Does Fate Find Us, or Do We Determine Our “Fate”?
Hannah Martin is certain of one thing. She is not closing in on thirty, she’s only twenty-nine. Beyond that, she’s not too sure. She does not know what she wants to be when she grows up, nor does she know of a location that feels like “home.”
She grew up in Los Angeles, went to college in Boston, then moved to DC, then Portland, Oregon, then Seattle, then Austin, and then New York City. She is just moving away from NYC as we meet her, running from a disastrous affair with a married man named Michael. She doesn’t know until a few pages into the book that she is pregnant as a result of the relationship.
Hannah’s inability to find “home” is not really her fault. When she was sixteen, her family moved to London because her sister, Sarah, got accepted to the Royal Ballet School. Hannah remained in LA to finish high school living with her best friend, Gabby, and her parents, Tina and Carl Hudson. Though the Hudsons love her dearly, it’s still easy to see how the abandonment by her parents unmoored her.
As the book opens, Hannah is moving back to LA. She is going to live with Gabby and her husband of two years, Mark. Her first day in town, she hears from her high school sweetheart, Ethan. They always assumed they would end up together, but then he went to college at UC Berkeley, and she went to college on the east coast (because she wanted a shorter flight to see her family in London), and the physical distance led to an emotional one.
The question soon becomes: Is there unfinished business between them? The author starts to answer this question when Gabby, Mark, and Hannah meet up with friends at a bar and Ethan walks in. By evening’s end, Hannah has two offers, to ride home with Gabby and Mark when they leave or to stay longer and allow Ethan to drive her back to Gabby’s later. As Hannah decides, she tells us, “Life is long and full of an infinite number of decisions. I have to think that the small ones don’t matter, that I’ll end up where I need to end up no matter what I do. My fate will find me.”
So, there we have it, the premise for the book: Do we have a specific fate that will find us, or do the choices we make determine our “fate”?
At this point, the book goes in two directions. There is the story of Hannah going home with Ethan – which includes his actions when she learns she is pregnant by Michael. And then, in alternating chapters, there is the story of going home with Gabby – which includes a hit and run accident that puts Hannah in the hospital, ending her pregnancy and her ability to walk.
Taylor Jenkins Reid is a wonderful storyteller, so count on the fact that both paths will be compelling.