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Who Do You Love


Who Do You Love

It's hard to believe that I've gone this long without reading a novel by Jennifer Weiner. The popular author of a dozen books, and the equally outspoken advocate for so-called women's fiction being taken as seriously as works by men, Weiner has become one of the best-known and most beloved authors writing today. And yet, until I picked up her latest effort, I had never read a word of her fiction.

From what I understand, WHO DO YOU LOVE is something of a departure for Weiner, whose earlier fiction has shied away from traditional romances. But this is a good old-fashioned heartstrings-puller, one that readers will happily lose themselves in at the beach (or anywhere else, really).

"...a good old-fashioned heartstrings-puller, one that readers will happily lose themselves in at the beach (or anywhere else, really)."

The book follows a couple from their first meeting --- at the age of eight --- to early middle age, tracing their ups and downs personally and jointly. Rachel Blum was born with a rare heart defect, one that has landed her in hospitals for much of her early childhood. While recovering from her latest surgery at a Miami hospital, she ventures to the emergency room waiting room, where she meets Andy Landis, a boy about her own age, who has broken his arm during a fall from a motel balcony.

Andy, who lives in Philadelphia with his single mom but is on a short vacation in Miami, comes from a background very different from Rachel. Rachel, who's Jewish, lives in a suburban house with a pool, and her mom quit her job to stay home and care for her full-time. Andy's mom, on the other hand, works crazy hours as a beautician, and even then, his clothes come from Goodwill.

But Andy and Rachel have something in common, too: both just want to be seen as normal, especially over the next few years, as they start growing up into young teens. Rachel hates when her mom calls attention to her history of heart problems at her bat mitzvah; Andy, whose dad was black, just wants to feel like he fits in with the other children at school and in his neighborhood, even though neither the black kids nor the white kids fully accept him. Rachel works hard to try to fit in by wearing the right clothes and having the right boyfriends; Andy focuses entirely on becoming the best and fastest runner he can be.

When their paths cross again in high school, Andy and Rachel embark on a tentative long-distance relationship that, in some way or another, continues over the next couple of decades. Their different goals and priorities frequently drive them apart, but just as often, they find themselves drawn back together. Given their tumultuous history, readers might eventually wonder if a real "happily ever after" is even possible for this admittedly odd couple. But they'll certainly want to keep reading to find out.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on August 14, 2015

Who Do You Love
by Jennifer Weiner

  • Publication Date: April 5, 2016
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press
  • ISBN-10: 1451617828
  • ISBN-13: 9781451617825