This book surprised me. At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, but in the end, I couldn’t put it down.
The story begins with the incident pictured on the cover of the book. One day in December, Laurie is riding a bus home from her London job. She’s tired, and just wants to get home to the flat she shares with her old college roommate, Sarah, and open a bottle of wine. Then something amazing happens. She looks out the window, and sees a man waiting at a bus stop … their eyes meet … it’s love at first sight … but he doesn’t get on the bus, the bus moves on, and Laurie thinks she will never find him again.
She spends the next year looking for “bus boy” in restaurants, bars, on the street – London’s a big city, but surely she’ll run into him somewhere! Eventually, she does, when he shows up at a house party as somebody else’s date. He’s a nice guy, but Laurie falls into a spiral of confusion – does he remember her? is he in love with someone else? Is she recalling a moment that didn’t really happen?
We follow a decade of Laurie’s life, as Jack (“bus boy”) enters her social circle, and their lives become intertwined. They become close friends, but they’re never single at the same time, and Laurie’s memory of that first sight of Jack is always hanging in the air between them.
I was skeptical in the beginning because I don’t like the “love at first sight” trope, and it seemed like the story was going to be predictable – but it wasn’t. Laurie’s romantic ideas about Jack come back down to earth once she gets to really know him.
The story vacillates between Laurie’s point of view and Jack’s (each is the narrator of alternating chapters), so the reader becomes familiar with each one’s thought processes. The author writes men and women equally well, and I could really hear each character’s voice distinctively.
I don’t want to spoil the ending. It’s what you think – and it’s not. Jack and Laurie’s story ends up being very real, very complicated, and full of conflicting emotion. Both characters grow a lot through their time together.
It’s a winner! Highly recommended.