Forever, Interrupted, by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
"Let's just move on. I'll talk to Susan about the cremation later. What else do I need to go over today?" I say.
"Well, Elsie. Everything hinges on what is to be done with the body."
Don't call it the body, you asshole. That's my husband. That's the body that grabbed my left hand as it drove us to the movies. That's the body that made me feel alive, made me feel crazy, made me cry and shake with joy. It's lifeless now, but that doesn't mean I've given up on it.
This book is not your typical romance. We meet Elsie and Ben, who have been happily married for the past nine days. Ben dashes out to the grocery store to buy Elsie some Fruity Pebbles she was craving, but in the process gets run over by a truck driver; both him and the driver die on the scene, and Elsie is devastated. She now has to cooperate with Ben's mother, who doesn't even know she exists, for the funeral arrangements, all while re-learning to be by herself again, too.
Elsie Porter is an average twentysomething and yet what happens to her is anything but ordinary. On a rainy New Year's Day, she heads out to pick up a pizza for one. She isn't expecting to see anyone else in the shop, much less the adorable and charming Ben Ross. Their chemistry is instant and electric. Ben cannot even wait twenty-four hours before asking to see her again. Within weeks, the two are head over heels in love. By May, they've eloped.
Only nine days later, Ben is out riding his bike when he is hit by a truck and killed on impact. Elsie hears the sirens outside her apartment, but by the time she gets downstairs, he has already been whisked off to the emergency room. At the hospital, she must face Susan, the mother-in-law she has never met and who doesn't even know Elsie exists.
Interweaving Elsie and Ben's charmed romance with Elsie and Susan's healing process, Forever, Interrupted will remind you that there's more than one way to find a happy ending.
I really liked how this novel switched between the past (early winter of that year) and the present, although at times it was jarring - Elsie would be talking about Ben, who is now dead, and then the next chapter would start off in the past with him very much alive.
The characters in this book jumped off the page, as well, as they were all so normal. Elsie, 26, works as a librarian, and the meet-cute occurs when she goes to get a takeout pizza; she actually wanted delivery but they were quoting her an hour or more wait time, so she goes down to the store to pick it up instead. She and Ben hit it off instantly and they make a "five week rule": they'll date exclusively for five weeks and then see what happens after that. By the end of the five weeks, though, Ben is already itching to move in with her, and Elsie can't think of anything that would make her happier.
Ben's mother, Susan, was also an interesting character - she was very angry at Elsie at first, and standoffish, until they both realize that Susan is only angry at her because Ben is no longer around and Elsie is "the only one left to be angry at."
This may be one of the best books I've read this year, as 2013 comes to a close - it was hard to get through because it was so sad, but I also enjoyed reading about Ben and Elsie's whirlwind romance through the flashbacks, too. The writing itself is also very good, and is in fact better than most of the "usual" romance novels I usually read.
5 stars out of 5.
*Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this novel from NetGalley for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.