heart), and stay out until nearly dawn, walking and talking. They quickly become inseparable and get engaged.
“I am finishing up dinner with my family and my fiancé when my husband calls.”
One night, Emma receives a phone call from Jesse–he’s alive! Emma is caught into a tough spot: she has always loved Jesse and
was is married to him, but she also loves Sam and is engaged to be married to him. After much back and forth on her part, Sam calls off the wedding and tells her to figure out who she wants and that when he wants to hear the answer, he’ll come find her. Sounds like someone wasn’t too optimistic about his chances of getting the girl.
Jesse convinces Emma to go with him to the place where they wed, his parent’s cabin in Maine. The trip starts off hot and heavy, until Jesse (who insisted on driving even though he doesn’t have his license) was pulled over for speeding. This launches an argument that ranges from “you should have waited for me” to “you can’t pretend the past three years didn’t happen”. This ultimately leads to Jesse finally opening up about what happened during his time away and admitting that he is more damaged than he has been letting on. He hoped jumping back into his relationship with Emma like nothing had changed would make it as though the past 3.5 years never happened, even though he is constantly reminded of changes, from the closing of his favorite milkshake spot to the cut/color of Emma’s hair.
They come to the realization that although they consider their love to have been “true love” that was ripped apart, they have also grown apart and should go their separate ways. Emma returns home from their rendezvous to deal with two issues: the resignation of her assistant manager and her new realization that she wants to spend the rest of her life with Sam.
At the advice of her family, she decides hire Marie for the assistant manager position and to go against Sam’s wishes and find him to tell him she chose him. Poor, poor Sam was convinced when he saw her that he needed to fight to win her back, but was pleasantly surprised that she chose to him.
As for Jesse? He stayed in touch with Emma via postcards, and one day called to tell her that he met someone new, a surfer girl named Britt. Hey TJR, can this be your next story?! I’m dying to know what happened to our favorite lost boy!
And everyone lives happily ever after (at least, to my knowledge!).
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this book. Who was your pick between Jesse and Sam? And who else is dying to know what happens with Jesse and Britt?!
Until next time, I’m still sipping and reading my way through September! -Kaylie