Chances are this past Valentine’s Day your Facebook feed had a few people who updated their relationship status from “single” to “in a relationship” or “engaged.” My favorite relationship status, though, has always been the ambiguous “It’s Complicated.” I’m always curious what is going on in those relationships, and I love books that allow me to peek inside the relationships of seemingly happy couples. This month, I’m recommending my favorite books that deal with marriages and relationships that are definitely complicated.
Fates and Furies by Lauren Goff
The phrase “there are two sides to every story” takes on new meaning in this book on marriage. The first half of the book tells the story of Lotto’s 24-year marriage from his perspective. The second half of the book tells the same love story from his wife Mathilde’s perspective. Needless to say, neither Lotto nor Mathilde remembers the marriage quite the same, and there are a lot of secrets and surprises for the reader.
All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover
Any couple who has struggled with infertility knows the stress this can put on a relationship. In All Your Perfects, Hoover tells the story of Quinn and Graham in two timelines. In the first timeline, they are meeting and falling in love with all the sweet silliness of a true love story. In the second timeline, we see the couple 8 years into their marriage after they have been trying unsuccessfully to conceive and their marriage is falling apart. Along the way, Hoover explores what keeps a relationship together and what pushes it apart. Be warned: This one might make you cry.
Every Note Played by Lisa Genova
Ever wonder what might possibly motivate an ex-wife to move in with the ex-husband she hates? Genova’s book will answer that question. Richard and Karina have been divorced for years. When Richard receives an ALS diagnosis and needs help, Karina becomes his reluctant caretaker. The book follows Richard’s health decline, the decline of their marriage years ago, and the healing of some long-held hurts in their relationship. It is a heavier read, but I thought it ended on a very hopeful note.
After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Lauren and Ryan have been married awhile and are wondering if it’s worth it to stay together when they both are so unhappy. They decide to take a year off from marriage with only one rule: they cannot contact each other during the year off. In the pages of After I Do, Reid realistically explores love, marriage, and a variety of relationships through the main characters and their family and friends. She offers ideas for what keeps us together and what drives us apart.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Celestial and Roy are just settling into their marriage when Roy is convicted of a crime and sentenced to 12 years in prison. For five years, they are forced apart until his conviction is overturned, and they are reunited. However, the time alone for Celestial and the time in prison for Ray have left a toll on their marriage. There are no “bad guys” in this book, just an honest exploration of marriage, relationships, and the impact of incarceration on everyone.
Looking for more suggestions? Here are some “It’s Complicated” honorable mentions
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall
Kelley Brandeberry is a Public Service Associate at the Scheben Branch and leads the Chapter and Verse Book Group. She is an avid reader of all types of books and is always on the lookout for her next favorite.