One True Loves is a pleasingly profound and deeply thoughtful tale of unconditional love and unexpected second changes.
In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.
On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.
Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.
That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.
Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?
Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.
I’m not a love triangle fan. They’re often messy and contain too much betrayal for me to find them entertaining. But I am a Taylor Jenkins Reid fan, she’s on the auto-buy authors list, so One True Loves was always going to be on my radar. And as expected, it is a gripping read, with plenty of charisma, and adorable bookstore, and a love triangle trope that is masterfully executed. This emotional rollercoaster kept me reading through the night!
Reid’s writing is a sincere comfort in One True Loves. It has a familiarity that I appreciate from her other romances like Maybe in Another Life, and I look forward to revisiting another one of her wonderfully crafted worlds in future reads. Taylor Jenkins Reid writes with a relatable wit that I think shines through her characters, particularly the protagonist. I love that while Emma’s big decision between Jesse and Sam plays a centre role in the narrative, we get to know her personality and thinking through backstories and family affairs. It also really helps to develop and explain the changes grief and repairing force her to make.
I am perfectly still but feel as if I’m caught in a riptide, barely able to see how I can get my head out and above the water.
The atmosphere in One True Loves is enamouring from start to finish. While Emma is still in high school, you can connect with her anxieties and inner battles. As she lives a life of wildness and freedom in her 20’s with Jesse, you enjoy the wanderlust their travels create. Then as she moves back to Massachusetts and grows close to Sam in her 30’s, you appreciate the calm and cosy, small town ambience it brings. As a result, I found it really easy to understand with Emma, even when she made smaller decisions I didn’t agree with. And the arc Reid has created for this character will be a memorable one for me. Emma finds herself in an impossibly difficult position, and as you naturally ponder over her circumstances, consider her options the way she does, and face the significances she faces, you feel every shred of emotion with her.
One True Loves made me laugh, cry, and gasp in exactly the places Reid intended. The story is both heart-warming and heart-wrenching as it vindicates Emma’s life with Jesse as well as Emma’s life with Sam. A poignant highlight is the way grief and trauma are portrayed. It reminds us that both can be all-consuming, but neither have to be everlasting. The novel underlines the importance of healing and learning to love the person we evolve into, which doesn’t mean we are totally abandoning all that we once were. That aspect is projected through Emma’s emotional development and maturity. As expected, One True Loves sets out to define true love, whether it is something that is unreservedly powerful or in fact influenced by the phases and seasons life brings.
I don’t think that true love means your only love.
I think true love means loving truly.
Loving purely. Loving wholly.
I adore the romance and bonds in this book. In a similar way to Maybe in Another Life, One True Loves offers an honest depiction of attachments between family, friends, and lovers. Emma’s relationship with her sister, Marie, is particularly notable as it not only contributes to the protagonist’s expansion, but also serves as a voice of reason above the tragedy. Plus, I’m a sucker for a sister-sister relationship and appreciate how realistic their interactions are from adolescence to adulthood.
While I love the way the narrative plays out (even the inconceivability of surviving after years lost over the Pacific), I do wish more attention was paid to the pace towards the end. The foundation is nicely constructed, you get to know the characters well, but once a decision is made the story’s rhythm starts to unnaturally hasten before it wraps up. Despite its shattering moments, this book is an ease to read. It’s cathartic in the way it portrays grief, has dreamy romance, charming dialogue, and well-developed characters with accounts that are easy to invest in.
I can’t wait to see this story on the big screen!