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First Comes Love

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In this dazzling new novel, Emily Giffin, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed, Where We Belong, and The One & Only introduces a pair of sisters who find themselves at a crossroads.
Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond.
Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.
On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately, Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.
As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover they need each other more than they knew . . . and that in the recipe for true happiness, love always comes first.
Emotionally honest and utterly enthralling, First Comes Love is a story about family, friendship, and the courage to follow your own heart—wherever that may lead.

384 pages, Hardcover

First published February 1, 2016

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About the author

Emily Giffin

54 books21.8k followers

EMILY GIFFIN is a graduate of Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia School of Law. The #1 New York Times bestselling author of eleven novels, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Baby Proof, Love the One You're With, Heart of the Matter, Where We Belong, The One & Only, First Comes Love, All We Ever Wanted, The Lies That Bind, and the recently released Meant to Be, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family.

Website: www.emilygiffin.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EmilyGiffinFans

Twitter: https://twitter.com/emilygiffin

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/emilygiffina...

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,528 reviews
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,861 reviews5,636 followers
June 6, 2016
It's hard to read a book when you dislike the main characters so much. And I really didn't connect with Josie and Meredith.

Josie and Meredith are sisters who are still coping with their brother's death, 15 years later. Now, some stories that I categorize as "women's fiction" that involve sisters feature a sort of love/hate relationship. This is more like a hate/hate relationship. Josie and Meredith fight constantly, and for extremely petty reasons. Honestly, I was sick of their back and forth right from the start, and their arguing lasts for the entire story.

Meredith is particularly annoying. I really hated how she was the typical miserable shrew wife; denying sex, angry at everyone, comparing herself to other moms around her. I know women like that exist, but I just hate how mothers and wives are often depicted this way in these types of stories. Meredith takes offense at everything. Nothing is ever good enough for her. On top of that, she is very self-involved. You would think being in her head for part of the story would make me like her more, but I almost DNFed this story at 90% because I was so disgusted with Meredith. And the way that she treats Nolan, her husband, was practically unforgivable to me. She never really communicated with him about her wants, and I found her to be cold and unfeeling to the point of callousness.

Josie was a little better, but she still was irritating. She was also self-centered, but at least she was more likable when the reader was inside her head. However, there were still problems with her parts of the story. I thought that her relationship with Gabe, her platonic best friend, was inconsistently depicted, and downright confusing at times. I also thought that her relationship with nice-guy Pete, who came across as desperate and waaaaay too agreeable, was odd, and not in a good way.

What bothered me the most about this story was how the author would present a plot thread and then just sort of... drop it. For example, the story-line with Will, Josie's ex, was built-up and built-up... and then, nothing. Why introduce it and put time into it and then have it lead nowhere? It felt unresolved. Also, the plot element of Gabe's girlfriend was treated similarly. One moment she was a source of tension between Josie and Gabe, and then she just disappears into the background. Same with Josie and Meredith's father's drinking and girlfriend, and the persona of Daniel, the dead brother. So many elements of this story were underdeveloped.

I think I was expecting more from Emily Giffin, who I remember fondly from my days of reading women's fiction. However, either my tastes have drastically changed or I just have no desire to read about miserable people making each other more miserable anymore.

**Copy provided in exchange for an honest review**

Profile Image for Celeste_pewter.
593 reviews147 followers
June 25, 2016
Short version: everyone in this book needs therapy.

Long version:

*Spoilers ahead. Because this book was so meh, I just don't care.*

I'm not really sure when Emily Giffin's characters crossed the line from being complex and realistic to whiny and unlikable, but the latter is absolutely on full display in First Comes Love.

​Giffin introduces us to Meredith and Josie, two sisters who have let their entire lives be defined by the early, stereotypical prologue death of their older brother. Since that point in time, Meredith has gone on to marry her deceased brother's best friend (and question every minute of that marriage), while Josie is obnoxious, and eternally obsessed with relationships and babies.

Guys, I'm going to be honest: it's been a few weeks since I've finished reading this book, and I still can't figure what the point of this book was supposed to be.

Was it:

* learning how to not make impulsive decisions after grief?
* Learning not to be creepy and having a baby with your best friend, when you're flirting with another guy?
* Or was it not being a complete brat to your sibling, especially when you are a grown-ass adult?

Whatever the point of Giffin's book was supposed to be, it was lost on me in the pure drudgery of this story. Because Meredith and Josie are two deeply unlikable people, who are selfish, self-centered, and clear-cut examples of why it's healthy to get grief counseling after a traumatic event.

Honestly, between the sisters bickering like absolute brats at every possible opportunity - including a SUPER awkward family dinner- their mom's obsession with remaining connected with her deceased son's one-time girlfriend who has clearly moved on, and Meredith and Jo generally refusing to take responsibility for their lives, I just can't recommend this book.

(Meredith LITERALLY runs away from her family at one point, because she's just so stressed by her so-called difficult life.. Suck it up and put on your big girl pants, damn it.)

Giffin's books have gotten ridiculous since The One & Only, and First Comes Love is increasingly making me think that the talent that shone in Something Borrowed and Something Blue was an aberration.

Final verdict: Don't bother.
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,439 reviews78.1k followers
April 2, 2016
Many thanks to Netgalley for my copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Yes, it may come as a shock but occasionally I DO take a break from my regular scheduled programming of blood, graphic violence, and disturbing content. Sometimes you just need to lighten the mood and feel girly for a hot minute, and this was the perfect read for that. I fell in love with Emily Giffin's strong characters (read stubborn and real), biting wit, and adult humor when I read Something Blue (even though I didn't realize I was supposed to read Something Borrowed first-oops) and I immediately went out and read the remainder of her books as fast as I could. My favorite Giffin book is Heart of the Matter; I was super disappointed with her last book, The One & Only. It wasn't a poorly written book, just completely different than EVERY OTHER BOOK SHE HAS WRITTEN and my poor heart thought I was done with her for good. This one, however, was right back on track with her previous work and I was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

First Comes Love: A Novel introduces us to sisters Josie and Meredith Garland. These two could not be more different which seems to cause their loving but stormy relationship hang on by a thread. Something traumatic hits their family and causes the girls to go their separate ways. Fast forward 15 years and both women are pushing 40 in the different lives they have chosen. Josie is single and an elementary school teacher who seems to be more concerned with becoming a mother than finding Mr. Right; however, she feels society does not look favorably on that order of life. Meredith is your Type-A perfectionist with the "perfect life"; she has a successful job as a lawyer, a beautiful daughter and a fabulous husband, so why does Meredith secretly wonder if she made the right life for herself?

I loved how the central theme of this novel was a combination of ownership of one's actions and forgiveness. Giffin's novels aren't just about romance; there is usually other forms of love explored in her books and I love all the dynamics that she can bring to the table without the story being confusing or off putting. I would go as far as to say she is the Harlan Coben of the women's fiction genre as she can take multiple storylines that seem unrelated and weave them together to bring forth a form of perfection that is hard to come by in fiction. A true gem of a read that would be as perfect for the beach as it is in your own home; either way you'll be transported into another story that will touch your heart.
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,743 reviews2,269 followers
November 26, 2016

Family trauma / family drama, sibling conflicts, personality conflicts, who we love and how we love and why we love those we love, everything that goes into family dynamics. The way something you said or did or thought about doing when you were five or ten or fifteen will be held against you or used to measure the person you should have become twenty, thirty years later. Life scars. How a seemingly strongly united family can come undone so that you’re left with lives lived as individuals, connecting momentarily until some old grudge is brought up once again, and then going their separate ways, living separate lives. Still, underneath it all, there’s that pause, that “if only” so and so hadn’t done this or said that… and then, poof, it disappears and they go back to their day-to-day lives. Days filled with the ordinariness of life. Jobs. Friends. Co-workers. Groceries. Cooking. Sleep. Repeat. But those who lived with us long enough ago to see our personalities forming, have seen personalities “tried on”, discarded, as ideologies develop over the years do they know us better than others who enter our lives midway through life?

There is a bit of romance, but this novel isn’t really about romantic love. It is about love in all its many forms, regrets, guilt and forgiveness - needing forgiveness, seeking forgiveness and extending forgiveness to others.

Told from the alternating points of view of two sisters, the “practically perfect in every way” sister: “The classic, driven firstborn. A perfectionist. But also sensitive and sentimental, quirky and kind.” The other sister who has imperfections, a long history of poor decisions, a long list of failed relationships, a less lucrative career without a fancy title. “It occurs to me that as different as we are in our behavior and decisions, our most basic, knee-jerk emotional reactions to really big things are often remarkably similar. And it is in these moments that I am most grateful for my sister.”

Slowly the story unfolds, like an origami swan, until you see the way that all those dents and creases and wrinkles are what make a family, like the swan, so lovely.

“there is one constant, one thing you can always count on, that not only does love come first, but in the end, it is the only thing that remains.

Profile Image for Heather.
125 reviews
July 4, 2016
"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

That's how I feel after reading First Comes Love. After being a big Emily Giffin fan for her first six novels, I was so disappointed in The One and Only. I was still hopeful for FCL though and bought my copy the day it was released. For the second time in a row though, I find myself disappointed.

Where to start? First off, Meredith is the least likeable character in a book I have read, ever. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but wow, what a negative, unpleasant person with no "root for" value. She was so mean and nasty I found myself hoping that she stays the same miserable person her entire life bc happiness shouldn't be wasted on someone like that.

Josie was a bit more likeable but slightly annoying, especially in the beginning with her Will obsession. The relationship had been over for eight years, move on. I do feel like she showed some character growth by the end at least, and I liked her friendship with Gabe (and her potential with Pete).

The big secret surrounding their brothers death elicited a big yawn from me. It didn't deserve the suspense that Giffin built throughout the story.

I don't know what it is, but something changed with Giffin's writing in the last two books. Her stories are no longer even slightly relatable, and her characters are lame. If I decide to read her next book I'm getting it from the library and saving my hard earned cash.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
November 15, 2019
First Comes Love, Emily Giffin
Meredith thought she'd done it all right, married the perfect man, had the perfect daughter, but as she grows increasingly restless, she can't help but wonder if she got the love part wrong. Josie has been happily single for years, but she wants a child. These sisters, whose relationship was strained by the tragic death of their older brother over a decade ago, now find that they need each other more than they realized.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز پانزدهم ماه نوامبر سال 2018 میلادی
عنوان: عشق اول می‌آید؛ نویسنده: امیلی گیفین؛ مترجم: شیما آبیاری؛ ویراستاران: سیدصاحب موسوی٬ محمد مرادی‌ناصرآباد؛ تهران: انتشارات آناپنا‏‫، ‏‫‏‏‏1396؛ در 450 ص؛ شابک: 9786007394410؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 21 م‬‬

نویسنده در این داستان بیش از هر چیز، عشق و روابط خانوادگی، تضادهای رفتاری، فراز و نشیب‌های روابط احساسی، و دوستانه، و معجزه ی حضور مأمنی به نام خانواده را، بنگاشته است. داستانی ست زاده ی ذهن آفرینشگر نویسنده، که با بهره گرفتن از توانایی خیال خویش، واقعیت مهم‌ترین بخش از زندگی انسان را قلم‌زده تا شايد تلنگری باشد براي بیدار شدن. عشق ماهیت همه‌ چیز، حتی شرایط نابسامان را، تغییر می‌دهد. ...؛ زندگی هماره جریان بی‌ثباتی دارد؛ آنگاه که می‌خواهید طعم خوشی را حس کنید، به سرعت شرایط دیگر می‌شود، و همه‌ چیز تیره و تار می‌گردد. آنگاه که بخواهید از چیزی بگذرید، شرایط به سامان است، تا او را برای همیشه کنارتان داشته باشید. کسی نمی‌توند بگوید، که خوشحالی شبیه چه چیزی ست. همه‌ چیز به روابط درونی آدمها بستگی دارد...؛ همه ی آدمها آن بخش از زندگیشان را نشان میدهند، که آرزو دارند داشته باشند. همان چیزی که خود دوست دارند باورش کنند...؛ چیزهای خیلی کوچکی در زندگی هست، که باعث می‌شود آدمی احساس ارامش کند...؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Laura.
638 reviews124 followers
November 6, 2021
This was a comfort read. Mostly centered around sibling's bond. It started out slow, but the main characters were fleshed out in alternating chapters. There were enough twists, half truths and secrets to move the story along and hold interest. Thanks to our local thrift shop for the free book.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,727 reviews6,662 followers
July 8, 2016
First Comes Love is a standalone, women's fiction novel written by Emily Giffin. I have a love/hate relationship with much of Ms. Giffin's work. She acknowledges that real people in the real world are irreverently flawed and she reflects these types of characters (and their frustrating choices) in her stories. For me personally, this style doesn't offer me the escape I search for in reading. Alas, I almost always enjoy books about sisters...so I dove in.

As the synopsis indicates, a family tragedy occurs and two sisters, Josie and Meredith, internalize their grief in very different ways. Ms. Giffin starts the alternating storylines of these sisters fifteen years later when the itch for change starts digging in to both of them. Based on my personal reading experience, I felt so much of the book focused on Josie, specifically her motherhood goal, causing me to forget that all the layers were meant to thread together. When the POV would switch to Meredith, I was like, wait what? My thoughts on the two storylines in general:

Overall, I liked this novel. Ms. Giffin notes one of the biggest themes in First Comes Love is being consciously aware that every moment we're in, every different stage in our lives, we can control and I loved that. I think these characters had to realize this for themselves and although frustrating to watch at times, I think they finally succeeded. If you have historically enjoyed Ms. Giffin's work then move on to this one. I may not have loved it but I did take away some food for thought. Oh, and if you have a sibling, give them a call and tell them you love them. No one is guaranteed tomorrow.

My favorite quote:
"Everyone creates a version of her life that she wishes were true and tries to believe. In other words, everyone lies on social media, or at least puts her best foot - and photos - forward."
Profile Image for Christina.
262 reviews225 followers
August 11, 2016
4 Stars!

Grief is a mystery to be lived through, not a problem to be solved.

This novel centers around two sisters, Meredith and Josie Garland. The prologue opens the story with a family tragedy, but you learn a fair bit about the family in it. Josie is impulsive, a bit of a party girl. Meredith is more reserved, an introvert. They don't have the best relationship. Then the tragedy strikes.
Fast forward in time fifteen years later. Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties and their lives have gone very differently than how they thought they would. Josie is a first grade teacher, single and living with her best friend Gabe (more on him in a bit). She can feel her maternal clock ticking away and wants to be a mother very badly, whether she has found the right guy or not. That feeling is multiplied when she realizes that her most significant exes daughter is in her class.
Meredith has a seemingly perfect life. She's a successful attorney, married to a great guy she's known all her life and they have a four year old daughter together. But Meredith feels dissatisfied, wondering whether she really made the right choices in her life. Pondering some "what if's".

The anniversary of their family tragedy is looming and secrets from the past start to surface. This story is about how Josie and Meredith confront those issues and how they come to terms with their own decisions in life. It's a story about following your heart, no matter where it may lead you.

One of the reasons I like Emily Giffin's books so much, is that the story is always original. Sure, there are some with plots that have been done before, but her characters and their actions and thoughts are so relatable. Then there are some of her novels, like this one, with a completely unique story that you haven't seen before. This book deals with a whole slew of things that I haven't seen together in a novel before, from divorce to death to artificial insemination, but Giffin really makes it work. One of my favorite things about this novel (which I haven't really seen before anywhere) was the fact that Gabe and Josie had the best friendship, a friendship that everyone should have...and the author made the friendship happen between a man and a woman, both straight. I loved the fact that not only did the author include an amazing friendship, but that it was between characters of the opposite sex. Nothing romantic ensues AT ALL between them, none of the whole "secretly being in love with your best friend for years only to find out that the feeling is mutual" scenerio (which I was totally anticipating) and I adored their friendhsip!

This was a quick read, very enjoyable, despite the fact that it dealt with some tough issues. It definitely motivates you to always listen to your heart <3
Profile Image for Debra .
2,291 reviews35k followers
January 29, 2018
3.5 stars review to follow

Received from the Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a fast read for me. Perfect for the summer months or for a plane ride. It is not too heavy but does deal with grief, relationships(husband/wife, sibling, friends, etc.).

The book opens with a family tragedy 15 years in the past. The book then fast forwards (15 years) to the future as we see Josie and Meredith, two sisters who are polar opposites navigating their lives. Meredith is married to Nolan who was her older brother's best friend. She never realized her dream of being an actress and is instead an attorney with a perfect life on the outside. Josie, a school teacher, appears to have never gotten over a past love and lives in the moment, spontaneous and carefree.

The sisters have a contentious relationship. They really seem to agree on anything. Josie is the older sister but reading the book, It felt like Meredith was older and Josie was the younger one.

Both have issues they are facing in their lives and as the anniversary of their brother's death comes closer, past fears and secrets are ready to boil over.

I found this book very easy to read. I enjoyed the characters and their story lines, even the sisters arguments felt real. The book really is about relationships, being yourself, being honest with yourself and others all while dealing with grief.

This is my first book by Emily Griffin but it will not be my last.

See more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com
Profile Image for Brandice.
857 reviews
June 30, 2018
Despite hearing praise for Emily Giffin’s books for years, First Comes Love is the first of her books I have read. It was great!

Reading the synopsis for this book, I assumed it would be an enjoyable, somewhat light, perfect for summer read. While enjoyable, and quick because I could barely put it down, the book opens on a tragic, somber note, and had a little more depth than I gave it credit for.

Sisters Josie and Meredith are left in the aftermath of a tragedy, experiencing their grief in very different ways. Now, 15 years later, the two sisters are still pretty opposite in temperament and personality, and still dealing with their grief separately.

Josie is a single, first grade teacher, approaching the age of 40, and her longing to become a mom is growing stronger. Meredith is a few years younger, married with a 4 year old daughter, and works at a big law firm. Are either of them really happy with the life they have?

While Meredith appears to be more rigid and type A, the practical person in me identified more with her than with Josie. I thought Josie seemed immature for someone almost 40, and somewhat unrealistic. However, as the story progressed, Josie grew on me, particularly in the final third of the book. I also liked all of the various and real Atlanta references to neighborhoods, schools and restaurants in the book. Parts of the story made me sad due to the tragic elements that remained throughout, but the story was very good and I had to keep reading to find out what would happen.

First Comes Love is about family, the tumultuous relationship siblings often have, and grief, experienced differently by everyone and not something you just get “over”. It’s also about love, in all of its many forms.
Profile Image for Melissa.
647 reviews28.6k followers
June 1, 2016
It’s been way too long since I’ve read an Emily Giffin book. It’s her knack for exploring the complicated relationship and her cast of relatable characters that have landed her on my list of favorite authors. After so long, this book was a reminder of just how much I enjoy her writing. There’s a big part of me that wants to go back and reread some of her greats. Starting with Something Borrowed and Something Blue.

This story is centered around two very different sisters - Josie and Meredith. Their relationship isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, there isn’t much they agree on. Except that life would be so much better if their brother hadn’t been the victim of a horrible accident, fifteen years earlier. Some of the choices they made in the aftermath of his death have resulted in regrets and it’s time to face some hard realities. Sit back and accept the way things are or make a drastic change?

It’s a real struggle for the sisters to find common ground. They don’t get one another and they aren’t exactly accepting. The alternating point of view really highlights just how differently they see the world. There are a ton of emotions packed in this one and at times I wasn't sure whose side I would take.

I struggled with Meredith’s character a little more than Josie’s. It was hard to watch Meredith unravel her feelings for Nolan. He seemed so perfect! But I guess that was just my perception. I think she ultimately made the right decision in the end.

Josie and Gabe's relationship took me by surprise. I envisioned a different ending, which yes, would have been a total cliché. I don't know if I would have made the same choice she did, but in the end it made for a different and unexpected ending, especially for a book in this genre.

On another note, it was fun to look up some of the places the author mentioned along the way. I just recently moved to Atlanta, so it sort of made the story that much more real for me.

*Thanks to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Myrna.
708 reviews
October 6, 2016
I really enjoyed this book! Giffin's books have been a hit or a miss for me. Glad this was a hit. I have to say that I was engaged from beginning to end by Josie, Meredith, and the rest of the characters. Others have said the sisters were unrealistic but I beg to differ. Many themes in this novel than your usual fluff: different relationships, love, family, guilt, and survival through tragedy. Liked the Atlanta setting too. Hope her next book is just as good (or better).

Favorite Quote: "...not only does love come first, but in the end, it's the only thing that remains. "
Profile Image for Love Fool.
283 reviews116 followers
September 14, 2016
Emotionally honest and utterly enthralling, First Comes Love is a story about family, friendship, and the courage to follow your own heart—wherever that may lead.

Maybe I'm being generous with giving this book four stars because I'm happy that Emily Giffin has wrote a better book than that horrible The One and Only. I enjoyed this book, it's not her best like Something Borrowed and Something Blue but she's slowly recovering from the one we should not speak about again (The One and Only). Sisters Meredith and Josie are complete opposites trying to figure out their lives and what makes them happy while suffering from the lost of their brother fifteen years ago.

If you are a huge Emily Giffin fan then read it, if you just enjoy reading in general I would say no rush to read this book but it should be on your list.
Profile Image for Zsa Zsa.
359 reviews64 followers
November 3, 2017
The four stars is for the moral lesson, otherwise it is a well written story about siblings, a nice one and a judgmental bitchy one who we were supposed to also root for because the story was told from both of their point of views, but if there’s one thing that’s worse than a judgmental person, is a judgmental person with a shitty life.
Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,014 reviews97 followers
December 15, 2016
I'm not sure why, but couldn't really get into the story. It wasn't the flipping back and forth, I just couldn't connect. I still enjoyed it and felt that it was written well and had good character development. I just really enjoyed Something Borrowed much better...
August 10, 2016
Josie and Meredith are sisters, but they have little in common other than the fact that they share DNA. They both, along with their parents, are trying to deal with their grief surrounding their brother's untimely death. In addition to that, Josie is an elementary school teacher and feels like she is running out of time. She wants a family of her own, but feels the tick-tick-tock of her biological clock. Plus, she still can't get over Will, her last boyfriend, who ended it with her many years ago. To complicate matters further, Will's daughter is in her classroom this year; obviously, this is a constant reminder of him. Then there's Meredith. She looks like she has it all from the outside. She's got a lovely daughter, an amazing career, and a hot husband, but she isn't happy. She hates her job as a lawyer and her marriage to Nolan is starting to crumble. Both sisters decide to take charge of their lives even if the changes maybe scary ones. Also, the night of Daniel's death isn't as cut and dry as it seems. There are many secrets surrounding it and these truths will float to the surface. Emily Giffin's First Comes Love is an compelling beach read that fans of family drama will enjoy.
Read the rest of my review here:
Profile Image for Dale Harcombe.
Author 14 books298 followers
April 1, 2020
Two sisters, Josie and Meredith. As different from each other as they can be. When tragedy hits their family and their brother Daniel is killed in a car accident, the rift between the sisters gets even wider. Meredith is married to Nolan and they have a young child, Harper. Josie is single and wants a baby even though no Mr Right seems to be on the horizon. The truth is, she is enamoured of her first love Will. But Will is married to Andrea and they have a young daughter. A popular teacher, Josie is less than thrilled when Will and Andrea’s daughter ends up in her first grade class. As the fifteenth anniversary of Daniel’s death looms, Josie and Meredith confront the issues that divide them and have to come to terms with their own choices.
This sounded like a good story about family and friendship and how tragic events shape lives. ‘One line struck me, ’Grief is a mystery to be lived through, not a problem to be solved.’ Unfortunately what the book ended up being, as far as I was concerned was two sisters jealous of each other who did nothing but whine and whinge. If that’s what having a sister is like, it made me glad I don’t have one. I could not relate to either Josie or Meredith and found them both annoying. Throughout I got sick of hearing how perfect Daniel, who died was. I found the characters shallow.
Picking the book up again became a chore. I kept waiting for it to get better but it didn’t. Hardly the ’dazzling new novel’ the publisher claims it is. I suspect given this is the second book by this author I have tried and not related to well, that maybe thus author and I are just not a good fit. That’s not to say others won’t enjoy it, so if it sounds like you kind of thing give it a go. But for me two stars is generous.
Profile Image for Britany.
967 reviews417 followers
June 20, 2016
Josie and Meredith are sisters the couldn't be more opposite of each other. Josie is the elder, but makes rash decisions, likes to party, and wonders whether she should look for a sperm donor as she's entering her late thirties. Meredith, more settled with a husband and an adorable daughter Harper finds herself wanting more from her lackluster life. Tragedy strikes and their family is never the same again. Secrets are kept and resentment builds until the end of the book when everything all falls down.

Book is told in alternating voices between Meredith and Josie. I felt the characterizations were strong, both girls reminding me of someone I know. By the end of the book, I didn't see the growth that they desperately needed to mend their broken relationship. I also found myself getting slightly annoyed with Josie and her obsession with getting pregnant and the choices she ended up making seemed slightly far-fetched. (Ok, that's an understatement!) Perfect book to read for the summer.

Thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for PacaLipstick Gramma.
503 reviews29 followers
May 31, 2016
I won an ARC from a Goodreads Giveaway.

In a nutshell? Ugh. I am so sick and tired of reading about emotionally immature characters, absolute selfishishness, inability to move on after a tragic event in their lives, and fail to recognize that others do (and fault them because they have). The blame game they play, major control and inflexibility of characters. Seriously, you are in counseling for years, and you still haven't learned that if what you're doing isn't working, God forbid, should you change it?

This is better to skip. A disappoint by a gifted author.
Profile Image for Anna at A Wondrous Bookshelf.
297 reviews99 followers
July 17, 2016
I feel the need to start this review by explaining how I managed to give this novel 4-stars when I completely disliked every character in this book. I am usually drawn to a good family drama, especially stories about siblings. So, the premise of this book was a huge selling point. Another reason that brought me to this novel was the author. I really enjoyed Emily Giffin’s Something Borrowed and Something Blue, and I was already familiar with her style of writing. Indeed, I think Giffin really shines in family drama and the description of everyday life in a way that’s interesting and smart.

This book surrounds the story of this family, the Garlands, who after losing their oldest son in a car accident become extremely dysfunctional. There is something to be said about grief and tragedy. It either brings out the best out of people, or it brings the absolute worst out of them. In the case of the Garlands, it certainly brought out the worst.

Although this story does not really have a plot, Giffin still manages to make the narrative engaging and the dialogues dynamic. The format of the novel is set up with alternating chapters between Josie’s accounts and Meredith’s accounts of their life. Josie is reaching her late 30s. She is an elementary school teacher, self-absorbed, and selfish. Meredith’s not much better either. She is an OCD type lawyer who, although she doesn’t see it, is also extremely selfish. Both sisters, together with the father and the mother have never truly processed the death of Daniel fifteen years earlier and somehow those scars have dictated their lives, their choices, and the relationship (or the lack of) they have with each other.

I really tried to sympathize with these sisters, but I just couldn’t. I believe Meredith’s complete ungratefulness and inability to see anything beyond her belly button had me brace myself not to slap her in the face a couple of times. And that is one of the reasons this novel deserves 4-stars. Although parts of the story are predictable and even impossible, Giffin’s character development was so good that I had a very clear idea of the voice and mannerisms of these characters by the time I was done with the book. This is an emotional and well-written novel with themes of grievance, forgiveness, friendship, and love.
Profile Image for Jayne.
Author 5 books21 followers
April 27, 2016
I was given a free copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is the story of two incredibly unlikeable sisters; a shallow characterization of the relationship between two sisters after the death of their brother. Giffin shares a skeletal story of two self involved women who constantly attack one another. Both grated on my nerves. Promising storylines are introduced ...then fade away with little fanfare. The one between Josie and her former flame, Will, was particularly unsatisfying as was the relationship between Josie and her best friend Gabe. The match.com/potential sperm donor, Pete, is plain creepy and if Josie had grown at all she would have recognized this. Her sister is equally whiny and one dimensional. Supposedly the mature, responsible sibling, she is as annoyingly indecisive as her sister. Unless you want to read a story that barely scratches the surface of human emotion, don't waste your time.
Profile Image for Bookworm.
948 reviews130 followers
January 10, 2020
4.5 stars

A poignant women’s fiction that explores the impact of grief on siblings and their relationships. It was easy to read and get swept into this book. After Josie and Meredith lose their brother Daniel in a fatal car accident, they each carry on with their lives and grief in different ways. Fun loving Josie is single and pushing 40. She desperately wants a child but hasn’t been able to find Mr. Right. Meredith is now married to Nolan, Daniel’s best friend. She has given up her dream of being an actor to practice law and be a mother to her 4 year old daughter. This is a journey into each sister’s life, how grief has played a role in their decisions and their fractured relationship. And at the heart of it all, a lie about that fateful evening. I was touched by this story and shed a number of tears. Another emotionally gripping novel by Giffin.
Profile Image for Sara.
131 reviews110 followers
August 27, 2016
I'm sorry but, no. The narration of this book was great as always Emily Giffin is a superb storyteller. It's the plot I have a problem with, from page one to the end I just found myself shaking my head no.
Someone may argue that this book is made of "real" people, in "real" situations, but I disagree. The stream of badness and drama has no end. It's like a reverse "Happily Ever After" story where everything instead of being filtered in pink positiveness is filtered in black drama. Long are gone the days of "Something Borrowed" where you could expect a nice story with some twists and eventually a happy ending.

Down to specifics. This is the story of three siblings: Daniel, Josie and Meredith.

Daniel: Dies in the prologue. Already we start black.

Meredith: Unhappily married. Gosh, I disliked this character so profoundly I was appalled. Meredith is an ungrateful, selfish, bitchy, happiness sucking person. Stand next to her and you'll become suddenly cold and unhappy. Oh, she's a dementor! That's what she is.

I swear I wanted to scream at her for the best part of the book. She's so mean to her sister it's disgusting. She tries to put Josie down every chance she has. I pitied her poor husband. Imagine being married to a soul sucking dementor.
Her unhappily ever after was so atrocious it was a bit of a "what the hell" moment. Here's why WTH? This was so depressing! Shouldn't be allowed in a romance novel, because, yes, this is still romance, chick lit, whatever you'd like to call it. I was sorry Giffin chose to make Meredith be friend with Ellen from The One and Only, poor Ellen!

Josie. She was a darling, but poor girl... of her two siblings one dies tragically and one is a dementor, so she couldn't be expected to do well in life. Her destiny is probably what every woman dreads: ending up close to forty, single, with no kids, and a ticking biological clock. These problems aside, her portion of the book was the only one at least partly upbeat and that it ended, if not perfectly , at least with a glimmer of hope for the future. Still her choices, even if brave, made me pity her. Because let's be honest, no one goes down that road if they're not desperate. It's nobody first choice. More of a consolation prize. Anyway, Josie was adorable, happy, and full of life.

On a final note. The parents in this family are divorced and the father is borderline alcoholic, if we didn't have enough tragedy.
Profile Image for Gina *loves sunshine*.
1,885 reviews70 followers
July 12, 2016
DNF @ 36% boo, I am sad to have given up. I just can't see this getting any better for me and everyone should really enjoy each and every story they pick up!! In another time I probably could have stuck with it because I was at least at the point where some air of mystery was starting - the how is this really going to end part? Problem is, the content is crap I hate - the problems, the dumb lying, the old boyfriend feelings, marrying for the wrong reasons, not seeing answers that are right in front of you. I couldn't even keep the 2 sister's straight as they bounced back and forth, that's how badly I connected with this. Some authors can write this stuff in a really smart and fun way, actually Emily Giffin did - but it was in a book called Something Borrowed :)
Profile Image for Margarita.
Author 1 book80 followers
June 5, 2016
Emily Giffin still is a must read author for me. First Comes Love is so good in so many ways. A great Book Club book filled with lots of important questions about life, forgiveness and love.
Profile Image for Laurence R..
617 reviews87 followers
September 22, 2016
I've been a fan of Emily Giffin's ever since I read Something Borrowed - which I know is a controversial novel - so I was very excited to read her most recent novel, since I must say that I haven't read that many books from her. I might not be part of the targeted audience for this particular novel (and I wasn't either for Something Borrowed, especially since I read it when I was about 14), but it still interested me, so when I finally got my hands on it, I couldn't resist picking it up. I wasn't disappointed, even though it's much different from what I was expecting.

I liked how the book starts with the tragedy that strikes the family, the older brother's death. Even though the rest of the story takes place fifteen years later, this particular event is truly what started this story, so I feel like it's important for the readers to know about it from the very beginning. Since I'm about the girls' age at the moment of the tragedy right now, I could imagine what it would be like to lose a sibling so suddenly and it made it easier for me to relate to them. I loved how different Josie and Meredith's reactions to grief are, because it reminds me a little bit of how different my sister and I are and that made the story even more realistic to me. Also, as someone who hasn't lost that many people yet (touch wood), it's always a bit difficult for me to imagine losing a close one, so even though it's a bit painful to read about, grief is something that has always interested me.

The main characters are incredibly well developped and they keep becoming more and more interesting. I'm not sure which one of the sisters is my favourite, because I really like the both of them, even though they can be exasperating sometimes. Seeing their relationship evolve is really interesting because at first they keep arguing and it's kind of a love/hate relationship, but as the story progresses, it becomes more about love than anything else. It was really touching to see and it felt even better than a regular rom-com.

As for the actual relationships, I think they're quite realistic, but since I have absolutely no experience in this field, I could be completely wrong. I liked seeing the start of a relationship as well as the struggles of another one, since the contrast between the both of them is impressive. Meredith's honesty and her desire to find what's best for her is inspiring, because most people don't have that much courage.

Overall, I found this story to be a very pleasant read. It's not necessarily an easy book, but I had a nice time reading it. I'd recommend it!
Profile Image for Carol Brill.
Author 3 books154 followers
May 20, 2016
I can always count on Emily Griffin for an easy, engaging read, relatable, flawed characters, and realistic conflicts. The point of view alternates between Sisters Josie and Meredith. Meredith is the responsible one, a lawyer, wife and mother. She seems to have it all but isn't happy with her marriage or job. The only thing she knows for sure is that her four year old daughter is the best part of her life.
Josie a couple of years older, is a first grade teacher, living with her best male friend Gabe. Her world is rocked when the daughter of her former love, Will, ends up in her first grade class. It makes her question her choices. She's in her late 30's, desperately wants to be a mother and worries her chance for a husband and traditional family has passed her by.
Add in a budding romance and secrets about what happened the night 15 years ago when their brother died and there is just enough drama to keep turning pages.
Profile Image for Jenny.
45 reviews31 followers
March 18, 2016
A raw, compelling, and emotionally honest portrait of sisterhood. With a master storyteller's easy eloquence, Giffin shines a searing spotlight on family, forgiveness, and the bonds that unite us. Hilarious and poignant by turns, this novel resonates long after finishing.
Profile Image for Judy Collins.
2,580 reviews360 followers
June 28, 2016
A special thank you to Random House and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Talented Emily Giffin returns following (2014) The One and Only with another gripping tale FIRST COMES LOVE --the powerful bonds of family, and at the heart, being true to yourself. When you live for others, one day the bitterness will surface, and rear its ugly head.

An avid fan of Giffin (having read all her books, starting with her first to the latest), of sisters, marriage, motherhood, family, sibling struggles and challenges. From love, loss, forgiveness, and finding the courage to move on. People leave, disappoint, and die; however, love stands strong.

The day after Daniel’s twenty-fifth birthday and three days before Christmas. He was halfway through his third year of medical school at Yale and had just returned home to Atlanta, for the holidays bringing with him his girlfriend, Sophie, a beautiful upper crust Brit whom Daniel once called the most charming woman he had ever met. The two had been dating for more than a year; however, this was her first visit to Atlanta, as well as meeting his parents and sisters.

Daniel was the golden child. The firstborn. The older brother. A perfectionist. Sensitive and sentimental, quirky and kind. A tragic accident. A sliding on a patch of ice at the intersection of Moores Mill and Northside Drive, (Atlanta) less than two miles from their home. A truck hit his car at the corner.

Where was he going the night of the accident which took his life? Out for a burger, or more? Everyone has guilt. An accident which rocked their family, and indirectly caused their parents to divorce. The devastating aftermath.

They discovered years later there was more to the story the night Daniel died. More than one memory from Five Paces Buckhead (been there many times). That night changed all their lives in ways they had never imagined.

Now fifteen years later the guilt and regrets begin to surface for the entire family. The what ifs. Choices made, their pain never ceased. Still reeling, regretting, wondering, what if. A family torn apart.

If Daniel had lived, he would have been saving lives, practicing medicine, happily married to Sophie, father of two or three children, turning forty. He understood nothing was as important as family. Love comes first. Everyone had pictured perfection in his future, now shattered.

Elaine and Rob (attorney) parents, residing in Atlanta. A broken marriage since the death of their son. A dad who started drinking. Two broken remaining sisters – total opposites. They never got along before their brother’s death, and now it seems the tension is exacerbated.

The mother is planning a 15 year anniversary in memory of Daniel. Something which occurred in the past. Good or bad, a date to remember. Tensions are high. Stirring up old emotions. Will they invite their father, who has a new girlfriend, Marcia. She wants to include Sophie. The woman they have not seen since Daniel’s death. Closure. What is her life now? Did she move on?

Alternating voices, readers hear from both sisters. They both despise one another. Keeping Secrets.

Meredith, a lawyer, in Atlanta married to Daniel’s childhood best friend, Nolan for almost seven years. Mother to daughter, Harper. She was hardworking and diligent, and more of a loner. She is very unhappy. An introvert. She loved arts. She wanted to stay in New York. She is judgmental and miserable.

She thinks her Josie, sister is self-centered and a drama queen. She loves her daughter, Harper; however, she is really not all that maternal. Nolan is a constant source of both comfort and sadness to her dad. What really drew the couple together in the beginning?

“Grief is a mystery to be lived through, not a problem to be solved.”

Meredith feels she is the child who has not screwed up. The strong one. She is even unsure of her marriage and how they were thrown together due to the death of her brother. Nolan was her brother’s best friend. A fixture in the family. Love? Now she is second guessing her entire life. What about her plays, Broadway, the theater? Lost dreams. She is bitter. She put her plans on hold.

She kept thinking Will and Josie would get married and have the grandchildren. She could follow her heart. But it did not happen. She had married Nolan, the family business in Atlanta. Her future turned into what she had imaged for her sister. No New York.

Was she really selfless and noble putting her parents first, or was she spineless? She had been determined to be their parent’s stable- the successful child; the salve, on their still open wounds. She wanted their family to be normal again. Meredith views Josie as the extrovert, party gal, and in some ways she is jealous of her, down deep. She does what she wants. Meredith and Nolan bought the family house from her mother in Atlanta. Everything to make the family seem perfect. Is she the real coward?

Classic Josie, calling shots, making demands, creating drama. Why couldn’t she be happy for her sister wanting to have a baby, even though in an untraditional way?

Josephine (Josie) is a first grade teacher in Atlanta, and grad of University of Georgia--wants more than anything to be a mother. She is more free-spirited. At age 37 she has no prospects for marriage or even dating, so she is seriously thinking of going the donor route. She is now going through profiles to pick the perfect one. She also has a roommate hipster, Gabe (they are best friends) and a big support for her. They click. It is time for a new school year. New children. Excitement. Fourteen years of teaching, she loves it. She is fun, energetic, and creative. She thinks her sister is uptight and judgmental.

To make matters more stressful, her old boyfriend and the man she was to marry, Will’s daughter is in her class at school. He is married to the perfect wife, the perfect daughter and younger son. Edie Carlisle, the firstborn of her most significant ex, Will Carlisle. They broke up eight years ago (long story behind this), and she is still not over him, completely. He shattered her world. He dumped her right before he married Andrea. The woman she has stalked. She hated herself for being mesmerized with her every move and shame at the same time.

Now she has to see the perfect family and the daughter every day; as a reminder of what she could have had. However, she likes the little girl. Now, Mrs. Will Carlisle volunteers to be room mom. Why does she have to be so nice?

From Match.com to a physical therapist named Pete, sperm donor decisions, and a strong desire to be a mom, Josie carefully makes decisions. Shop. Look. Research. Instead of her being the flighty one there is a role reversal, when Meredith starts second guessing herself, her life, marriage and career.

A drunken night so long ago. Survivor’s guilt. Everything had come back to Daniel. The fairy tale life. Especially in the South. People fake things so much. Put on a happy face and show off your perfect life. (so true). Josie was definitely a better communicator than her sister Meredith.

Giffin once again gets to the heart of the matter. I love the way my top three chick lit authors, Emily Giffin, Sarah Pekkanen, and Jennifer Weiner have taken readers from women in their 20s, 30s, and now 40s. From single, dating, to marriage, divorce, motherhood, siblings, and family.

And best of all, LOVE the Atlanta familiar settings! Where I spent my most memorable 30s, 40s, 50s—(happily divorced) with most of my friends in late their twenties and early thirties. Having lived in Vinings, Buckhead and Midtown, over the years and working in the media business, I have been to every restaurant and bar, from Bistro Nikos to Five Paces, mentioned in the book.

On a personal note:
I have to say, Blue Ridge Grill is my favorite, (near my house) there have been many gals night out, dates, and good times on the sunporch (my favorite spot), solving all our problems over appetizers, cocktails, and great company. Plus plenty of late nights and wee hours of the morning having breakfast at OK Café, across the street after a night out on the town.

I also love Blackberry Farm (TN) where I have had the pleasure of many scrumptious weekends. If you have never been there, a rare treat! All these spots bring back my Atlanta memories. I was laughing so hard about Johnny’s Hideaway. None of us would be caught dead in the place, back in my Atlanta days---I had to pick up a friend there one night and could not wait to get out. Definitely a meat market for the "over the hill" gang—Cheesy; and I do mean old with lots of spandex. Giffin described it perfectly.

A great read, mixed with wit and emotion! Gabe was my favorite character. Sometimes it takes, someone outside the family to see things clearly- the glue.

"When you are being true to yourself, you are completely honest with what you feel, deeply value, and desire. It also means communicating your feelings wholeheartedly both with yourself and others, allowing your truth to flow through you and into the world." A wise lesson for all!

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