This is going to be a tough review for me to write. I was very excited about reading this book…but, honestly, I probably couldn’t have read this at a worse time in my life. When After I Do first came out, I started comparing it in my mind to Landline by Rainbow Rowell, which is a book that I recently read and loved. I wasn’t sure if they were exactly similar, but I knew that they both dealt with failing marriages, so I anticipated that reading After I Do would be a similar experience to what I went through with Landline.
Over the past 8 months or so, my boyfriend (of 3.5 years) and I have been dealing with some relationship problems of our own, so the messages and realities of Landline really struck a nerve with me and reading that book was a very important and meaningful experience for me. But recently we’ve started to do a lot better. We’ve done a lot of work on our relationship and I feel like we’re in a totally different place than we were even a month or two ago. So now that we’ve sort of “come out the other side,” it was difficult to connect with the story of After I Do, because I so badly wanted to distance myself from what the characters were going through.
Overall, the message of this book is wonderful. I really tried to take that for what it was worth and connect to that part of it. But having to almost-first-hand experience the difficult struggles in the relationship between Lauren and Ryan was seriously hard for me to stomach. After I Do is extremely well written and very relatable — it just wasn’t what I wanted to be reading about.
And then…when I was halfway through the book, our 3-year-old cat passed away suddenly. So I spent the slightly happier second half of the book absolutely heartbroken. It’s just not how this book should’ve been read. I can say with almost absolutely certainty, that if I’d read this book at a slightly different time in my life — maybe a few months or weeks ago — I probably would’ve loved it. It probably would’ve become an all-time favorite. It truly is a really special book that I think so many people will be able to relate to and enjoy. Unfortunately for me, it just wasn’t in the cards.
But I was still able to get quite a bit out of it, which I think, in itself, speaks for how powerful this book is, because I wouldn’t have been surprised to have gotten absolutely nothing out of it after our cat’s passing. But my copy of this book (which I won in a giveaway — thanks, Hannah @ So Obsessed With!) is filled to the brim with little sticky notes marking my favorite passages! I even read a few out loud to Brent and he loved them, too.
I appreciated the beauty and humanness of this book so much. I loved the quotable lines and memorable statements made that will probably end up sticking their way into my brain and staying with me for a long time to come. Ultimately, I just couldn’t rate this book 5 stars, because I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as it deserved to be enjoyed…but clearly that was through no fault of the book’s. I did really like it, though, and I highly recommend After I Do, especially if you’re in a marriage or long-term relationship, and I hope to one day be able to come back to this and give it another try when I’m at a different point in my life.