Love the One You’re With

I just finished reading Emily Giffin’s bestselling book entitled “Love the One You’re With.” It was recommended to me, and because one of my reviewers sweetly said on Amazon, “Move over Emily Giffin, Stephanie Verni’s in town,” which is very funny and flattering, I had to finally see for myself what Emily Giffin’s writing is all about. I’ve never read a thing written by her.

I’m not one to chastise another writer’s writing. Seriously, I’ve written one novel, and she’s written, like … many. So who am I to judge? We all have our own styles and techniques. However, one notable was that her references to pop culture were starting to get to me about 30% into the novel, and I almost put it down, but I stayed with it. I’m glad I did because after a bit, it started to take off. Something changed. The characters became more complicated and more interesting, and I actually wanted to see what was going to happen to Ellie, Margot, Leo, Suzanne, and Andy.

Ms. Giffin toyed with me. Then, she did something near the end that totally surprised me. In the midst of this very modern, “made for girls book” with New York and contemporary references abounding, she said something so poignant, it made me stop and reread it several times. It was this passage that won me over:

“…Sometimes there are no happy endings. No matter what, I’ll be losing something, someone.

But maybe that’s what it all comes down to. Love, not as a surge of passion, but as a choice to commit to something, someone, no matter what obstacles or temptations stand in the way. And maybe, making that choice, again and again, day in and day out, year after year, says more about love than never having a choice to make at all.” (Emily Giffin, from “Love the One You’re With,” St. Martin’s Griffin, New York)

I’ve thought about this paragraph several times over the last few days. And as someone who’s infatuated with the idea of love, I adore the way Ms. Giffin wrote about our decisions with regard to it. Love is about choice; it is about commitment; it is about the day in and day out struggle of finding meaning in it all. And, it’s about getting love in return. If you’ve ever been in love with someone who didn’t love you back the way you deserved to be loved back, you know exactly what I’m talking about, right?

I happened to feel a particular connection to this passage. And isn’t that what reading is all about? For me, it’s not always about reading “remarkable literature,” but rather about making and finding a connection to the characters, their situations, and knowing that someone understands the way I feel or have felt. When I can connect in this manner, reading is a pleasure.

I must have ended up enjoying the novel quite a bit, because I know I’ll be thinking about that passage for days to come.

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