For years after Eve’s mom was killed by falling debris on Sept. 11, Eve sticks with New York. She goes to school at Columbia, waits tables at Nobu, dates a musician and writes freelance pieces for publications with names like the American Journal of Office Supplies.
“The city didn’t care,” she realizes one day. “I wouldn’t win any awards for sticking it out in this world where I was panicking inside and my heart was always racing because of all these strangers down my throat from the second I got onto the subway each morning. . . . Sometimes, the fact that my mother disappeared into this city—was very literally swallowed up by it—instilled in me a certain amount of horror.”
So Eve decamps for Colorado, writing for a few years about music for a small newspaper and pretending she enjoys hiking and skiing and other slightly dangerous outdoorsy activities. But New York draws her back, and she sees fresh possibilities in the bright, dirty city. Over dinner with old college friends, she gets reacquainted with Ben, a fellow Columbia grad who’s now an engineer working on the plans for the new Freedom Tower.
Somehow, after years of barely noticing each other, they can’t stop talking. Remember those giddy early days of a relationship? Staying up all night, not caring that the sun was coming up, “threatening to end it all, to usher us on to the next activity. . . . We just kept doing whatever it was that we were doing, and laughed at the daylight.”
Yet Eve is used to the world shifting under her feet, and she struggles to trust that Ben is as steadfast as he seems. When Ben realizes he and Eve have a past connection, he is unsure whether to share his newfound knowledge with her.
This Love Story Will Self-Destruct is Leslie Cohen’s first novel, and it sweetly recalls the uncertainty and exhilaration of the post-college years, when life is brimming with possibilities (if not cash). Eve, as much as anyone, knows how quickly the world can change. The trick is to find happiness in the chaos.