Who Do You Love is the latest work from NYT Bestseller and Twitter superstar, Jennifer Weiner who I have been reading faithfully since her first book, Good in Bed. This book is absolutely classic Weiner – flawed but believable characters who learn to love themselves before they can love others. This one is about Rachel and Andy who meet in a Florida ER when they’re 8 years old.
Rachel is a upper middle class Jewish girl who is in the hospital because she was born with a “broken heart” which required a lot of surgeries thoughout her young life. She is beloved by her family, doted on by her mother in particular. The hospital is a home for her – her room is full of trinkets and toys, markers of an economically privileged family even if she was born to an early life of suffering.
Andy, on the other hand, is there because he was left alone in a hotel room while on vacation with his single mother. He’s sitting alone, nursing a broken arm because no one can find his mother. When she does finally show up, readers know immediately who she is – a woman who is out of her depth in parenting solo and even 8 years later isn’t sure how to do the balance of her self-identity and her mom-identity. She is frantic in her desperate need to recalibrate when she’s out of whack and as we go with Andy through this story, we learn that she is simply not someone who should be doing life alone. Unfortunately, Andy’s father is not in the picture and a rift with her parents has eliminated a support system.
I could talk at length about Andy’s childhood and the neighborhood he grew up in. I work in that neighborhood and it is every bit as complicated as Weiner depicts. However, I know few readers want to hear me wax poetic about it – so just know that it’s a show of her grasp of her characters.
The story follows them throughout adulthood, as they find each other and loose each other and are independent and together and back again. I’d recommend it for fans of Weiner’s work for sure and also anyone who enjoys life-long type books. This isn’t a clear-cut ‘romance’ in that sense of the word. I was pretty sure they were going to live happily ever after but I had no idea how they were going to get there. We know them for so long, but we still manage to know them well. That’s a credit to Weiner, who could have easily lost their evolutions in the midst of the time span. Andy and Rachel are sympathetic not because they are well crafted but because they are people.
Grab a tall glass of your favorite reading beverage – for me it’s a mug of Wawa coffee of which I’m sure Weiner as a Philly girl would approve – and tuck into Who Do You Love.
- There are so many kiddos like Andy who need additional support. To help one near you, check out Big Brothers Big Sisters.
- If you’re unfamiliar with Judaism and its traditions, check out this site on rites of passage.
- Philadelphia is a great place to set a novel. Check out more here.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.