Sam, who devotes herself fully to her career, finds herself forging a mostly one-sided friendship with the controversial guru, and, spurred on by Hannah, quickly forgets about her standards while pushing away the most important people in her life, on a journey to heal from wounds she didn’t know she still had. Merkl excels at character development as Sam’s growing relationship with Hannah spotlights their unhealed wounds, stemming from their respective childhoods, giving the tale a rich backstory. Readers will sense Sam sliding down the wrong path but also understand why that trajectory is necessary for her eventual comeback.
With crisp dialogue, a vivid sense of New York City, and prose that refreshes like a summer cocktail, Sam’s story upends the old-fashioned theme of women needing men to heal them from failed relationships. The Anti-Wife movement itself fascinates, seeming invitingly bold at first as it encourages women to get comfortable in their own company and “live life like you mean it—single AF,” but of course Hannah’s teachings turn very toxic very fast. Readers will simmer with tension when Sam loses sight of everything she once held dear, but cheer as she finds her way back and maybe even learns to love again.
Takeaway: Left at the altar, an exec gets caught up in an anti-marriage movement in this sharp summer read.
Great for fans of: Kristan Higgins, Elaine Dundy.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A