Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner
Published by Atria Books
From the publisher:
Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are eight years old when they meet late one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she’s intrigued by the boy who shows up all alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy’s taken back to the emergency room and Rachel’s sent back to her bed, they think they’ll never see each other again.
Rachel, the beloved, popular, and protected daughter of two doting parents, grows up wanting for nothing in a fancy Florida suburb. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent that will let him become one of the best runners of his generation.
Over the course of three decades, through high school and college, marriages and divorces, from the pinnacles of victory and the heartbreak of defeat, Andy and Rachel will find each other again and again, until they are finally given a chance to decide whether love can surmount difference and distance and if they’ve been running toward each other all along.
I mentioned last week that I needed a book to sweep me up, to hold my interest from page one, something to break this streak I’ve been on of not being able to finish a book. Well, Who Do You Love turned out to be that exact book. This novel is not perfect, but it was perfect for what I needed, so I absolutely loved it. LOVED it.
What initially drew me into the story was how I saw myself in Rachel – I, too, was born with a congenital heart defect and spent a lot of time as a kid in the hospital. I have a scar on my chest from my own open-heart surgeries that matches the one Rachel describes in the book (although I’ve never been ashamed of mine or felt the need to cover it up). And once I got to know Andy, I saw myself in him as well – I, too, grew up with not much in the way of money or material possessions, I was the kid with the secondhand clothes, I was the kid who didn’t fit in with my more well-off classmates. I think the fact that I identified so strongly with both of the main characters really connected me to their story.
Besides my personal connections to both Rachel and Andy, I loved the two of them together. I loved their love story, fragmented and spaced out as it was. Theirs is a love that spanned years, and physical distance, and scandals, and all kinds of tension and challenges. Just when you think their story as a couple is over … just wait, because theirs is the kind of love that stands the test of time. Who doesn’t love to read about love like that?
Jennifer Weiner consistently writes relationships so well – between parents and children, romantic relationships, friendships, etc. She also creates these characters that are flawed but essentially good people who you’d want to have as friends in real life. All of her books are this way, and it’s something I’ve come to rely on her to provide when I pick up one of her books. I knew that this novel would be one I’d fly through, but to say that I loved it, especially when it’s been so hard for me to get into a book lately, well that’s an accomplishment. I couldn’t put this novel down and it was exactly what I needed at this exact moment in time. As I said, maybe not a perfect novel in every way, but perfect for me, for right now. So much love for Who Do You Love!