Listen, I want to be Taylor Jenkins Reid trash. I want to love every single one of her books, have them all displayed on a pretty shelf, and proudly claim she is my favorite author. But friends, as a good group of pals (The Rolling Stones) once said: you can’t always get what you want.
One True Loves is a good book. In fact, I liked it, but I can’t help but be disappointed that I couldn’t rate it five stars. See, we follow Emma Blair in a before and after. Before , when she was married in her twenties to high school sweetheart Jesse, and After when she’s a thirty year old widow engaged to Sam. After two messy years of mourning and grief it looks like things are looking up for Emma. That is until she receives a call her husband Jesse is alive. As a result, Emma must figure out who her one true love is.
The concept is there, but for a novel of this size, it’s also too far-fetched. I appreciate the conversation it starts about how the person you are in a set of years is not the same person you will be in the future. As a result, your “soulmate” fluctuates as you grow and develop. Honestly, I truly love this notion because I know it could be so beneficial for lovebirds out there feeling stuck in a relationship simply because they have shared history.
However, I think that’s where the plot should’ve remained. Bringing in this whole “I thought my husband was dead, but he’s really not” telenovela-like part of the equation muddles the rest of the story. When Reid introduces the struggles Emma’s husband Jesse endured in the midst of surviving and the trauma after, I felt like it was a different book altogether. I think it could’ve been a much stronger story, certainly more developed, if Emma doubted the concept of a one true love while in the midst of a relationship. In other words, I felt like Jesse’s disappearance and resurrection were unnecessary.
Secondly, there was the issue of the writing style. I found the first hundred pages difficult to read as it felt overly descriptive. What I mean is there were frequent descriptions of clothing and physical appearance in a stilted sort of way. We would be in the middle of a thought process, action, or conversation and suddenly Emma felt the need to detail what the person was wearing when it added nothing to the story. However, when I switched over to the audiobook I was able to get through the rest of the story in one sitting.
Finally I had a few issues with the characters. For one, I felt that each relationship lacked chemistry. As readers we were presented with one single exchange of dialogue, and then flash forward Emma and Jesse are happily married and in love. The same thing happened with Sam, there were a few exchanges of conversation, and then bam they were in love and engaged. Truthfully, I never bought either relationship even though the characters felt real. As a result, I never rooted for either one and overall felt indifferent to who she’d end up with.
Also, one of the main things I love about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is the representation. It’s not often I encounter Latinx characters in books, and even less often are they main characters much less renowned movie stars. However, in One True Loves almost everyone is white with the exception of Olive, who in the end felt more or less like a forced character. I don’t know I guess part of me was hoping for a little more of the diversity Reid delivered in her future novel.
Overall, this is not a bad book. I think this would appeal to a vast amount of people, but as someone who’s read more of Reid’s potential as a writer, I was disappointed. Although, it’s important to note this is one of her earlier novels, but even so if this were my first encounter with her work I don’t think I would’ve been all that impressed.