Sometimes I just want to read something light, fun, not too intense, something that doesn’t require me to invest a lot of energy while still giving me pleasure. Thus, when I picked up Emily Griffin’s book Love the One You’re With, I thought this was just what I was getting – something fun and interesting to listen to in the car. The book was certainly interesting, but I wouldn’t say it was fun – at least not for me. But more than most books about relationships, this one got me really fired up. I was mad, elated, sentimental, happy . . . and imagine my surprise when I regailed Dave – the master of all books thrilled-oriented – with the plot because it had so seeped into my consciousness.
The basic gist of the book is that a woman named Ellen is a newlywed; her husband Andy is the brother of her best friend, and overall, life seems to be going pretty well. The couple lives in New York, where Ellen is a photographer and Andy a lawyer. One day, Ellen runs into her ex-boyfriend Leo on a street corner, and this chance encounter sets her reeling as she tries to figure out why she can’t put Leo out of her mind. The plot unfolds with her making choices about Leo and Andy that take her on quite the emotional journey, one on which she pulls everyone she loves.
I think this book stirred me up so much for a couple of reasons. First, the emotional honesty in the novel is quite profound. Ellen admits things (the book is in first person) that most of us won’t admit, and yet, even in her honest discussion, she is still clearly confused and deluded. Secondly, as a divorcee who has analyzed her previous marriage to death in an attempt to understand and not make the same mistakes, I have experienced some of the same emotions Ellen has – confusion, desperation, indignation, fear, sadness – so I think the book pushed me into those feelings again.
At the end of the novel, I must say that I felt better – not just because of the plot’s resolution – but also because I had, all along, known the right thing and understand what the wrong things were. There’s a little guilty pleasure in being superior to a character in a book, I suppose.
I do recommend this one to people who are in relationships (is there anyone out there that’s not?) because it does parse through them so honestly. Just don’t read this if you’re in the midst of a bad break-up or in the middle of that blissful time of love. Save it for those time when life seems right but not perfect. Then, you’ll have the space to think while you read.