Forever Is the Worst Long Time

Lake Union: Amazon. Feb. 2017. 284p. ISBN 9781477818381. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781503941618. $14.95. F
When James Hernandez meets his best friend Rob's fiancée Louisa "Lou" Bell in 1988, and she utters the prophetic words "this story ends with loss," he knows two things immediately: Lou isn't like any of the other girls whom Rob has dated, and James is blindingly in love with her. His love of Lou, unfortunately, stops him dead in his tracks. He fails to finish any of the novels that he's started writing, he damages his romantic relationships, and he gives up an academic track for a more middle-of-the-road career. Then Lou and Rob go through a separation, and a one-night stand between Lou and Jim leads to a baby girl, Emerson. James and Lou eventually form a platonic parenting relationship and James marries another, realizing that his life became stuck in his pursuit of perfection. But life isn't always perfect, and it does always end in loss. What matters is love.
VERDICT Pagán's (Life and Other Near-Death Experiences) bittersweet novel, which takes place from 1998 to 2016, deserves a wide readership among women's lit readers.

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