"If ever a couple was ‘meant to be,’ it’s Tess and Gus. This is such a witty, poignant, and uplifting story of two lives crisscrossing over the years, with near miss after near miss. . . . I couldn’t put it down." — Sophie Kinsella
For fans of One Day in December, The Flatshare, and This Time Next Year, a wryly romantic debut novel that asks, what if you just walked by the love of your life, but didn’t even know it?
"TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE." Tess can’t get the motto from her mother’s kitchen knickknack out of her head, even though she’s in Florence on an idyllic vacation before starting university in London.
Gus is also visiting Florence, on a holiday with his parents seven months after tragedy shattered their lives. Headed to medical school in London, he’s trying to be a dutiful son but longs to escape and discover who he really is.
A chance meeting brings these eighteen-year-olds together for a brief moment—the first of many times their paths will crisscross as time passes and their lives diverge from those they’d envisioned. Over the course of the next sixteen years, Tess and Gus will face very different challenges and choices. Separated by distance and circumstance, the possibility of these two connecting once more seems slight.
But while fate can separate two people, it can also bring them back together again. . . .
In Eberlen's debut novel, Tess and Gus first meet in 1997, while traveling in Florence. Both are awaiting the results of their college entrance exams, and both seem to have bright futures: Tess as a writer and Gus as a physician. Gus, however, is awash in grief and guilt following the death of his overbearing older brother, unreasonably blaming himself for the fatal accident. And Tess is about to experience a loss of her own, as her mother's cancer advances and Tess's future grows less certain. Over the course of the next 16 years, as they individually fumble through romantic shortcomings, familial frustrations, and professional setbacks, the two narrowly miss one another several more times; these missed connections, however, are never particularly clever or dramatic and the narrative fails to build a case that the two are, in fact, meant to be together. In the end, Eberlen's novel is more successful as a chronicle of the way grief and loss shapes young people's life choices than it is as a romance. Consequently, the denouement lands unconvincingly.