One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid | Review

Posted October 3, 2016 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Reviews / 13 Comments

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid | ReviewOne True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Also by this author: Maybe in Another Life, After I Do, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Forever, Interrupted, Daisy Jones & The Six
Published by Washington Square Press on June 7th 2016
Pages: 327 •Goodreads

From the author of Maybe in Another Life—named a People Magazine pick and a "Best Book of the Summer" by Glamour and USA TODAY—comes a breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.
In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.
On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.
Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.
That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.
Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?
Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

I think I am becoming a bit of a Taylor Jenkins Reid junkie. I read and loved Maybe in Another Life a few months ago, and I was just as hooked on her recent release, One True Loves. I read this one over the span of a weekend trip to Disneyland, so you can imagine that it must’ve been good if I was able to focus on it while being in immersed in all things Disney (I’m a bit of a fanatic).

One True Loves is a story that refreshes the concept of a love triangle. Emma was married to her self proclaimed soul mate in her twenties, and had a joyous and adventurous life. When her husband Jesse goes missing and is presumed dead, she eventually moves on and is engaged years later, only to find out that he survived and is coming home. So while yes, the protagonist does find herself caught between two men and two relationships, the dynamic is so unique and the stakes are so much more different than other novels with love triangles at their cores. It’s one of the worst possible positions to be in, as there was never any intent for the triangle to exist, as one person was assumed dead.

While the novel had an interesting plot, what really stood out to me was the quality of the writing. Taylor Jenkins Reid has such a gift with conveying real emotions at such pivotal life stages for women in early adulthood. I loved seeing the progression of Emma from her twenties to thirties, the acknowledgement that so much can change in less than a five year period during that time of your life. I also loved that she leveraged the second person POV for certain scenes, as it really immerses readers into empathizing with Emma’s situation. Though from the book’s synopsis you know that Emma’s husband, Jesse, is going to go missing, having the relive the trauma with Emma (as it is told mostly in flashback format) really had me feeling for her. I’ve been talking nonstop for three days to anyone who will listen about the impossibility of her situation, and what they think they would do, because I find it all so heart wrenching and fascinating. I can’t stop thinking about the grief and joy and despair that Emma cycles through in the novel when the impossible happens twice- her husband disappearing, and surviving and returning after all of those years.

While I really enjoyed the plot of this book, I found that I didn’t care for Emma that much as a character. While I appreciate that she stood by her decisions for moving on when others judged her for getting engaged and finding happiness with her husband gone, I also just inherently disliked how she handled the situation of juggling Jesse and Sam. Sure, it’s a really tough situation and none of us really know how we’d react unless we were in it, but I felt like her indecisiveness at times felt disingenuous and I wanted her to feel more of a depth of emotion, such as that which came across in the chapters when she lost Jesse. Older Emma seemed so much more detached and harder to empathize with. I also think she made her decision about who to be with very, very quickly, and while the buildup of the plot was great, the resolution was a bit too hasty for me.

Overall: Taylor Jenkins Reid is a master of writing realistic, riveting romances that are centered at the heart of the transitional time of early adulthood. Her books maintain the integrity of adult fiction while still navigating the tenuous period of the early-late twenties that generally falls into the New Adult category, and when so many people are still figuring out who they are. One True Loves is a book that broke my heart for the characters several times over, but also included narratives about personal growth and change and aging. While not my favorite Taylor Jenkins Reid novel due to the ending, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading this one!


Spoiler Time!

(Check out the below if you want to read my spoiler-filled thoughts!)

  • I’m really, really bummed that she didn’t end up with Jesse. He obviously had a LOT of issues that he needs to work through, but I felt that less than a week to determine you’re no longer a fit for someone who you were MARRIED to and dated for almost a DECADE is a bit ridiculous.
  • Honestly I predicted she was going to end up with Sam from the beginning but I just never really felt a connection between them. I am so angsty over the fact that her and Jesse’s marriage ended because of his disappearance. Like would they have stayed together regardless? Maybe yes, maybe no. But it’s so sad to me that the dissolution of their marriage is so based around circumstance.
  • I feel like there were so many subplots around this novel that I wanted to know more about, such as Jesse’s time surviving lost at sea and his reintegration into society, or Emma’s nieces deafness. There were a lot of really interesting things brought up that I wanted to know MORE about.
  • The bookstore element was really charming! I liked seeing Emma start out as a reluctant reader and discover reading later on. It’s not something you see often in books (I think a lot of authors project their love of reading onto their characters and make them bookworms) but I like that it was something Emma started later in life and that helped her through her grief.



Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Goodreads Challenge 2016
  • Rock My TBR 2016


13 responses to “One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid | Review

  1. Yes! I agree with all this. I really enjoyed this one but it wasn’t my favorite by her for sure. I was actually hoping she’d end up with ~the person she DID end up with~ but I can’t remember why now that I’m looking back on it haha.

  2. ugh… I am kind of curious but the love triangle scares me.but then you mentioned her indecisiveness and I don’t know.. the plot is interesting, I like the appeal.

    • It’s definitley not a “typical” love triangle because the circumstances are so unique. There’s a lot of history and valid reasons behind both choices which for me made the love triangle aspect a viable part of the plot (I usually hate them because I’ve read so many bad ones). It could work for you!

  3. One True Loves isn’t my favorite TJR novel, but I still enjoyed it a lot! I think it’s always fascinating to see Taylor tackle such difficult, emotionally charged situations. She always manages to write them in a way that allows me to see them from all angles and to empathize with the characters.

    • This is so accurate! Even if I dislike elements about the protagonist or love interests, I feel a sense of empahthy with the situations she creates and admire the characters for working through them! I also think it’s interesting that in book books I have read by her, they both feature multiple love interests. I’m curious to see if this is a trend that continues!

  4. Taylor levin

    Little late the convo but *spoilers* I really agree that she should have stayed with Jesse and only a week to Decide was too short. He had just been lost presumed dead for years and Emma was in love with someone new of course she is going to gravitate towards the person she is currently in love with. And I guess the author hinted that they would have split up eventually because in the beginning she was scared to tell him about wanting to move home… but I feel like the story would have closed better if instead of going into so much depth of the one week she should have had her pick Jesse be with him for a year or so when he was getting his life back together and then maybe have them both grow apart and then have her just run into sam somewhere random again and just end the book there but I guess that would make it a completely different book 😉

    • YES this is exactly how I would have loved the book to end as well! I just felt like it was such a short time frame to give things with Jesse a chance after he was gone for SUCH a long time!! Honestly it probably feels to me like the least believable love story out of all of TJR’s books, I feel like she usually writes them with a lot more finesse.

  5. noelenemagro


    Every scene between Jesse and Emma had me in tears ( I have puffy eyes rn ) and while I predicted that she’ll end up with Sam , I was so heartbroken that she didn’t end up with Jesse ,especially given the connection they have

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