emily giffin has been on my must buy list ever since i first read something borrowed. it's one of my all time favorite novels, one that i re-read every year. but sometimes i think my love for something borrowed overshadows the fact that i don't actually love all her books. both baby proof and love the one you're with spoke to me--they felt like somehow the author had seen into my soul and knew exactly the issues i was struggling with regards to wanting and having kids and even whether or not i should keep thinking about the guy with whom the timing was never quite right. i also really enjoyed the one & only, football and complicated romance is right up my alley, though i understand why many people were put off by the ick factor in the romance. if you think about it too hard, it's definitely creepy and not romantic at all. anyway, given these things, and given that i didn't love the alternating viewpoints in heart of the matter or where we belong, i was still excited for first comes love, even though what i read about it made me wonder if it was really something that would speak to me. [an aside: aren't all her books so pretty though? i love how they look so good on the shelf one right next to the other.]
josie and meredith are two sisters who have handled the consequences of their beloved brother's death very differently. instead of bringing them together the accident severed a relationship that was already tenuous. while i mostly liked each character in their respective viewpoints, i tended to agree more with meredith, but it seemed like everyone else in the world agreed more with josie. and i guess that rubbed me the wrong way. meredith was in no way perfect, but it felt like because she presented a more well-adjusted front than her sister, when she was irrational it was less forgivable.
but beyond that, the secret at the heart of the novel in the end didn't feel big enough to warrant all the build-up and secrecy that result from it. because in the end, what happened may or may not have actually impacted the events of the night of the accident. and it's also hard to believe that it would have taken 15 years to uncover that particular bit of truth. i don't know. it didn't feel monumental enough and the way meredith reacts to it, makes it seem like she's being over-the-top melodramatic, even though she had plenty of other reasons to be questioning her life choices.
these characters all suffer from massive communication problems. they can't talk to each other like rational people. nothing they say comes out the right way and their reactions don't make any sense half the time. going from one perspective to the other highlights all the ways these two characters especially seem to purposely miss understanding each other. it's extremely frustrating to read at times. no one says exactly what they mean, or they say exactly what they mean at times where doing so is not appropriate. i just don't know.
in both the beginning of first comes love and in the end the characters make note of love coming first:
"he would be turning forty at the end of this year, an older, wiser version of the young man he had been. the kind of person who understands that nothing is as important as family. that loves comes first."
"i feel certain that this last theory is the correct one. that it all comes down to love....but there is one constant, one thing that you can always count on: that not only does love come first, but in the end, it is the only thing that remains."
and these are lovely sentiments. but i'm not entirely sure that the events of the novel really bring things full circle. or even that they truly prove these statements true. there is a lot more doubt in the novel than there is love. and maybe that's why i have my doubts about this one, as much as i wanted to love it.