I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is June 28, 2016.
Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond. Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover they need each other more than they knew . . . and that in the recipe for true happiness, love always comes first.
I have been a fan of Emily Giffin's work for a while, so I was excited about this one. But it's hard to like a book where you despise both of the main characters.
Let's start with what I did like: the setting of Atlanta. I grew up outside Atlanta so I just loved the references. My favorite was when they talked about Cracker Barrel and Meredith ordered the chicken dumplings. Yes, they are a bowl of starch as Meredith described but they are SO GOOD. Seriously, I started drooling just thinking about their chicken dumplings and butter biscuits. Amazing. I also loved that Josie decided to take charge of her own life and try to get a baby, even without a man. She was really independent and she went after exactly what she wanted. That was one character trait I loved about Josie. I also liked the portrayal of friendship between a straight girl and a straight guy (Gabe). They had a great friendship and it is so rare to see that kind of friendship in books, where the man and the woman genuinely feel no attraction towards each other.
Meredith and Josie drove me completely batty. They fought about absolutely EVERYTHING. It was the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. And let me say that I do have a sister and we have a far more complicated relationship than Meredith and Josie. My sister is actually very selfish (unlike Jose, but we'll get to that in a second) and I disagree with so much of what she does on a daily basis. But here's the thing: since we are both in our 30's, we have learned to be civil to each other and sometimes we even have fun together. One thing we don't do is start a fight with EVERY SINGLE CONVERSATION. God, these two women acted like children every time they were together. Even Josie saying something on the phone like, "I guess I'll let you go." was enough to bring out a bitchy response from Meredith.
And then there was Josie's decision to have a baby on her own. Meredith was so judgmental and said that Josie was selfish for making that decision. Another thing I really didn't understand was that Meredith said Josie's baby would eventually become HER burden and that Josie was not ready to be a mother because she wasn't responsible at all. I have no idea where that came from. Josie had her own job, she supported herself, she didn't appear to make any selfish decisions, so where was this idea that Josie was totally irresponsible coming from? Meredith's insane jealousy, that's where.
Josie was not as irritating a character as Meredith, but she came close. I don't understand her very first date with Pete. She just decides before going in that it will be her last date ever because she wants a baby and she refuses to even give him a chance. Seriously? Okay, have a baby if you want but to totally dismiss Pete after one conversation was a bit much, especially since they had a lot of great banter going on. But of course, he ended up sticking around (kind of), so it was fine.
The whole brother dying thing was just overdone and I felt no emotion from it. Their brother, Daniel, died fifteen years ago. I get that losing a brother would be hard, but it was FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. It seemed like Meredith and Josie used his death as an excuse for every bad decision they ever made and I didn't buy it. And they got pissed off that his girlfriend at the time didn't spend her entire life mourning him. There were also a couple of subplots that never really went anywhere. First, there was their dad's alcoholism. First, they said he started drinking a lot more after Daniel's death but then they said he was already an alcoholic before that. But they never really did anything with his alcoholism so I don't understand why it was mentioned. Then there was Josie acting like a brat about Gabe's girlfriend, Leslie. Leslie didn't even do anything and Josie was acting like a jealous girlfriend or something with all of her cattiness. But that jealousy disappeared as quickly as it came and no one ever did anything with that either. So what was the point?
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Skip this one.