Published by Gallery Books on April 10, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Love, loss, friendship, and the betrayals of the past all collide in this first fiction novel from New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Autoboyography, Dating You / Hating You).
The story of the heart can never be unwritten.
Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.
But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother...only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.
Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.
Hmmm… this one was a bit of a struggle for me. Despite the entire book being from Macy’s POV, I never felt like we really got to know her at all. It was mentioned multiple times that she’s a pediatric doctor, but we never see her at work or even talking generally about her patients, so that almost seemed like more of a hobby than anything else. Everything we get from her, which is literally the entire book, is superficial and glossed over.
The book switches back and forth between Macy and Elliot’s teenage romance and Macy’s adult life. Full disclosure because I know this is a thing for some people – Macy is in a relationship when the book opens. She never technically cheats on her fiance, but her feelings for Elliot lead directly to her realization that she wants out of her engagement. Literally instantly. She sees him in a coffee shop for the first time since she was a teenager, and realizes immediately that she needs out of her relationship with…. the guy who was such a non-entity that I can’t even remember his name. Sam? Simon? Something like that. Apparently they met, she went home with him the first night, and in the morning when his daughter said “Do you live here now?” Macy said “I don’t know, I guess” and just stayed. Which….. no.
The parts in the past, from when Elliot and Macy were teenagers seemed fine. They were typically dramatic, as most teenage relationships are. (I don’t read a ton of YA because I absolutely hate remembering this time in my life. Everything is so dramatic, everything is so painful. It’s terrible)
I just didn’t feel the connection in the present day parts of the book. Marcy and Elliot hadn’t seen each other in 11 years. From 17, 18 to 28, 29. Most people at 28 or 29 are unrecognizable from the people they were in their late teens. And that’s how it should be. I can only imagine running into my high school boyfriend in my late twenties. I would have been horrified. Macy and Elliot were still in love with the other’s teenage self, and decided they had to be together again before they even got to know each other as adults.
The other big, big Nope from me was the incident that broke them up. This is spoilery, so stop reading if you don’t want to know. On New Year’s Eve, Macy was at a party with her dad, Elliot was at a party with his friends, and he got really, really drunk. Emma, a girl who’d had a crush on him for years, snuck into his bed after he passed out, pretended to be Macy, and had sex with him. Macy showed up, saw them naked in bed together, and ran out of the room. When they discuss this incident, it’s as adults, since they never laid eyes on each other again after this. She wouldn’t take his calls or see him, never went back to the lake house, and then had a pretty big trauma herself, so that was it. So they see each other, Elliot says, “I got super drunk, had sex with Emma because she said she was you”, and that’s it. That’s the only discussion they have about it. No one seems to want to unpack the fact that Elliot was date raped and never accepted or dealt with it. The rape led directly to him losing the one person he wanted in his life, but it’s never discussed, never dealt with, never even named as what it was. This is a pretty sloppy and frankly irresponsible handling of this situation.
Overall, I don’t think I can recommend this one. The writing was fine, there wasn’t anything offensive with it, but I just didn’t like the split YA/Adult setup, and I really didn’t like the Elliot situation at the end. This is my 2nd Christina Laurens, and my 2nd didn’t-quite-work-for-me, so I don’t know if I’ll try anything else by them.