If You’re Not the One
Author: Jemma Forte
If You’re Not the One had an intriguing premise. It piqued my interest and I was excited to start the book. Unfortunately, what began with great promise did not deliver. Main character Jennifer Wright is dissatisfied with a life that has all the appearances of something good—two healthy kids, slim figure, nice house, two cars, financially able to stay home, with good friends. Jennifer feels guilty that she’s unhappy and like many depressed people, tries to will herself into gratitude and good spirits. I was really rooting for her when she got proactive, seeing a therapist, working part-time to get some adult interaction, and even dressing up in some tarty lingerie to entice her husband back into some of the excitement they shared as a younger couple. She wasn’t waiting for change to just happen, successfully or not, she was doing something about it. Although Jennifer’s frustration is off-putting for the beginning of a book, I respected that she was working on it.
Following a severe car accident, Jennifer lapses into a deep coma where, in a Sliding Doors (which I loved) style of “what if’s,” she visits three alternative lives she might have had if she’d made different choices at pivotal points in her past. This is where the book falls down. Author Jemma Forte lobs us back and forth in time and between alternative lives and the present day. It’s confusing and distracts from the flow of the overall story. I even had to go back and reread some pages to reorient myself from chapter to chapter. Each of the alternative timelines pivoted around a different relationship. The new characters proved to be shallow and one-dimensional. Even though she enjoyed her career before marriage, none of the new storylines explored the idea of her never marrying at all.
The most egregious offense, however, is that Forte doesn’t actually finish the book. She even goes out of her way to label the final section as an epilogue, which, by definition, should tie up loose ends. Instead, she leads us toward a conclusion and just stops. It’s like she walked away from her computer and never came back. While readers bring their own lives to the story, even agreeing or disagreeing with the ending, there’s no justification in not providing one at all. Following the not-an-epilogue, Forte includes several pages of discussion questions for book clubs. This just made me mad. It feels like Forte wants her book to be talked about and discussed, but can’t be bothered to take care of her own characters. So this depressing, stressful book, has no resolution and then asks readers to provide one.
According to on-line sources, If You’re Not the One was originally published last year in the UK. This is a new cover for U.S. release June 2nd. It also appears to be shorter. I don’t know if this is a result of editing or a change in formatting. Forte’s website says it has been optioned for a film by Working Title Pictures. I can only hope it improves with visual storytelling and that in adapting the screenplay, they give it a definite ending. Sadly, it didn’t help David Nicholls wonderfully creative book concept One Day. Not even Anne Hathaway and darling Jim Sturgess could save that bad ending.
Jennifer Wright is pretty sure her husband doesn’t love her anymore. She and Max used to be the perfect couple, but the pressures of work and kids have pulled them in opposite directions. Now, Jen is full of “what if” questions about whether her bland, suburban existence is all she was ever destined for.
When a terrible accident sends Jen into a coma, she is able to see what her life could have been if she had run off to Australia with the handsome, dangerous man she met on vacation, or if she had stayed with her workaholic college boyfriend. Would she ever have loved another child as much as she loves her daughters? Could she have become rich? More than anything, Jen wants to do the right thing for her family. But what she discovers may leave her with even more questions about the choices she made, and no easy answers about what to do next.
U.S. Release Date: June 2, 1015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format(s): paperback (384 pages), e-book
Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley
If You’re Not the One