We’ve heard it a thousand times, “and they lived happily ever after.” But what does this even mean? We know the prince and princess are now married. We imagine the lace gown, perfect three tier cake, and the quintessential Disney-esque carriage that whisks them off to a future that is certain to be a forever honeymoon. The last part leaves us with the assumption that a “happily ever after” is not only assumed but expected after exchanging the “I do’s.” Yet what truly does occur after the “I do’s?”
This story, Forever with You answers the questions of what happened after the “I do’s” of one of fiction’s most beloved characters, Todd and Christy. There was such a demand from avid readers of Gunn to continue the story of the two, so the author resurrected the characters in this book (and others to follow) that showcases the reality of marriage. To understand the full background of the characters, I would suggest reading the books prior.
We see in these pages vows that are put to the test in a newly formed marriage- because it may be about feeling like a princess on the day of the wedding, but the forever honeymoon at Disney certainly does not exist.
Christy and Todd have comfortably nested in their California apartment that is located near their Alma Mater. Life has been cozy (not perfect) but comfortable and possibly even routine. Suddenly, unanticipated circumstances derail the newlyweds to the point where they are uncertain whether or not they can provide for their basic needs, or how they will fix an unexpected disaster in Newport Beach that impacts both of their lives. A steady comfort of daily reliability is chucked out of the window. The fundamental question arises: will they become steady with bitterness with their unsteady lives?
What does this all mean practically speaking? Will they still be able to retain their home stationed next to their Alma Mater? What is home? I will keep the circumstances vague so you, the reader, can dive deeper into the book to uncover very ordinary lovers facing turbulent times with that ever-present, ever mysterious character we seem to have looming in our lives that appears to be shrouded in said times.
I loved the relatedness of this story. The obstacles Christy, Todd, and other couples face are plot twists of familiarity. Even though “familiar” and “relatable” to ordinary life can register as big fat BORING, Robin Jones Gunn has proved her giftedness for story-telling by beautifully pacing the story in such a way that regular everyday life becomes a page turner.
Longtime readers will appreciate the reprisals of characters from past Gunn books. Katie is re-introduced with her usual humor which adds comic relief to the more serious moments. Aunt Marti is once again ushered in, reminding us that family can be a bane and a blessing; her husband, Bob provides a very interesting foil with his easy-going persona that is paired with his frantic and unnecessarily particular wife.
Reflection Concerning the Author
Whenever I think of Robin Jones Gunn’s books, I think of character driven stories that jump to life with memorable personalities. This story is another character-driven story, as opposed to plot driven. Much loved characters that have existed for decades are finally breathed into life once again where we can finally have the closure after the end of every storybook- what happened after the unspoken line “and they lived happily ever after.” We are left to redefine this line and knock down the presupposed ideals of newlywed living. Whether a long time reader of Gunn, or a first timer, this book would be a wonderful read- especially for young adult singles newlyweds, but also for anyone who simply wants to escape to a fictional world. Did I mention it takes place in California?
This was written over a year ago when I was freshly married, thus gravitating towards stories focused on marriage. I didn’t know just how much our vows would be tested in these past two years, but I’m glad I was hungry for marriage stories like Joni Eareckson Tada’s and her husband Ken’s and this one. Suddenly it makes you feel not so alone in your own struggles.