Have you ever felt, even for a moment, that the life you are living and the person that others perceive you to be, could all somehow be a charade? Just a little off? Not exactly authentic to the thoughts that are in your head? In Julie Buxbaum’s debut novel, The Opposite of Love, this is precisely how Emily feels as she suspects that her boyfriend of two years is on the verge of proposing to her. The thought of marriage– of being that beautiful woman cascading down the aisle in a flash of white– is unimaginable, and she feels that she simply cannot risk it.
“I would be nothing more than a fraud, a pretend grown-up, a con artist playing the role of bride. I don’t even want to spend the rest of my life with me. How can Andrew? And how do you explain to someone you love that you can’t give yourself to them because if you did, you’re not sure who you’d be giving? That you aren’t even sure what your own words are worth?”
As Emily struggles with the decision to break off her relationship with Andrew at the onset of the book, she soon finds that the rest of her life is crumbling as well. With a list of issues that includes an emotionally unavailable father, a long-deceased mother, an aging grandfather and a career gone severely off-track, Emily faces hardships in every direction. This is a story of a woman on the precipice of failure and loss on many levels, who isn’t even sure what she’s fighting to gain back, if she even had it in the first place, or if she actually has it in her to put up a good fight.
For some reason, I seem to be on a reading kick of books with female protagonists who are painfully searching to figure out who they truly are and how they want their most important relationships in life to progress. This novel held back no punches in its portrayal of a woman scared of where life is taking her, and unsure of her own value in it. Emily appealed to me in her honesty with herself, even when she built walls around her true feelings sky high, effectively blocking out the view for everyone else. Her voice rang out authentic and real, and even when I wanted to jump into the pages and shake her a bit, I found myself routing for her to find peace.
While I’m not particularly a fan of the label ‘chick lit,’ I have to admit that this novel follows in the path that many others have helped to forge, (Bridget Jones came to mind pretty quickly as I read), adding another young, independent woman on a self-awareness quest. If this is your genre, I predict that you will not be disappointed. And not surprisingly, this book’s transformation to film should be making its way to a theatre near you sometime next year!
Dawn is most likely holding a book in her hands this very moment. She can be found blogging away at my thoughts exactly.