Elsie Porter is an average twentysomething and yet what happens to her is anything but ordinary. On a rainy New Year’s Day, she heads out to pick up a pizza for one. She isn’t expecting to see anyone else in the shop, much less the adorable and charming Ben Ross. Their chemistry is instant and electric. Ben cannot even wait twenty-four hours before asking to see her again. Within weeks, the two are head over heels in love. By May, they’ve eloped.
Only nine days later, Ben is out riding his bike when he is hit by a truck and killed on impact. Elsie hears the sirens outside her apartment, but by the time she gets downstairs, he has already been whisked off to the emergency room. At the hospital, she must face Susan, the mother-in-law she has never met and who doesn’t even know Elsie exists.
Interweaving Elsie and Ben’s charmed romance with Elsie and Susan’s healing process, Forever, Interrupted will remind you that there’s more than one way to find a happy ending.
(Trigger warning: death)
Heart-wrenching, poignant, powerful, and absolutely wonderful.
I loved Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Maybe in Another Life; it found its way into my heart and made a home within. There’s something about Reid’s writing that captures the splendors and afflictions of life and living, something about her prose that gives life a luminous quality. Loving Reid’s prose, I knew I would love Forever, Interrupted too – and I was right.
Forever, Interrupted touches on a topic that I am particularly sensitive about: death of a loved one. Because of this, Forever, Interrupted is probably one of the most emotional books that I have read this year. I wept so many times whilst reading this, but there were so many times where I smiled, laughed, and felt my heart swell with love. The strange but wonderful thing about Forever, Interrupted was that it shattered me into infinitesimal pieces, but still, somehow, mended my heart and filled me with a hope and peace I may not have thought possible. Suffice it to say, Forever, Interrupted is a book that takes you on an unforgettable emotional journey.
Following the sudden death of her husband, Elsie Porter, now a young widow, must face the aftermath of the love of her life’s death. Forever, Interrupted is more than just an exploration of what happens after the death of a loved one. Every face of Elsie’s pain, her anger, bitterness, doubt, and the oppressive absence of her late husband is investigated and portrayed. Her unbridled feelings and thoughts are shown with brutal, astonishing honesty. How can the world go on when mine has stopped? How can people experience joy when I am experiencing such crippling grief? How can people act like nothing has changed? There is a surrealism that follows death, and Reid perfectly illustrates this seemingly indescribable feeling with mere words. The story is given a layer of complexity when Elsie must confront her mother-in-law, who had no knowledge of Elsie and Ben’s marriage – let alone any knowledge of Elsie’s existence. I felt so connected to the characters, so connected to their stories and Elsie’s grief. I felt like I knew them in another life.
However, more than just about death and grief, Forever, Interrupted is also about the insurmountable process of healing. Is moving on a betrayal to the person you love? How long is too long when grieving? Elsie’s journey in particular is moving and, at times, refreshingly rueful. As Elsie begins to accept the reality of her life, accept that it is now forever-changed, and begins to take the small steps to heal, I felt like her healing process was also mine. Her small steps forward and her gradual transition to normality were hard-won victories, but also instilled this profound sense of hope in me: that despite my fear, moving on is possible, that there can be an after where you will never be the same but there is possibility and hope too.
Reid utilizes a dual narrative style; Elsie and Ben’s love story is juxtaposed with her grieving and healing. The alternating timelines not only show us why Elsie grieves so deeply, but also gives the story and its characters a profound depth. Ben and Elsie’s love story is interwoven into the story, and the reader is given an opportunity to glimpse into the past, into the how and why of Elsie’s grief. Although the first few chapters filled me with dread, witnessing the developments of their relationship illustrated the beauty of moments and memories and their permanence in our lives.
Forever, Interrupted is perhaps one of the most poignant and honest meditations of grief that I have ever read. Everything about this book is raw and sad, but achingly beautiful. Though this book captures a character in a dark and trying time in her life, Forever, Interrupted is a deep, heartfelt story about love, grief, devastation, and hope. Despite its heavy subject matter, Reid handles its themes with the utmost care and sensitivity, and retains its emotionally charged narrative without being emotionally manipulative. Forever, Interrupted is an absolutely rare and wonderful book, and easily one of my favourites of this year.
Book Name: Forever, Interrupted
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Washington Square Press