“Take a Peek” book reviews are short and (possibly) sweet, keeping the commentary brief and providing a little peek at what the book’s about and what I thought.
In this moving and enormously entertaining debut novel, longtime romantic partners Kathryn and Chris experiment with an open relationship and reconsider everything they thought they knew about love.
After nine years together, Kathryn and Chris have the sort of relationship most would envy. They speak in the shorthand they have invented, complete one another’s sentences, and help each other through every daily and existential dilemma. But, as content as they are together, an enduring loneliness continues to haunt the dark corners of their relationship. When Chris tells Kathryn about his feelings for Emily, a vivacious young woman he sees often at the Laundromat, Kathryn encourages her boyfriend to pursue this other woman—certain that her bond with Chris is strong enough to weather a little side dalliance.
Next Year, For Sure tracks the tumultuous, revelatory, and often very funny year that follows. When Chris’s romance with Emily evolves beyond what anyone anticipated, both Chris and Kathryn are invited into Emily’s communal home, where Kathryn will discover new possibilities of her own. In the confusions, passions, and upheavals of their new lives, both Kathryn and Chris are forced to reconsider their past and what they thought they knew about love.
Offering a luminous portrait of a relationship from two perspectives, Zoey Leigh Peterson has written an empathic, beautiful, and tremendously honest novel about a great love pushed to the edge. Deeply poignant and hugely entertaining, Next Year, For Sure shows us what lies at the mysterious heart of relationships, and what true openness and transformation require.
Interesting. One of the blurbs for this book mentions polyamory, and I’m not sure I’d have described the relationships in this book using quite that term… but for lack of anything better, sure, why not? If anything, I’d say it’s about how relationships don’t have to follow the one-on-one traditional format, and how different people may need different things at different times in their lives.
Chris and Kathryn, at the outset, seem to have a perfect relationship, utterly secure and utterly devoted. And if they seem a little light on passion, well, it’s been nine years, and they have such a deep soul-to-soul connection that the sex part seems not such a big deal. There’s a loneliness in their lives, though — their best friends and next door neighbors have moved away, and Chris and Kathryn as a unit of two and only two seem a bit insular and cut off from the rest of the world.
They also share every single thought and feeling they have, including their random crushes on other people. This time, though, Kathryn encourages Chris to actually do something about it. Maybe she’s hoping that he will just work it out of his system, but instead, his connection with Emily deepens from a crush to love, and Kathryn has to figure out a response. (And we know this story will go down some unexpected paths when, for example, Emily invites Kathryn to come to dinner along with Chris and Emily on their first date).
The three navigate their unusual relationship, with plenty of ups and downs. For Kathryn, it’s an introduction into a life that includes more people, more challenges, more ways of interacting with the world. For Chris, it’s a constant tug-of-war between wanting a safe, stay-at-home life with the woman (or women) he loves, versus needing to be “on” in order to keep up with Emily’s boundless energy and even Kathryn’s newer need for interaction with others.
We alternate between Chris and Kathryn’s points of view over the course of the year when their lives and relationship changes for good. While it’s hard for me to relate to Kathryn’s attitudes at time, as she both encourages and resents Chris’s growing involvement with Emily, I did ultimately come to understand why their new lives made sense for these two people. (I was also surprisingly charmed by the love and friendship that develops between Emily and Kathryn.)
The writing in Next Year, For Sure is fresh, insightful, and often funny, and I zipped through this book in about a day and a half. It might be flashier to say that this is a book about polyamory, but what I really think is at the heart of it all is a story of lonely people finding connection and belonging. I didn’t always understand the characters’ actions and feelings, but I enjoyed reading about them and considering their motivations, experiences, and outcomes.
Next Year, For Sure is certainly an unusual book with an unusual view of relationships, but I quite enjoyed reading it.
Title: Next Year, For Sure
Author: Zoey Leigh Peterson
Publication date: March 7, 2017
Length: 256 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley