The People We Meet Along The Way, by Beth Rinyu
Publication: September 17, 2020
Would you be able to grant the same forgiveness that you’re so desperately seeking yourself?
Jillian O’Rourke’s marriage died long before her husband’s tragic accident. Years of battling with infertility and demanding careers melted their once solid relationship. Bearing the burden of guilt over his death, Jillian gets lost in despair and a series of “what-ifs”. But one chance encounter with a stranger, changes everything. Now being faced with newfound knowledge and a painful decision, Jillian must push past her anger, learn to forgive and open her heart in ways she never could’ve imagined. As she comes to grips with the devastation of her past, she learns to embrace the possibility of a future she never thought possible. A bittersweet story of love, forgiveness, and the unexpected destiny that is sometimes handed to us in life from the people we meet along the way.
This is the beautiful and emotional story of recent widow Jillian and her experiences when she takes a long-planned trip overseas alone, that she had planned with her husband prior to his death. Still struggling with grief and guilt over things that happened between them prior to his death, Jillian hesitantly heads to the airport and immediately befriends a man named DeAndre who is heading to Munich for the same group tour that she is taking. Once there, they also meet Theo and Kate and the four quickly become fast friends. Her relationships with her three new friends continue long after their trip is over and blossom into beautiful long-lasting relationships. While still struggling with her own guilt, however, Jillian learns some enormous truths where she finds herself having to forgive others, along with herself.
What I loved about the book was how well-developed each of the characters were. They truly came to life and practically jumped off the pages. I also loved the strong theme of friendship and the relationships that were built despite Jillian and DeAndre living in New York and Theo and Kate living in England. DeAndre is a larger than life character. Theo is handsome, charming, and witty. Theo’s sister Kate is quiet, reserved, but kind. My opinion of Jillian changed off and on throughout the novel, but overall she was loving, generous, easy-going, and eventually stronger than I had imagined.
I find the blurb to be a little misleading because the “big twist” that Jillian has to deal with and decide if she can forgive or not, doesn’t come until near the end of the book, maybe at around 80-85%. Up until that point, she’s still dealing with moving on from her marriage and her husband’s death while also helping friends in need. I will say, however, that this is one book where I certainly did not see the twist coming and I was completely floored! I’m not sure if I could have done what Jillian eventually did and find that sort of forgiveness in my heart but I admired her for it.
If this review seems a bit vague, it is meant to be. So much happens in this novel from the time Jillian walks into the airport until the very end and I don’t want to spoil any of it. There is grief, loss, hope, new love, and most importantly, life-changing friendships. Jillian learns so much about herself and is faced with numerous challenges along the way. This story is at once sad and regretful while being hopeful and romantic. As Jillian grows and changes, I felt that newfound peace right along with her, as well as, the betrayal she feels when everything is revealed. If you want a novel that carries you through every emotion under the sun, then this should be your next read. Beth Rinyu is an outstanding author and one of my favorites. If you have not yet discovered her talent, I highly suggest you grab this one today!
5 beautiful stars!
*Thanks to NetGalley for providing this review copy in exchange for my honest opinion!