The essence of love – the beautiful and tragic, the extraordinary and the mundane – revealed with such finesse and poignancy, that reading this book is an experience as painful as it is incandescent.
What do we each bring to our relationships – our loves – but decades of patterns, old hurts, yearnings and the complicated misguided lessons learned from our childhood (that may or may not have once served us well, but are certainly now well past their prime) .
Meet Ben and June. A young couple, deeply in love, struggling and supporting, second-guessing and holding back as much as they are willing to confess (or may even be aware of), doing their utmost to live their best lives – together – (whatever that may mean), in care of each other and in service of the dreams they believe they ultimately share.
As June, a lifelong dancer, auditions tirelessly for an opening in a contemporary dance company (her childhood dream), and Ben, a M&A lawyer, works around-the-clock to service miserable clients and their meaningless mergers – the unimaginable happens.
What is left of love – when your own identity, still wobbly and largely unformed, (as both an individual and a partner) is suddenly in the terrifying and unpredictable driver’s seat, responsible for the nurturance of an entirely new being?
How does one bond with the little one, when “withered by guilt and incompetency”, you are “struggling just to keep up with the basics.”
When life is an off-the-tracks-train-wreck – as you find yourself working (because someone has to) so hard and so desolately that the “scent of (your) wife feels uncomfortably Iike a memory”.
With subtle and heartbreaking insight, the author unpacks and lays bare the earthshaking, life-toppling changes brought to a relationship through childbirth – which cannot be predicted, (or even, for that matter, managed), layered on top of an already-tottering-and-entirely-outwardly-validated relationship barometer – a precipice destined for not only disaster, but cataclysmic soul-crushing despair.
“Love isn’t enough. Not when you’re drowning.”
“Maybe that’s just what marriage is. Just constantly over and under-estimating your partner, seeing them through your own gaze, never quite seeing them for who they really are..”
I loved this book, – the dynamics of the main relationship, Ben and June, captured so brilliantly – weighed down with so much that is brutal and unforgiving (grief, lack of sleep, hormones, shame, parental baggage, cruel neighbors, self-judgement, mental illness, poor communication, terror) – and at its heart so tender and heart-tugging that (we must believe) love is still present, still worth fighting for, if it can just be released and set free again.
A great big thank you to #Netgalley and #HarperCollinsCa for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.