Tag Archives: Atlanta

Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin

20th March 2012

*I borrowed this book from my local library.

Ok, so I didn’t exactly love the first Emily Giffin book I read. The main character/narrator drove me bonkers, and I just couldn’t sympathize with her selfishness. In fact, I probably never would have picked up this author again except that Elyse from Pop Culture Nerd and I had a pretty long discussion about Sophie Kinsella’s new book I’ve Got Your Number and we mentioned some of what we love about Kinsella. She makes strong heroines who aren’t necessarily going to give up who they are in order to be with a man. That’s a rarity in these types of books. [See my review of 666 Park Avenue.]

When I was at the library last week, I picked up Love the One You’re With and decided to read a few chapters before I fell asleep. This usually goes one of two ways: My eyes get heavy and within two chapters, I put the book down, not because it’s boring but because I’m not that into it or I’m really tired. Or, I stay up until 3 am, not daring to look at the clock, so intense am I on finishing a book. This book definitely fit in the latter category.

Ellen has been married for 100 days exactly when she passes her ex in a New York City crosswalk. The ex with whom she had an extremely intense relationship that broke off with little warning and no further contact. When he calls her and meets up with her in a diner, her heart drops to her stomach, and her knees go weak. This isn’t a normal reaction when you’re a newlywed, right? Ellen feels guilty immediately, going home to her husband Andy and trying to forget about Leo, but it isn’t easy. Leo was her passion, the kind of boyfriend that almost makes a girl self destruct because she cares so much, but the breakup spurred her to begin her successful photography career and to begin dating Andy, her college roommate and best friend Margot’s brother. For a girl from Pittsburgh who lost her mother at age 13, being a Graham is as close to being a Kennedy as a girl can get. The Grahams love Ellen, and they’re quite wealthy, part of Atlanta’s elite.

So why does Ellen fantasize about Leo? And why is she feeling more and more trapped by the family that loves her?

What did I think of Ellen? Ellen is so real. Very often, with chick lit or women’s lit or whatever you want to call it, the girl is with a real loser, and the other guy is so obviously the right choice that you want to smack her upside the head until she realizes the error of her ways. In Love the One You’re With, both of these guys are great, and one of the things Elyse pointed out stuck with me: “If I were her friend, I’d have a hard time giving her advice.” Because the choice to be with either of these men means a very different life and lifestyle for Ellen – not better of worse – just different. Until the end, I was honestly not sure which way Ellen was leaning, and I was ok with that.

What made this book stand apart from other chick lit books? Ellen loves her career. She’s a photographer, and she’s serious about it. She isn’t giving it up because her husband is a wealthy attorney. Plus, there aren’t 20 shopping trips to Barney’s where she spends 2 years of my salary on clothing. In fact, fashion is rarely, if ever, mentioned in the book except to distinguish how Leo and Andy dress. It was so refreshing to find a woman whose every waking breath wasn’t focused on ways to spend her money.

Why does Ellen even think about ditching Andy? Andy is wealthy, and though in many chick lit books, this is the heroine’s pass to spend tons of money on Chanel and Marchesa, Ellen actually sees it as a drawback instead of a bragging point. The couple moves to Atlanta to be closer to Andy’s family, and Ellen feels claustrophobic. She misses New York. She misses the energy she put into her photography because she just doesn’t feel the same way about Atlanta. Plus, she feels pressured to act a certain way or to have certain luxuries that she isn’t really comfortable with. So the problem is really that Andy doesn’t pick up on all of this, more than that there is something really wrong with their relationship.

So who does Ellen choose? Well, I’m certainly not going to divulge that juicy bit of gossip. You’ll just have to read this one yourself, and I highly recommend it.

If anyone has other books that sound like they break the chick lit mold, send me the titles! [pretty please]

Buy this from Indiebound or for your Nook.

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

14th July 2011

*I was lucky enough to get a signed copy of this book from Ms. Jones at BEA11. You can purchase a copy of this book pubbed by Algonquin through Indiebound.

Sometimes it is really, really difficult to write a review. Not because you didn’t like a particular book, but because you did. Silver Sparrow is that book for me, and I have saved about six different drafts of this review. So just know, I loved this book.

******

From the first line, “My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist,” Jones tells a story unlike any other I have read, about Witherspoon’s two daughters – Dana, the “outside” daughter and Chaurisse, the “inside” daughter.

James spends one night a week with Dana and her mom Gwen and the rest of the week with Chaurisse and her mom, Laverne. However, Dana and her mom live with the burden of knowing about James’s other family, while Laverne and Chaurisse have no idea of James’s betrayal. But James’s secret (and quite beautiful) wife and daughter don’t remain a secret for long, and inevitably the two girls meet. Dana Lynn is curious about her counterpart – the girl allowed to be called James Witherspoon’s daughter.  Chaurisse, though, is oblivious to Dana’s relation to her. All she knows is she isn’t “silver” or pretty like Dana, and sometimes Dana has an anger that puzzles Chaurisse.

What Chaurisse doesn’t understand is the true selfishness James shows toward Dana. Once, she comes home with a drawing from elementary school. In it, she draws her daddy and his other family in the foreground and Dana and her mother in the background. Her daddy tells her she can’t draw pictures like that because it’s nobody’s business:

“Your other wife and your other girl is a secret?” I asked him.

He put me down from his lap, so we could look each other in the face. “No. You’ve got it the wrong way around. Dana, you are the one that’s a secret.”

I’m not a momma, but I had some choice words for this man when I read this scene. And maybe that’s why it has been so difficult for me to write this review. Because try as I might, I cannot forget what James Witherspoon did to the women he loves. Yes, Silver Sparrow is a story about love, friendship, sisterhood, loss and growing up, but it is also more than anything, a story of one man’s decision and the women he loves having to painfully come to terms with that choice.

 ******

Read this: immediately/as soon as possible/when you get a chance/eh-if you’re bored

jenn aka the picky girl