Love the One You’re With – Emily Giffin

Emily Giffin is really popular, I guess, but I’d never read her. I’m a huge consumer of chick flicks, but not much of a reader of chick lit. I tend to like my fiction a little grittier and heroines in these sorts of books almost always settle – at least in my view.

Not even a full year after she’s married upstanding and handsome lawyer, Andy, (who also happens to be the older brother of her best friend, Margot), Ellen runs into Leo crossing a busy Manhattan street. Leo is “the one who got away” although in this instance, it’s more like the one who fizzled away. Ellen is sent into a tailspin of memories and she indulges every one of them, glossing over how Leo was kind of a schmuck at the end of their relationship.

Okay – so far I’m with you Ellen. I mean, seriously, who hasn’t had the same sort of intense relationship – the one where you’re up all night…um…talking? But Ellen has moved on from all that. Now she’s a successful photographer and Andy, he’s a great guy. She hasn’t settled. At least she doesn’t think she’s settled until Leo comes crashing back into her life.

And that’s when my cell phone rang and I heard his voice. A voice I hadn’t hears in eight years and sixteen days.

“Was that really you? he asked me. His voice was even deeper than I remembered, but otherwise it was like stepping back in time. Like finishing a conversation only hours old.

“Yes,” I said.

Oh, Ellen. Don’t go down that road. But we all do. We all wonder about the might have beens and question the choices we make. Ellen’s marital bliss is about to get bumpy as she hides her reunion from her husband and best friend, and then makes all sorts of minor adjustments to the truth so she can sort through her feelings for Leo.

The truth, it turns out, is more complicated than it appears on the surface. And so is the first year of any marriage. When Ellen and Andy move to Atlanta to be closer to Andy’s family, sister Margot included, Ellen is further tested.

I’ll give Giffin props; Love the One You’re With isn’t sheer fluff because Ellen is a character who is deeply conflicted about her feelings even though she never doubts her love for her husband and the life they’re building together. The new improved Leo is worth a second look, but Ellen is also mature enough to know what the consequences of taking that leap of faith might be.

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