Tuesday, July 1, 2014

"After I Do"

Taylor Jenkins Reid is from Acton, Massachusetts. She graduated from Emerson College in Boston in 2005. She worked in entertainment and education before becoming a writer.

Her debut, Forever, Interrupted, was called a "stunning first novel," by Publishers Weekly. Kirkus Reviews called her second book, After I Do, "a must read."

Reid applied the Page 69 Test to After I Do and reported the following:
After I Do is about two people who used to love each other but simply don't anymore. They are stuck in a marriage that neither one of them finds fulfilling and they are both lost as to how to fix it. They decide to take a year apart from one another.

On Page 69, Lauren, the main character, is preparing for her husband, Ryan, to move out.
I grab a few of my things and prepare to leave. I can’t stay here for this. I can’t watch it happen. I am glad he is leaving. I really am. I keep telling myself that over and over. I keep thinking of my new freedom. But I realize that I don’t really know what it means—freedom. I don’t know anything of the practical ramifications of my actions. We have covered only the basics in terms of our preparation. We haven’t talked about what it would feel like or what our new life would look like. We’ve stuck to numbers and figures. We’ve talked about how to divide our bank account. We’ve talked about how to afford two rent payments. How to keep him on my insurance. Whether we need to file legally. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Ryan said, and I let it go. That answer was good with me. I certainly don’t want any of this in writing.

I told Ryan last night that I didn’t want to be here to see him leave. He agreed that it might be best if I left for the weekend and gave him his space to move out as he wished. “The last thing I need is you critiquing the way I pack my toothbrush,” Ryan told me. His voice was jovial, but his words were sincere. I could feel the tension and resentment under-neath. The smile on his face was the sort of smile car salesmen have, pretending everybody’s having a good time when, really, you’re at war.
I'm so glad this scene fell on page 69! I think it's very emblematic of the story as a whole. After I Do focuses a great deal on the small ways we can undermine and isolate each other, the day-to-day intimacies that can sometimes break a marriage. The toothbrush example is one of my favorite examples. The stakes are so high for Lauren and Ryan, they used to love each other, they have built a life together, and yet, they are willing to tear it down over the smallest things. Which isn't a slight on them -- it is often the smallest things that can kill you. Death by a thousand cuts, as they say. Once Ryan moves out, the story takes on a life of it's own as we follow Lauren's path to discover her true feelings about marriage -- so 69 is a great page to highlight. After this, it's all up and down hill for these two.
Learn more about the book and author at Taylor Jenkins Reid's website.

The Page 69 Test: Forever, Interrupted.

Writers Read: Taylor Jenkins Reid.

--Marshal Zeringue