WARNING: This particular review will contain tons of spoilers and opinions. If you are faint of heart or easily offended, I suggest you stop reading this post immediately. P.S. Don't say I didn't warn you. Thank you! Enjoy!
I first picked up Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed over a year ago, in between reading hordes of historical fiction. It seemed light, fluffy, and easy to read - the perfect transition in between two such verbose and informative material.
The minute I picked it up, I was immediately hooked. Ms. Giffin certainly has a way with words. She is able to write and create characters that are so relatable, you feel like these are ordinary people that surround you in your daily life. Reading her work, meeting her characters, feels too much like catching up with old buds. Her characters are obviously human beings - they are flawed, they are repentant, but not overly so. Their world moves fast, just as ours. There's no time nor luxury to wallow in self-pity. It's difficult to find fault in a scenario so carefully and meticulously carved that it closely mirrors our own.
However, beneath the enjoyment with her world and words, I found myself suffering with mixed emotions regarding her characters, as well as her plot. Clearly, Ms. Giffin's gift is not just in writing but in storytelling as well. In case you haven't surmised as much, this is not your run of the mill chick-lit. Maybe in some aspects, there will always be similarities within all romance-centered novels, but there's something about Emily's books that provokes thought. It is not something that just passes your time; it stays with you. You mull over it. You ponder. To think, it has now been a year later, with a film adaptation coming out this May, and I still can't decide on how I well and truly feel about these novels (there's a second book called Something Blue).
"Rachel White and Darcy Rhone have been best friends since childhood. They've shared birthdays, the horrors of high school and even boyfriends, but while Darcy is the sort of woman who breezes through life getting what she wants when she wants it, Rachel has always played by the rules and watched her stunning best friend steal all the limelight. The one thing Rachel's always had over Darcy is the four-month age gap which meant she was first to being a teenager, first to drive, first to everything
... but now she's about to be first to thirty. And Darcy still has a charmed life. On the eve of her thirtieth birthday, Rachel is shocked to find herself questioning the status quo. How come Darcy gets a glamorous job at a PR firm and the perfect boyfriend, while Rachel grinds away at her despised job as an attorney and remains painfully single. Is it just luck? Or, looking back at their friendship and their lives together, is it a bit more complicated than that? Then an accidental fling complicates everything, and it's time for Rachel to make a few hard choices. And she's suddenly forced to learn that sometimes true love comes at a price ..."
To summarize, perennial good-girl Rachel, and her BFF wild-child Darcy have always had a friendship alien to most females. There's no competition. Or so they thought. While Rachel thought and felt she has never begrudged Darcy the limelight, nor does she mind taking second place next to Darcy, there was always that slight resentment brewing after every silver medal. Now, years later, Rachel finds herself in love with Darcy's fiance, Dex - the man Rachel has loved ever since they attended law school together, and way before Darcy ever came into the picture. When a drunken, or rather not-so-drunken on his part, chance fling occurs after her tete-a-tete with Dex on her 30th birthday, Rachel comes to realize that you have to fight to get what you want in life, and the cost can kill you in the attempt.
To begin, what kind of person sleeps with her bestfriend's fiance? Rachel was written as a paragon of virtue, a person you should aspire to be. However, can you really juxtaposition a sin this big beside a saint? It is a testament to Emily's skill as a writer that she was able to do this. Rachel, our protagonist, was sold as a good girl. She was a victim of circumstance, and I guess you could say the same about both Darcy and Dex as well.
Darcy, on the other hand, has always been the devil-may-care type. She was selfish, narcissistic, and rude. But can you truly say that she deserved what was done to her by the two people she loved and trusted the most? She had her failings, but does that mean that the punishment was Rachel's and Dex's to give?
Yet no matter how large the faults of our two female leads may be, none of them compare to that which belongs to our leading man, Dex. Dex justifies him cheating on Darcy with Rachel by admitting that he has always carried a torch for Rachel, but never thought she returned the sentiment. He felt like it was a crime against nature not to act on the feelings he and Rachel had for each other. How very much like a man to not consider that there was more to this torrid affair than him cancelling his wedding. Never did he think of the effect it might have on Darcy's and Rachel's relationship.
The biggest problem I have with this book, and the cause of my apprehension, is how I feel it romanticizes and glorifies cheating. Rachel, someone who is so great, cheats with her bestfriend's fiance. Yet amidst the tawdriness of the entire scenario, it is difficult to not root for Rachel. She is an underdog and she doesn't mind. It's about time she received something she deserves... but at what price?
Some of the questions I found myself asking after reading this book is how far could you go for love? And how far should you go? And would you go? At what point do you tell yourself, I have crossed the line and I'm not willing to go any further? Or would you rather throw caution to the wind and not care about who you run over in the process, including the person who loves you the most? What sacrifices can be fairly made for love? Can cheating be justified when it involves real, honest to God love? Is it okay to purposely hurt someone if you feel they aren't good enough people?
Something Borrowed, while truly an amazing novel, is a book that can be misconstrued as a justification to cheating, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. It's important to me to have clear feelings with my novels and characters as I tend to re-read and re-visit and re-connect with these friends of mine. I always learn something new from them, and they just seem so full of knowledge and wisdom -- a veritable fountain of never-ending advice. As of right now, I still haven't re-read Something Borrowed and I'm still unsure of my feelings. I guess, with more time, I'll come back to see if my view on it stays the same.