Trenton Reads

Our literary adventures …

Review: The Opposite of Love

In the opening pages of Julie Buxbaum’s debut novel The Opposite of Love, New York City attorney Emily Haxby reminisces about her recent break-up with her boyfriend of two years. At first glance, Emily seems flippant about the split, which she initiated. Andrew is perfect on paper – an emergency room doctor who actually changes the toilet paper roll and cleans the hair out of the shower drain, he was on the brink of proposing to her – but the reader assumes she just didn’t love him. After all, her biggest regret seems to be the setting she chose to break the bad news (a barbeque joint.)

As the novel unfolds, however, it becomes evident that Emily’s feelings for Andrew were much deeper than it originally seemed. She does love him, and she misses him, enough to lay aside her pride and make a fool of herself trying to win him back. There is a lot going on beneath the surface with Emily that hinders her ability to trust in happily ever after. Her mother died when Emily was only 13 and her father is distant and emotionally unavailable, completely absorbed in his political career.

Emily’s law career and her relationship with her paternal grandfather provide interesting subplots. As a junior at a huge firm, she has to fend off the inappropriate advances of a senior partner and gets stuck working with him on a big case that she finds ethically offensive (think Erin Brockovich, only Emily is defending the bad guys.) Her grandfather is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease and she has to make many of the decisions about his care, while dealing with her own feelings about losing the only family member she is close to.

If all of this sounds a little heavy, don’t worry – it’s not. It is a quick, easy read, a great beach read in fact. I read it while vacationing in Florida, sitting on the balcony of a beachside condo. The book is full of interesting, likeable characters. Once I started reading, I didn’t want to put it down. The best part is that, as the reader, you really get inside Emily’s head – and it’s funny in there.

Related Reviews:
Book Reporter
Jenn’s Bookshelf

Reading Group Guide


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