By Catherine Mallette
Happy newlywed Ellen Graham is crossing the street one afternoon in New York City when she runs into ex-boyfriend Leo—the laid-back, commitment-phobe of a guy who broke her heart, leaving her to binge on Twinkies and sob herself to sleep for weeks, nearly months. They chat.
He says he misses her. And so it begins.
Emily Giffin's "Love the One You're With" (St. Martin's, 352 pages, $24.95) charges through the dangerous emotional minefield of ex-boyfriends, taking Ellen from confident and comfortable newlywed to nerve-racked mess, wondering if she should return to The One Who Got Away. The husband, Andy, is rich, handsome and a little bit on the boring side—he's eager to leave the big city and embrace suburbia, returning to his hometown of Atlanta to practice law in the family firm. The ex, Leo, is a Manhattan magazine writer, with contacts who can help Ellen get amazing gigs in her photography career. Plus, he's simply hot.
Will Ellen feel trapped if she stays with Andy? Will she be more "herself" if she leaves him for Leo? Who is she, really, she wonders, and what should she do now that she actually has a choice in relationships?
The plot isn't terribly rich or deep, but Ellen's conflicting thoughts and emotions ring true from the start through the book's teary (well, at least for this reader) conclusion. It's a satisfying, light, chick-lit read about the pain of self-discovery.
Added bonus: For those who love to mock superficial social-climbers, the opulence of the Buckhead, Ga., scene is at once transfixing and horrifying, like a roadside accident. There are a couple of minor characters—Ginny and Craig—who provide some good laughs in a dinner party that involves a hairless Chinese crested puppy who wears sunscreen every day and a bottle of merlot that gets Ginny snottily sneering, "Where did you find it? Wal-Mart?"
Good fun.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times