I did more than just read this story. I felt it. Not every book seeps in through those cracks in your heart to explore all that exists inside it, but this one did just that. In a most thought-provoking way, these characters led along a messy, complicated, and authentic emotional journey that had me slowing down to drink in each word, one sip at a time.
Every character in this story answered the same question, much as we might do in our daily lives. What if? That question can be casual and nuanced, or it might be serious and specific. It doesn’t matter whether your eight or eighty-eight, the desire to wonder about alternate life paths is a natural one, even if we might instinctively keep it private, not wanting to share those thoughts with others.
Ms. Denton, in her signature style, invites us into the lives of these characters alongside their chaotic circumstances. She gives us the opportunity to not only escape reality, but also the chance to navigate it. Regardless of gender, age, or socioeconomic status, we are all presented with choices. Some are created through situations that are under our control, while others are thrust upon us unknowingly. Either way, it’s inside these moments that we discover who we truly are as a person.
It’s ironic how there seems to be an invisible connection between authors and the messages shared through their stories. The secrets we keep often hide the most important part of ourselves. It’s the theme of my most recent novel, but it complements my thoughts about this story by Ms. Denton so well. When it comes to inspecting the lives of Mac, Edie, Graham, Kat, and Riley, each has their own secret thoughts which reveal an important part of who they are.
Having the courage to own those thoughts and to be at peace with the messy places they may lead might not be easy, but it’s in that space where we grow and become the person we’re meant to be.
As a child, I used to read these choose-your-own-adventure books. Presented with an important choice after each few pages, you are redirected to a new path. You could read the same story, over and over again, and arrive at a different ending each time. That won’t necessarily happen with “The One You’re With”. While the words in this particular story might always logically lead to the same final page, the thoughts provoked while unfurling each of these character’s stories lays out an imaginary path for our minds to ponder. We’re free to meander and consider all the possibilities, to consider each of the choices that helps us come to a peaceful and resolute answer to our own version of that ever-important question… what if?
Dave’s Rating: ☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️
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