Unpopular Opinion Alert: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I KNOW I KNOW the minority once again.

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One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid – 2 Stars

I’m conflicted with this story. I loved the first half of this, but after about 70% or so, there were things I didn’t understand and some things I just didn’t enjoy.

As you may have read from the blurb, Emma and Jesse meet as teenagers, fall in love, and marry. But after a helicopter crash, Jesse goes missing and is assumed to be dead. Fast forward 3 years, Emma moves back home and is reacquainted with a childhood friend, Sam. They start to date, fall in love, and eventually become engaged. But a few months after their engagement, Jesse is found and returns home.

In the beginning, when the characters are in their teenage years, I loved how the author unfolded how they all met and the years that followed. I found the dry witty humor refreshing and I just immediately connected with the story. I really liked Emma’s personality and I loved how insightful it was.

Now what didn’t work for me is going to be a little harder to explain without spoiling anything. But the last 70% or so was just so ….convenient, and was wrapped up way too neatly in a nice little bow. The way things ended and so easily came together didn’t seem realistic to me. At all. I also didn’t understand Emma’s decisions toward the end. In fact, they angered me quite a bit. Again, I can’t say much more without spoiling some parts, so I’ll leave a more detailed description with some spoilers for those who want to know below.

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One of the main things I did not like about this was how Jesse accepts him and Emma aren’t going to be together after 1 conversation. This wasn’t believable to me. They have spent their LIVES loving one another. He comes back fully expecting them to be together. And for him to let her go after one simple conversation didn’t seem realistic.

Also, Jesse spent 3 years on a secluded island fighting for his life. For him to come back seemingly fine and with no alteration to his personality, PTSD, anything, was also unrealistic to me. Sure, he admits later on he doesn’t feel “right” and this may have been discussed “off screen”. But someone who goes through that ordeal must have some resonating symptoms. I am sure there are exceptions to this, but I didn’t believe it.

Lastly, and the biggest issue for me here: After Emma decides to leave Jesse, and she is 100% sure she wants to be with Sam, she sleeps with Jesse. Again. WHY?! I didn’t understand the need for that and it angered me. Her claim that it was a “goodbye” was ridiculous. And pretty disgusting.
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And how Sam reacts to basically knowing Emma slept with her once-dead husband? COME. ON. No anger, no resentment. Nothing? Just an “It’s ok, it happened.” That wasn’t believable at ALL. I don’t care how understanding you are. I don’t care if you’re a saint or the Dalai Lama himself. Knowing your fiancé has slept with someone else (multiple times) has got to evoke some emotions and anger.

All in all, this was an enjoyable read at first, though I didn’t agree with how a lot of things were handled later on. I do think books like this that involve a sort of love triangle / cheating are a tricky thing to write. Naturally, people are going to pick sides and find the person in the middle selfish and not always understand their decisions. Which is what the main issue was for me. While I can’t deny that the author is a talented writer, I enjoyed the first half so much more than the last.

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review

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