That’s Not a Thing is a gorgeous, emotional, and resonant debut that will be available tomorrow, April 14, 2020! Keep reading for my review and thoughts below.
Meredith Altman’s life isn’t perfect, but it’s close. She’s an associate at a prestigious law firm and is engaged to Aaron, a brilliant and handsome doctor that literally saves babies on a daily basis. Sure, she’s not working on the sorts of cases or doing the type of work she’d initially dreamed of doing, but she’s at the top of her field and she’s worked hard to be where she is today, rebuilding her life after Wesley Latner, her former fiancé, ended their engagement and left her reeling.
When she runs into Wesley while celebrating her engagement, all of the feelings that she’s spent so long trying to bury bubble up to the surface. Things are complicated further when she learns that Wesley’s been diagnosed with ALS and has, at best, only a few years left. That’s Not a Thing follows Meredith as she navigates the reappearance of Wesley in her life and what that means for her relationship with Aaron and her relationship with herself.
This book is sad, but it’s not a sad book. I know, you’re probably asking yourself, “what’s the difference?” But there’s a big difference. That’s Not a Thing confronts a harsh reality—able-bodiedness and ability are temporary. It doesn’t matter if it’s only a matter of days, months, or years—eventually, we all lose our abilities in some way or another. To this end, the story is sad; there are regrets, there are things that, as a reader, you wish could be different. Watching Wesley, a once vibrant and dynamic person, deteriorate is a heartbreaking experience. But That’s Not a Thing is not a sad book—at its heart, it’s a book about possibility and potential.
That’s Not a Thing alternates between past and present, walking us through Wesley and Meredith’s relationship from their early days as students at Columbia to their engagement. Though we’re only given brief flashes of Wesley and Meredith’s relationship, I couldn’t help but feel completely entranced by their intensity, by the energy surrounding the two of them.
But That’s Not a Thing is not necessarily a love story. To be sure, Meredith’s relationships with Wesley and Aaron are central to the storyline, but the focus on this book is really how Meredith was and is shaped by these intense relationships in her life.
My heart ached for the characters. I knew within the first 100 pages that this was a book that I would feel completely heartsick over when I finished, and I was right. This was not at all the story I was expecting (and I had high expectations!)—it was so much more. That’s Not a Thing is absolutely lovely, brimming with tenderness and emotion and humanity. And this is a story that will stay with me long after I’ve finished.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has not impacted or influenced my opinions.