All Your Perfects, by Colleen Hoover
"When you meet someone who is good for you, they won't fill you with insecurities by focusing on your flaws. They'll fill you with inspiration, because they'll focus on the best parts of you."
This is a sweet, romantic book about a marriage in trouble. It's not all sweet, though, there's some spice in there too, and some major heartache, but I enjoyed the read from beginning to end, largely because I believed I was in good hands. This is the first book I've read by Colleen Hoover, but from the beginning she drew me into the relationship between Quinn and Graham that left me needing to know what happens.
Quinn and Graham might have the quirkiest cute-meet I've ever read: they meet in the hallway outside of Quinn's fiance's apartment, while her fiance is in the process of screwing Graham's girlfriend. Ouch. And yet, despite the horrific first meeting, they find a connection and the romance of the decade commences.
The book flashes back and forth between "then" (when Quinn and Graham started dating) to "now" (seven years later). It's almost hard to bear, seeing the differences in their lives and their love for each other after time has passed. They are struggling with infertility, and it is an issue that has destroyed many couples. The crux of the book comes down to what makes a marriage work, and what makes a marriage worth saving.
"Our marriage hasn't been perfect. No marriage is perfect. There were times when she gave up on us. There were even more times when I gave up on us. The secret to our longevity is that we never gave up at the same time."
All Your Perfects was a quick read, and one that I didn't want to put down. As a reader, you are desperately telegraphing to the characters to keep on working at it, to work through their problems, especially as all the heartache is interspersed with the cutest honeymooning couple you could ever want to be a part of. I really liked the set up of the book, I really liked the concept, I was absolutely sniffling in some parts and I think this is a very sweet read.
I just had two issues, and they are not huge and kind of nit-picky, but for me kept it from distinguishing All Your Perfects with an ultimate, super high five star rating. Well, I suppose the two issues are kind of one, as I found both Graham and Quinn were somewhat flat, as characters.
Quinn, in the "now" parts of the book, is obsessed with becoming a mother and lets this take over all other things in her life. I have not suffered from infertility, and I can't imagine how painful it is. The book is very good at describing the throwaway, casual remarks that people make, which have the effect of tearing other people open inside. I'm positive I've been guilty of this before. There is the assumption that a couple is looking to have children after marriage, and a kind of vague "why not?" if it isn't happening. But I found Quinn's character to be a bit melodramatic, every smile is forced, there is nothing she enjoys in life anymore. However, this could be very insensitive of me, because I've never been through that specific hell of wanting the one thing I cannot have. I just wished she would sit down and open up to Graham already!
And to Graham. It may be ironic, considering the title of the book, but to me he was a little too perfect. Or maybe that's just the fantasy. I could never imagine a man (or a woman!) to be that sensitive and that understanding and that perceptive, while they were also incredibly angry and frustrated. It just seemed too planned that Graham always saw exactly what was needed to be seen, and said exactly the right thing in order to make things right again. That being said, he might also be my new book boyfriend, as long as we are all aware that that (making a general circle around the fictitious character) is as fantastical as a dragon.
Spoiler alert, so if you haven't read the book yet don't scroll down past the attractive people canoodling:
What I really loved about All Your Perfects is that it did not end in a pregnancy. I was worried about that from the start, like, here is everything you could have possibly wanted, you can ignore your issues. But Quinn is finally forced to confront the issue that had been tearing her, and her marriage, apart for so long when she had her emergency hysterectomy - at that point there was nothing more to fight for, she couldn't cling to anything else, she had to look to her present and future as it was, not as she wanted it to be. I wonder if she hadn't been forced into a hopeless situation, would she just have continued to flounder and hope and flounder again, bringing everything she loved down with it? But the end was very satisfying, with a lovely happily ever after (in Italy!!) and I was so so happy that those two lovebirds had figured their shit out.