The Best of Us
By: Joyce Maynard
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: 9/5/2017
My Rating: 5 Stars From New York Times bestselling author Joyce Maynard, a memoir about discovering strength in the midst of great loss--"heart wrenching, inspiring, full of joy and tears and life." (Anne Lamott) In 2011, when she was in her late fifties, beloved author and journalist Joyce Maynard met the first true partner she had ever known. Jim wore a rakish hat over a good head of hair; he asked real questions and gave real answers; he loved to see Joyce shine, both in and out of the spotlight; and he didn't mind the mess she made in the kitchen. He was not the husband Joyce imagined, but he quickly became the partner she had always dreamed of.
Before they met, both had believed they were done with marriage, and even after they married, Joyce resolved that no one could alter her course of determined independence. Then, just after their one-year wedding anniversary, her new husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. During the nineteen months that followed, as they battled his illness together, she discovered for the first time what it really meant to be a couple--to be a true partner and to have one.
This is their story. Charting the course through their whirlwind romance, a marriage cut short by tragedy, and Joyce's return to singleness on new terms, The Best of Us is a heart-wrenching, ultimately life-affirming reflection on coming to understand true love through the experience of great loss.
From the author of (2016) Under the Influence, Joyce Maynard once again delivers a mesmerizing and beautiful journey and love story.
I loved THE BEST OF US! A deeply moving and powerful tribute. One of the best memoirs I have read in 2017.
Raw and honest, a poignant and beautifully written memoir that accompanied me for a 20 hr. car ride in bumper-to-bumper gridlock traffic while evacuating Hurricane Irma from South Florida. This was supposed to be a birthday weekend trip with my sons coming into town from NC to Florida. Then with IRMA, the hotel canceled and the airlines. Not happening.
Recalculate. Now, I had to evacuate and leave Florida. The perfect book would be THE BEST OF US. Loaded on all my devices and synced to my car. I knew she would carry me through.
What was supposed to be a trip to Highlands, NC (Western Mountains north of Atlanta) to escape Florida and IRMA on Thursday before the upcoming disaster. With only two roads out of Florida and 7 million people in South Florida trying to evacuate. This would have been a 12-15 hr drive.
However, it turned into a 20 hr. drive and never even got out of Florida, much less cross into Atlanta or NC. I could not wait to get out of the car and no hotels on this strip of the turnpike. I only made it a little north of Orlando, in Ocala, FL. (On a normal day, would take you 4 hrs.). At the end of the Florida Turnpike, when I saw I-75 after driving all night, lack of sleep, lack of fuel for travelers, overcrowded highways, and no vacancy; you can bet I grabbed the first hotel I could find when they had a last minute cancellation.
I recall sitting there in the heat, trying to decide where to go, with my A/C running at a truck stop on the turnpike with hundreds of stranded families with their children and pets, sitting in my car listening to THE BEST OF US.
I looked around at all the hundreds of families that may never see their homes again and are sleeping in their cars. While listening to Joyce and her brave fight as well as Jim's courage and tenacity.
I am currently riding out the impending storm here in Ocala, FL at the same hotel for its duration before I can return home to Palm Beach. This central location may still face issues as well, but at least I will not be on the waterfront in South Florida. Still waiting it out until Monday and beyond to see what will happen.
Without the audiobook, to accompany me on this stressful journey, narrated by Joyce, not sure I could have made it thru this time. I always purchase her audiobooks. Her voice is spellbinding. Her stories grab you by the heartstrings and never let go.
While listening, filled with anxiety and stress worrying if I would (will) have an apartment to return to on the water, top floor in West Palm Beach and on the heels shortly after my dad's death in June (heart) and mom's (cancer) last August, I had to take a moment to think beyond my current situation, while listening to this beautiful and heartbreaking love story. I related on so many levels. I have so much to be thankful for. Her voice was calming and soothing.
Being around the same age as the author, and single (divorced), I found it refreshing —two courageous and talented people were able to find one another and bring so much joy to one another if only for a short time.
From the love, tears, fears, and sorrows, I adore Joyce Mayard's writing and highly recommend this amazing book. Flaws and all, she shares a personal story with passion, heart, and soul; filled with humor, wit, love, grief, honesty, and raw emotion. From the darkest hours to the magical moments.
An added bonus for the audiobook readers, the author, and Jim share their wedding vows. Priceless! Readers, you have to meet Jim. An incredible man and one which will not be forgotten.
An inspiring story! For readers who enjoyed When Breath Becomes Air.
Highly Recommend the author and this amazing book. Buy the audio!
The New York Times: Read More about Maynard's story
"This haunting story, penned by a master wordsmith, is a reminder to savor every loved one and every day." - starred review, Booklist
"In this touching memoir, Maynard (To Die For; At Home in the World) chronicles her second marriage. She beautifully renders the joy of falling in love later in life and the pain of watching her husband die of pancreatic cancer. Maynard's heartfelt story will resonate with those who have lost loved ones." - Publishers Weekly
"The Best of Us is so candid, so deeply moving, so powerful . . . a testament to human resilience. Joyce Maynard is unfathomably heroic." - Joyce Carol Oates
"I love this new work. I think it is the most important writing of her life--profound, heart wrenching, inspiring, full of joy and tears and life." - Anne Lamott
"Filled with passion and humor and beauty and aching sadness, The Best of Us gets at the heart of what love is: a willingness to open your heart completely to another person despite the risk of heartbreak." - Christina Baker Kline
"Joyce has captured her all too brief time with Jim in The Best of Us with her characteristic honesty and with so much love that my heart broke and soared on every page. Everyone needs to read this book." - Ann Hood
"Maynard's lyrical, moving, break-your-heart memoir will make you love a little harder, appreciate each second a little more, and shake your world in the best of ways." - Caroline Leavitt
"This fiercely honest book is as much about life as it is about death. We understand the magnitude of Maynard’s loss because she has shown us the magnitude of her gain: the transformative joy of finding love in her late fifties. I could not stop turning the pages." - Anne Fadiman
"Joyce Maynard's memoir of life, death, and love is written with honesty, intimacy and a generosity of spirit that left me weeping, and in awe. I loved it." - Abigail Thomas
"The Best of Us is shattering in the best possible sense. With exquisite honesty, bravery, and large-heartedness, Joyce Maynard gives us a love story that we read breathlessly, even though we know how it will end. This is a beautiful story about the complexity of ever daring to adore another human being. I was moved and transfixed." - Dani Shapiro
"Oh! This book! Tender, insightful, ruminative, soaring. To find such love and then to lose it, and to capture so much of its beauty on the meager page--Joyce Maynard alchemizes life-numbing pain into dazzling prose." - Hope Edelman
About the Author
Joyce Maynard first came to national attention with the publication of her New York Times cover story, “An Eighteen Year Old Looks Back on Life”, in 1973, when she was a freshman at Yale.
Since then, she has been a reporter and columnist for The New York Times, a syndicated newspaper columnist whose “Domestic Affairs” column appeared in over fifty papers nationwide, a regular contributor to NPR and national magazines including Vogue, O, The Oprah Magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, MORE, Salon, and many more. Her essays have been widely published in collections, and featured in The New York Times. As a fiction writer she has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo.
Maynard is the author of fifteen books, including the novel To Die For and the best-selling memoir, At Home in the World—translated into twelve languages. Her novel, Labor Day, became a motion picture in theaters January 2014, adapted and directed by Jason Reitman, and starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. Her latest novel, After Her, was released August 20, 2013.
The mother of three grown children, Maynard has taught at writing programs around the country, and runs workshops in both fiction and memoir at her home in Oakland, California. She also runs workshops at other sites in the US and internationally, including the Lake Atitlan Writing Workshop in San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala, which she founded in 2002. She performs as a storyteller with The Moth in New York City and with Porchlight in San Francisco.
Joyce got married in June 2013, after twenty five years as a single person. Read an article she wrote about her love story here. Her husband died in June 2016. She wrote this piece in his final days. Read More