‘The Opposite of Love’ by Julie Buxbaum

Opposite of LoveHave you ever ridden the PATH train?  Well, I do. Everyday. And one never knows what you are going to see. And if you were on the train today around 8am, you would have seen me reduced to tears over this book!  In public … full on crying over a book.

I picked up this book because the main character synopsis on the book jacket reminded me of a friend {and I will not tell you which one to protect her innocence.} I picked this book up because I didn’t have anything left to read and it was on sale at B&N. I didn’t actually think it would be this good.

The writing, the story, the characters – all of it was so real. I felt like I knew Emily, that I could almost sink into her mindset, that I could be her best friend, that I was feeling as she was feeling. I got lost in the story and I became so worried to see the outcome – so much so that I actually leafed ahead {which is something, to be truthful, I do a lot but usually because I get bored with the story not because I was actually stressed about the imaginary characters – like in this case}.

And throughout I laughed:

‘When she says she wants a fag, does Bridget mean she wants to have sex with a gay person?’ Maryann, a tiny raisin of a woman with a red smear of lipstick, asks the rest of my octogenarian book club. ‘Because I think that’s a very offensive term. My grandson is gay.’

‘I didn’t know that. We should set him up with my Walter. He just came out of the closet this last June,’ Shirley says, and grabs a napkin to write down her grandson’s telephone number. Shirley is more prune than raisin, wearing her weight squarely in her middle.

And I cried, but a happy and settled cry:

‘I brought you a present, Grandpa Jack,’ I say, when the nurses stop coming in to check on him, like he has died before he has died. I reach into my bag and take out my tiara. My grandfather smiles at me and motions for me to put it on his head. I balance the tiara on his white tufts of hair, and he transforms into an infant prince. Shriveled, regal, and unafraid.

‘Thanks. Kid. Love. It.’ Each word feels like a victory.’

‘Without asking I take his newsboy cap that has been sitting on the window ledge and put it on my head. It is mine now. I don’t need something tangible like this to hold on to Grandpa Jack, but I allow myself the additional comfort nonetheless…’

It was just a nice, warm, real and refreshingly unpretentious read. And since Julie lives in NYC, I hope to run into her in the streets one day, and then we can share a cup of coffee and she can sign my book. Because she made my morning. And a woman who can feel and write like this is someone I would choose as a friend.