Thursday, October 8, 2015

Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner

Title: Who Do You Love
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Read by: Sarah Steele & JD Jackson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: Approximately 13 hours (11 CDs)
Source: Kewaunee Public Library – Thank-you!

Rachel Blum was born with a congenital heart defect in Florida, a daughter of privilege. Andy Landis was born in a young teenage couple in Philadelphia and raised by a single Mom in unhappy circumstances.  These two very different people cross paths when they are just eight years old in a hospital in Florida.  Rachel has just had heart surgery and is looking for interesting people and stories to tell her young sick friend, Alice.  She meets Andy in the ER.  He has a broken arm and is in the ER alone.  Rachel is intrigued and cheers Andy up in his time of need.  The two part ways, but randomly meet again as teenagers and set a pattern for their lives.  A pattern of great love and being together followed by separation.

As a teenager and young adult, Rachel finds herself constantly trying to be popular, but also going down a path where she wasn’t being nice to others.  There is a mean girl section with another girl that Rachel believes has stolen something from her that was so realistic and gut wrenching that it was riveting in a disturbing way.  She also becomes obsessed with sororities in college and that sort of life.  These are all things that Andy is not into.  Andy got into some trouble as a youth and could have gone down a bad path, but he had a mentor that helped him to straighten things out and find a passion with running.  As they mature, Rachel finds her way and the best side of herself becoming a social worker, while Andy sets a goal of being the best runner in the world and does everything he can to complete that goal.  Will first love be able to remain when all else changes?

I loved this book.  I love Jennifer Weiner, but there were a few books where I wasn’t feeling it.  Who Do You Love is back to a true Jennifer Weiner wonderful novel with flawed, but believable characters that you find yourself cheering for.  I loved both Rachel and Andy’s separate stories and the dual narratives of the novel.  I also loved the idea of what happens when two souls who love each other part ways and end back up together again.  It was intriguing.  

I also liked a look into a Jewish woman’s life as well as a young Catholic boy with a white mother and African American mother.  I loved the details of a Jewish Passover celebration. The only item I didn’t like about the novel was that at a funeral towards the end.  They talk about it being at what I presumed was a Catholic church that holds “midnight mass on Christmas Eve,” but the service was anything but Catholic.  It sounded like a Southern Baptist funeral.  It was a pretty glaring error, especially since I am Catholic and have also been to Baptist churches.  I wish Jennifer Weiner would have attended a funeral mass or at least watched a mass online before writing that section.

The audiobook was great and something I found so entertaining on my work commute. I loved how Sarah Steele narrated Rachel’s chapters and JD Jackson narrated Andy’s chapters.  They were the voices of the characters for me.  

Overall, Who Do you Love is a fascinating and unique love story combined with a coming of age tail for two young interesting characters.  I highly recommend it!!

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