If You Liked When Harry Met Sally…
The is the story of Poppy and Alex, two people who meet at the University of Chicago on their first day as freshmen. They do not particularly like each other at that first meeting, nor do they think they have anything in common except that they both hail from neighboring towns in Ohio. After sharing a ride home at the end of that first year, however, they become friends, and then summer vacation partners, and finally, twelve years later, a couple of the happily-ever-after sort. If this all sounds a bit like When Harry Met Sally, the author tells us that is her intent.
The story is told from Poppy’s point of view. As we meet her, she is a writer for Rest + Relaxation, a top travel magazine. Thanks to this job, she travels worldwide – on an expense account. I should also mention that she lives in New York City and is able to afford a nice apartment and can even take cabs “without worrying too much about what that money should go to.” It’s everything she ever wanted, yet she finds that she is unhappy.
Her best friend is Rachel Krohn, and that is who she turns to for advice. As it turns out, Rachel’s mom is a psychologist who has spoken to Rachel on this topic and who has given her this advice: “When you lose your happiness, it’s best to look for it the same way you’d look for anything else…by retracing your steps…All you have to do is think back and ask yourself when was the last time you were truly happy.”
These words make things crystal clear for Poppy. The last time she was happy was two years ago when she was in Croatia with Alex. Unfortunately, something happened there, and the two have not spoken since. Using all her courage, Poppy texts Alex and starts up a dialog. It quickly leads to their decision to take one more trip together.
In alternating chapters, the author tells us about the current trip while bouncing back to previous years. When she tells us of these years, she does so in chronological order. She tells us what happened “twelve summers ago,” and then “eleven summers ago,” and then “ten summers ago,” and so forth. In this manner we relive Poppy and Alex’s entire friendship starting with that first day at the University of Chicago. He’s in khakis and a t-shirt with the university’s logo. She’s wearing a neon orange and pink floral jumpsuit from the early seventies (one of her many thrift store finds), and is holding a poster that says “Fuck Khakis.” She immediately dismisses him as a “teenage librarian,” and is sure “that the longer [they] talk, the more violently boring he’ll become.” From this inauspicious start, the author takes us through the years and shows us a close friendship and a blossoming romance.
It takes a long time to get to “two summers ago” in Croatia and to find out what happened there to take the bloom off the rose. But we do get there. And we understand. And we see there is not an easy fix to the problem.
Remember, though, this is a When Harry Met Sally type Rom-Com, so happily-ever-after is mandatory. It takes the author thirty-seven chapters to get there, but she finally delivers true love in a manner that is believable.
If you are looking for a lighthearted and easy read, this book is it!
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