Thursday, 31 March 2016

Book Review - Who do You Love by Jennifer Weiner

Amazon UK
Title:  Who do You Love
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 27th August 2015
Rating: 3 Stars

Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are eight years old when they meet late one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she's intrigued by the boy who shows up all alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy's taken back to the emergency room and Rachel's sent back to her bed, they think they'll never see each other again. 

Rachel, the beloved, popular, and protected daughter of two doting parents, grows up wanting for nothing in a fancy Florida suburb. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent that will let him become one of the best runners of his generation. 

Over the course of three decades, through high school and college, marriages and divorces, from the pinnacles of victory and the heartbreak of defeat, Andy and Rachel will find each other again and again, until they are finally given a chance to decide whether love can surmount difference and distance and if they've been running toward each other all along.

I'm normally very happy to read a Jennifer Weiner book, I've read quite a few in the past and loved them, but unfortunately this one has left me flat. There were lots of promising threads in it, some potentially very interesting storylines, but I felt they weren't really examined in depth. 

Unfortunately I also found Rachel and Andy (to a less extent) were slightly exaggerated stereotypes, especially in most of their teenage and young adult feelings and meetings with each other. Rachel is without a doubt a sheltered Jewish Princess, and having met loads of those in real life, I know they just rub me up the wrong way. There are of course good reasons for Rachel to act that way, but apart from a very touching section when she was 8 years old, most of the time you forget about her childhood ill health, and taking her as she is was really annoying. 

Andy on the other hand is a child that doesn't fit in due to his race. He lives in a poor part of the country, with a single mom and after getting into a bit of trouble as a child, discovers he has a real talent and passion for athletics. 

From Rachel and Andy's first meeting as 8 year olds, you can't help but feel there is something special between them, and as the book progresses, you see them a at various stages of their lives and greater relationship, always thinking of the other, and I found myself getting frustrated that the second things were getting good, one or other would mess up and it would be back to square one. 

The story is told, in chronological order, with the viewpoint alternating between Rachel and Andy. I found Andy's story a lot more interesting and he had some very interesting decisions to make. I thought Rachel just seemed to go along with things for an easier life, and in some of the scenes, I could either see myself, or various friends and family in her. 

Although I thought Rachel may be quite stereotypical, there were still elements in her I really liked, and thought she had a very big and kind heart,  who truly cares about other people. Andy on the other hand really just grew on me although towards the end I really felt like shouting at one specific moment (which is quite topical in recent years, and potentially be very topical by the time the Olympics rolls around). 

The story was nicely written, it kept flowing even if I thought some of the sections should have perhaps been fleshed out more, while others could have possibly been a bit sharper.  Unfortunately I don't think its the best book Jennifer Weiner has written, but I will be looking on in interest at her next release. 

Thanks to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

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