I was so excited when I learned that Emily Giffin had come out with a new book because I felt like it had been quite a while, and then I realized that I missed ONE WHOLE BOOK FROM HER! Sooo embarrassing.
Anywho, First Comes Love is definitely better and more interesting than the last Giffin I read. An Atlanta family is torn apart by their only son getting killed in a car accident right before Christmas, and 15 years later they’re all still completely broken from it and only just starting to deal with certain aspects of it. Meredith, the younger daughter, is not at all happy in her marriage to her deceased brother’s former best friend, and she absolutely loves her daughter Harper but doesn’t always love being a mom. Conversely, older daughter Josie so desperately wants to be a mom that she’s decided to give up on regular old dating and get pregnant via sperm donor. This decision, among many others of Josie’s, further drives an already existing wedge between Meredith and Josie, who didn’t get along all that great before their brother’s untimely death. (The parents in the family got a divorce soon after the accident, and the father went back to his pre-accident alcoholic tendencies, but the book doesn’t focus on the parents nearly as much as it should have.)
While Meredith tries to figure out what to do about her marriage via confiding in her one friend Ellen, listening to her therapist, and even taking a soul-searching trip to her old stomping grounds in Manhattan, Josie tries to decide on a donor for her baby. At first she wants an anonymous man from a catalog, then she considers an online dating specimen who turns out to be a really great friend and possibly more, and finally her best friend and roommate of about 15 years volunteers his little swimmers. Josie’s absolute failure to recognize how absurdly complicated it would be to have a child with someone you’re sort-of dating OR very good friends with is a little hard to cope with as a reader, and it makes you really understand why Meredith is so mad at her for it, and other reasons.
I definitely identify with Meredith a bit more than Josie anyway, though, because of her general moodiness for sometimes no reason (which I am certainly familiar with), and I very much appreciate a big part of her story: Presenting a perfectly filtered and cleverly captioned life on social media while battling a whole lot of ugly sh!t in real life, which I think happens way more than we even realize these days. I also very much appreciate how Giffin treats Meredith’s complicated relationship with her husband as a complete grey area in progress, not just black (divorce) and white (happily ever after), even leaving it quite hanging at the end. Everything does not wrap up with a neat little bow, but it does wrap up with potential and possibility.
And now, I must eliminate my embarrassment and read The One and Only!