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This Love Story Will Self-Destruct


This Love Story Will Self-Destruct

Leslie Cohen’s debut novel, THIS LOVE STORY WILL SELF-DESTRUCT, is garnering plenty of comparisons with the writing of Nora Ephron. With its vivid New York City setting, its whiff of pathos, and its characters who stumble toward happiness despite their best efforts at self-sabotage, the book does seem ripe for adaptation as a screenplay for a winning romantic comedy film.

It’s also, however, a novel very much of its time, about how challenging it can be for young people today to decide when a romantic relationship goes beyond merely hooking up and might need to be defined as something else, something more. The fear and uncertainty that accompany this shift in perspective is one of the driving forces behind the book, as is the lingering distrust and uncertainty of a generation who grew up in the wake of 9/11.

"Cohen’s debut is a traditional romance with a contemporary twist, a truly 21st-century love story that’s as complex and challenging as the times in which it’s set."

Eve is one of those kids, whose mother worked in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. She has navigated high school and college (at Columbia) with only the guidance of her clueless stepdad and easygoing younger sister, as well as a loose-knit group of girlfriends. Eve wants to become a music journalist, despite having little to no expertise in music. And even though she herself is very well put together, she has a tendency to attract (and be attracted to) men who are as damaged and lost as she feels inside.

Maybe that’s why Eve never paid much attention to Ben, an engineering student at Columbia whose own group of friends constantly crossed paths with Eve. Ben never made much of an impression on Eve --- and what would they have in common, anyway? --- until, after graduation, a bad breakup and a stint in Colorado, Eve returns to New York City and just might be ready for something different.

A chance encounter starts the two talking, and Eve realizes that she might have underestimated Ben, whose unique outlook on the world and surprising insights into New York City neighborhoods and landmarks (he’s a structural engineer on the Freedom Tower project) have her looking at the city with fresh eyes, too. At first, Eve, especially, is tentative, unsure whether she can trust herself with a relationship that seems so normal, so safe. But just as she’s letting herself do just that, she learns that Ben has been keeping a secret, and her trust is shattered all over again.

Chapters are told from both Eve’s and Ben’s points of view, though since Ben’s perspective isn’t introduced until later in the novel, the narrative really feels primarily like Eve’s story. Nevertheless, readers are offered insights into both characters’ backgrounds, their family and romantic histories, their fears, and what draws them to the other, making THIS LOVE STORY WILL SELF-DESTRUCT feel very intimate and personal. Ben and Eve’s tumultuous love story plays out against the backdrop of New York City, especially the East Village, which is described with nearly as much fondness and detail as if it is itself another character.

As the book’s title suggests, Cohen’s debut is a traditional romance with a contemporary twist, a truly 21st-century love story that’s as complex and challenging as the times in which it’s set.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on January 26, 2018

This Love Story Will Self-Destruct
by Leslie Cohen

  • Publication Date: January 23, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Romance, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • ISBN-10: 1501168533
  • ISBN-13: 9781501168536