Title: The One & Only
Author: Emily Giffin
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: May 20, 2014
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library
Summary from Goodreads:
Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade.
But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most—and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets.
First, I must note that I adore the plot summary for this book, because it doesn't give away ANYTHING. Lately I feel like the plot summaries I've been reading are far too detailed. This one gives you a good feel for the book, without giving away the farm.
You may remember that I really, really, really love Emily Giffin. Usually I know WAY in advance when her latest book is coming out, but because I most recently live in a mommy cave of oblivion, I didn't find out until a whole month AFTER its release that this book was available. For shame, me! Luckily my library got it to me lickity-split, because this was a novel worth devouring.
In keeping with the summary, I don't want to give any spoilers. However, I will say that this book brought me back to my early love for Giffin's work, forged when I read her first two novels (Something Borrowed and Something Blue). I was drawn to them because, like a lot of women's fiction, they are steeped in relationship issues, but not in a way that is predictable or mollifying. Giffin has a way of making you build sympathy for characters who aren't always engaging in the most wholesome behaviors, which takes a lot of skill. You don't naturally want to cheer on a liar or a cheat, amiright? But Giffin molds her characters in a way that allows you to see them as more than the sum of their poor choices. In fact, she makes you question if those choices were really poor at all.
Such is the case with The One & Only. Shea (our protagonist) stumbles into some rather...complicated relationships. And believe it or not, I found myself rooting for her to go towards the most inappropriate one of all. I won't tell you if it comes to fruition or not, but I will say that the suspense along the way is fairly addictive. Prepare to be glued to your book once things get rolling.
I've read a few reviews that decry Shea as a very one-sided character--nothing but football, football, and more football. I agree that that is true, but it didn't bother me because I think it was meant to make a point. Shea has led a pretty sheltered life, and is definitely battling some "daddy issues"...she's afraid to move out of her comfort zone. Football is her comfort, and that was highlighted a bit heavily, but I believe it's in a way that gives you a better sense of her motives.
Overall, this was another Emily Giffin win for me. I will say that I did not love the conclusion (we're talking the last 3-4 pages), because I feel like she decided to pull a punch at the last second and wrap up the ending a little too sweetly. However, given that I was unable to put the book down for the previous 400-ish pages, I'd say this one gets a 99% amazing rating from me.
Any other Emily Giffin fans out there? Will you be picking up her latest anytime soon?