The story is told in four voices: Abby, Ryan, Julianna (their daughter), and Lauren. Abby is our main leading lady, though she didn't gain this role, but rather stole it. You see, once upon a time there were three friends. Two ended up in something MORE than friendship, something that was earth shattering, nerve quaking, and soul shaking. The third was still invited along, included in pretty much everything, but subconsciously, felt that label of "third wheel". It wasn't a label that she could acknowledge though because her psyche had given her a run for her money for most of her life and admitting her college crush would not be returned was outside any hard earned comfort zone. Add to this equation a long absence by choice, a familial passing, and a lack of communication to sustain what was into something that should be so glorious stories would be written about it (hey, I inadvertently made a funny! Inside joke for those that have read the book....), and the end result is a trail of broken hearts that don't even realize they need mending. The repercussions of such betrayals are felt soul deep for years to come until finally...they break the surface, refusing to be hidden any longer, and beg for acceptance into the light of day. Is it possible? Can something that was forged unnaturally, turn into something beautiful and unexpected?
The equation here, in case you're trying to discern it, is Lauren + Ryan = FOREVER... + Abby? Yeah. Abby is or rather was that third wheel and yet in light of all her actions, you can't help but feel sorry for her. Admittedly, she's not an easy person to like and a few times I wanted to write her off myself, but the author wouldn't let us forget the demons she faced in her own heart and mind, the challenges she already faced, and those yet to come. She helped us accept Abby for who she was and in turn, watch as she grew into the person she was meant to be. It was heartbreaking and beautiful all at once. Ryan was the epitome of the GOOD GUY. Ladies, if you're looking for a bad boy, this ain't him, but the loyalty her shows, the heart he shares with blood and his team, the morals he counts on to bring him through these dark times, all add up to someone you wouldn't want to miss. It's easy to see how Abby fixated on him, and oh-so-hard to admit that despite all those incredible qualities, and acts of compassion, he's still human....he still made his own share of mistakes. Speaking of which, the same can definitely be said about Lauren. I'm sorry. I understand what happened to her but to not do anything and pine away for that person for so very many years without any contact, seems as foolish the choices that were made (willingly or not) in her absence. No one made her go any of the times she left, but she did what she had to do...as did they all.
In the end, it's a story that reminds us to live life as honestly as we can each and every day; that way should our closets be laid bare, we won't have to worry about any skeletons hanging about. As the journey was reaching its end, I admit...I wasn't certain exactly "where we [would] fall", but I knew it would be someplace with rampant beauty, reflecting the fullness of a heart that's spoken, and in the arms of those that have seen love. What more could you ask for? Recommended read for older teens through adults.