As the stack of Jennifer Weiner bestsellers grows (14 and counting), one wonders how many more tricks she has up her sleeve. When will her books start feeling like retreads? How many times can she write about women, love and Philadelphia?
The answer, it seems, is as many times as she wants. Weiner delivers yet another fresh, funny winner in Who Do You Love, the story of Rachel Blum, who grows up with a heart defect, and Andy Landis, the biracial son of a single mom. Rachel and Andy both feel perpetually different from other kids at school, so they instantly bond when they meet as kids in the hospital, where Rachel is having yet another surgery and Andy is brought to the ER with a broken arm after falling off a hotel balcony.
Rachel lives in Florida, and Andy lives in Philadelphia. It’s several years later and totally by chance when they meet up during a youth group mission trip to Atlanta. They engage in heavy flirtation and even heavier petting, but then go their separate ways. Fate continues to bring them together and push them apart over the years, even as they go to college, find partners and careers, and, in Rachel’s case, have children. Andy becomes an Olympic runner and Rachel a social worker, both finding satisfaction in their work but not their love lives.
Who Do You Love is a little steamier than most of Weiner’s books, which is to be expected in a story about two star-crossed lovers who don’t even live in the same town til they’re in their 20s. And while it is filled with Weiner’s sparkling brand of humor, it also delves into some heavy issues: Race, poverty, adultery, the perils of fame. (Although she is famously one of the godmothers of the chick lit genre, it is not unprecedented for Weiner to explore deep themes—prescription drug abuse in All Fall Down, rape in Best Friends Forever).
Although the ending feels hurried, Who Do You Love is, ultimately, a great summer read by a storyteller who may have big sales, but hasn’t always gotten enough credit for her ability to spin tales that are heartfelt, funny and satisfying.