Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are eight years old when they meet late one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she's intrigued by the boy who shows up all alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy's taken back to the emergency room and Rachel's sent back to her bed, they think they'll never see each other again.
Rachel, the beloved, popular, and protected daughter of two doting parents, grows up wanting for nothing in a fancy Florida suburb. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent that will let him become one of the best runners of his generation.
Over the course of three decades, through high school and college, marriages and divorces, from the pinnacles of victory and the heartbreak of defeat, Andy and Rachel will find each other again and again, until they are finally given a chance to decide whether love can surmount difference and distance and if they've been running toward each other all along.
With honesty, wit, and clear-eyed observations about men and women, love and fate, and the truth about happy endings, Jennifer Weiner delivers two of her most memorable characters, and a love story you'll never forget.
My neighborhood, I decide, is an embarrassment. I live on the Street of Clichés, the Avenue of the Expected. Worse, I’m a cliché myself: almost forty, the baby weight that I could never shed ringing my middle like a deflated inner tube, gray roots and wrinkles and breasts that look good only when they’re stringently underwired. They could put my picture on Wikipedia: Abandoned Wife, Brooklyn, 2014.
Brenda’s hands are gentle as she eases me up and off the bed and into the chair in the corner—a flea-market find, upholstered in a pale yellow print, the chair where I sat when I nursed my girls, when I read my books, when I wrote my reports. As I watch, she deftly strips the sheets off the bed, shakes the pillows free of their creased cases, and gives each one a brisk whack over her knee before settling it back on the bed. Dust fills the room, motes dancing in the beams of light that push through the dirt-filmed windows I’d been planning to have cleaned.
I huddle in my nightgown, shoulders hunched, knees pulled up to my chest. “Why are you doing this?” I ask.
Brenda looks at me kindly. “I am being of service,” she says. She carries her armful of soiled linen out of the bedroom and comes back with a fresh set. When she struggles to get the fitted sheet to stay put, I get up off the chair and help her. Then she goes to the bathroom and turns on the shower. “Come on,” she says, and I pull my nightgown off over my head and stand under the showerhead, with my arms hanging by my sides. I tilt my head to feel the warmth beating down on my cheeks, my chin, my eyelids. Tears mix with the water and wash down the drain. When I was a little girl and I’d come home from the hospital with Steri-Strips covering my stitches, my mom would give me a sponge bath, then sit me on the edge of the tub to wash my hair, pouring warm water over my head, rubbing in the shampoo, then rinsing, then conditioning, and rinsing again. She would touch the thick, braided line of pink scar
tissue that ran down the center of my chest, then gently pat it dry. My beautiful girl, she would say. My beautiful, beautiful girl.
My sheets are silky and cool as pond water, but I don’t lie down. I prop myself up against the headboard and rasp out the question that I’ve heard hundreds of times from dozens of clients.
“What do I do now?”