Sunday, January 21, 2018

This Love Story Will Self-Destruct by Leslie Cohen

Ah, relationships.  Relationships in our twenties.  Fun times.  Some of us are still with that person we met in our younger years, and have had a lifetime of commitment, ups and downs, and more to come.  Some of us are just fresh in a relationship, and still figuring things out.  I think we all look back and examine  past relationships under a microscope, wondering how they shaped us, how they led us to where we are now, and the person we eventually found and loved. This novel, by first time author Leslie Cohen, reminded me of all of that relationship "stuff" that can drive us all crazy, but we can't help ourselves, sometimes.  

Eve and Ben attended Columbia College together, and were only vaguely aware of each other in a large group of friends and friends of friends.  Eve's relationship with Jesse is a bit of a mess, and while it causes some angst, it's what Eve expects in a relationship, and she's not comfortable without it. Plus, Jesse is a musician, and Eve wants to write about music. Seems like a natural match, but Jesse uses drugs, is full of angst, and has no problem being unfaithful to Eve and very noncommittal in a future together. 

Eve is a young woman who has definitely been affected by her childhood:  her father left when she was young, her mother died on 9/11, leaving Eve and her sister to have only each other and their stepfather, who has an apartment where the girls crash in-between jobs and apartments. She's a solitary figure surrounded by the hustle and bustle of New York City. 

Years later, Eve and Ben meet again at a bar with old college friends.  This time, they feel a connection.  Ben, a civil engineer, is working on the new Freedom Tower.  He's everything Eve doesn't want: stable, thoughtful, steadfast.  Yet somehow, through many stops and starts, they fall for each other.  But as we all know, relationships take work; they startle us sometimes with discoveries about our partner; sometimes we make bad choices and pay the consequences.  Just how much Eve grows and matures is evident as the novel moves along. Her deeply seated belief that if she anticipates bad things happening, they will happen and she'll be prepared, leads to bad decisions.  We all know that person who believes if they ever feel happy, something is sure to come along and ruin it.  Eve is that person.  Ben is not.  He calls things as they are, and lives in the here and now with a optimistic view of life.  

I would compare this novel to the novels of Rainbow Rowell.  It is more than a novel about young relationships, but also an ode to New York City, where anything is possible; to the generation who grew up with 9/11.  Mostly, I felt,  it speaks to everyone who is afraid to be happy. You deserve a healthy relationship. Get out of the one that's making you miserable. Enjoy the ride.  Love big.  Don't be afraid to be happy; it makes the hard times bearable.  

A big thank you to Simon & Schuster  and Gallery Books for a review copy.  This novel will be available for sale on January 23rd in the U.S in paperback and ebook.  

Rating:  4/6 for a modern look at love, and all the pitfalls the latest generation has to conquer.  A colorful, loud look at New York City, and the lingering devastation of 9/11 on our national psyche.

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