First Comes Love (★★★★☆)

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Emily Giffin   *   Ballantine Books   *   June 28, 2016   *   400 Pages

Advanced Reader Copy provided by publisher through Net Galley.

Josie and Meredith are sisters, and though they love each other very much, their relationship is…tense. Josie teaches young kids and has a fun, sweet side. But she also tends to be hot-headed, whiney, and self-involved. Meredith is a responsible, yet dissatisfied, stay-at-home mom, and though she’s grateful for her seemingly perfect life, she’s also secretly feeling crushed by the weight of keeping it all together. The book is told from both their perspectives (in alternating chapters) and follows them as they struggle to work through their issues with each other, their family, their significant others (or ex-significant others), and with themselves.

I’ve read almost all of Giffin’s books. I like her style, overall. She knows how to create engaging characters and a fun, readable story. Her books always seem to fly by for me. First Comes Love is no exception. I enjoyed reading it. I was caught up in the story and felt entertained the entire time.

However, there are definitely some shortcomings to this one. First of all, Josie and Meredith, as characters, are so extreme. Josie starts out at least somewhat strong and balanced, but then quickly devolves into a crazy, self-centered mess. And Meredith is such the cliche dissatisfied stay-at-home mom–so cold, tense, and distant–it’s borderline unbelievable. Josie ended up irritating me a lot, and Meredith kind of just bored me. Plus, the constant friction in their relationship was overdone. They insist on having constant contact with each other in the book, but they are always so mean and defensive with each other. It just got old.

I also didn’t like how whole major plot lines are never wrapped up. There’s this huge build up in the first half of the book about Josie’s ex-boyfriend, Will. But that relationship just disappears about 2/3 through–like suddenly it isn’t important anymore, even though Josie obsessed about it for the first 100+ pages. And the same thing with Josie and Pete in the end. I mean, where does that go? Where can it go?

And yet! I still liked reading First Comes Love. There are some lacking moments, sure, but I never wanted to stop reading. It’s not a perfect story, but it was fun enough to lose myself in for a while. That has to count for something.

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