I’ve done a few spoilerific blog posts about Nate, but it’s Jack’s turn. If you haven’t read the entire Emi Lost & Found series (Lost and Found, Time Stands Still and Never Look Back), please go read those books and then come back here for my post.
This is just me, defending my characters and the decisions they made. Again, a few people have made some comments, and while they’re entitled to their opinions, I’m entitled to the Truth According to Lori (which is simply my opinion, to you). 🙂
Somewhere between the middle and end of Never Look Back, Jack gives Emi an ultimatum: if she loves Jack more than Nate, then he wants to be with her. If she doesn’t, though, he can’t be second best. One reader says this moment in the story made her like Jack less. It made me like Jack more. Sure, he could have gone on with his life letting Emi walk all over him, punch him when she was mad, get super emotional anytime Nate was brought up. He could have been a doormat. He could have lived his life accepting that his love for Emi was enough for both of them, and even if she loved Nate more, Jack got her in the end. He could have done those things, but he wouldn’t have gotten his happily ever after, and I think he deserved it.
One thing I love about Jack is his confidence, but let’s face it. His confidence is founded on his own feelings and a little faith. There’s nothing concrete there, and insecurities will get through eventually. Emi lost her best friend, her lover, the man who was to be the father of her child. Emi had a lot of baggage with Nate. Jack was accepting of nearly all of it, but he wanted to hear one thing from her. He wanted to be Emi’s choice, and not Emi’s fate. To me, he was completely justified in giving her this ultimatum, and I think when he delivered it, he knew she would choose Jack because he knew she did love him more, and love him best (and was completely caught off guard when she didn’t meet him at the airport).
Emi just kept holding on to her past, with or without knowing it. She needed a wake up call. When Jack made her choose, it was more than a year and a half after Nate had died. They’d dealt with other obstacles that had the potential to keep them apart. Nate was always an underlying issue. Jack brought him to the forefront, that’s all. He didn’t ask her to forget about him, or to never bring him up again. He wanted her to know his insecurity here, to know that he had needs, too. So much of the beginning of their relationship had been about her. For this union to work, he wanted some attention, too. He wanted to know they were committed at the same level to be assured they could give equally to their partnership. Once she said the words, that was all he needed to hear. Now confident in his knowledge that she definitely felt the same about him that he felt for her, Jack didn’t flinch every time Nate’s name was brought up. There was no longer that lingering question. He felt so confident, in fact, that he brought Nate back into their lives by partnering up with Donna, creating Nate’s Art Room, building a gallery for him, and putting Emi’s office inside that gallery space. He knew Nate inspired his to-be wife. He encouraged this. Jack couldn’t have done that without having her affirm that her greatest love was for him.
Another reader feels that Jack coerced Emi into wanting kids. She always wanted kids, and after she had been pregnant with Nate’s child and lost it, there was a void in her life that stayed with her from the day she miscarried the baby. It was Emi’s self-doubt, her questioning of why things happened to her, that made her think she wasn’t meant to be a mother. Plus, by building that wall, she was testing Jack. She was giving him a way out, warning him that he may never get a family with her… period. She didn’t want to be a let down, nor did she want to be someone he resented later on in life. She was just trying to tell him that babies may not be a given. It may not be in the cards for them… she didn’t want to disappoint him. She couldn’t bear to see the heartbreak on his face if they ever had to face such devastating news months or years down the line. Emi needed Jack to assuage her fears, to dig beneath them and show her what she’d already known in herself but was too afraid to see again. She didn’t need to be convinced that she wanted children. She needed to be convinced that God wasn’t sending her a message that she shouldn’t be a mother. She also needed to be convinced that Jack would be at her side, no matter what happened. Just like she told him, she wanted to be enough for him. I think he convinced her of that, but also convinced her that enough wasn’t what either of them wanted. They would be happy together, but they would be happier with a family – if not in actually having one, they’d be happier doing whatever they could to create one.
Lastly, someone thinks that Jack and Emi should have waited longer to adopt a child. Jack and Emi both firmly believe that all things happen for a reason. They also both realize that they don’t want to waste another moment of their lives. Emi has learned the hard way that life is short, and by proxy, so has Jack. When they met Livvy, something clicked with each of them, individually. It wasn’t a conscious moment. It was love at first sight. They pursued adoption with her, but would have settled with simply finding a good home for an orphaned girl that stole their hearts, so they devoted all of their resources to making that happen. For once, luck was on their side, and their devotion to Livvy’s well-being paid off in everyone’s favor. If someone placed a million dollars in front of you, and you happened to want a million dollars really badly, wouldn’t you take it? Or would you think, “well, it’s payday, and I have plenty of money today. Maybe it’ll be there next week, when I need it?” No! You’d take the money and run! You’d seize the opportunity. That’s what they did. Carpe diem. It was a decision they made as individuals first, then solidified it with plans as they worked together as a couple. Luckily, adoption doesn’t happen overnight anyway. If at any time they felt it was too soon, or that this wasn’t the right child for them, they could have backed out and found a better home for her. But ten months after they met this little girl, she legally became a Holland, and like the book says right on the cover, they never looked back.
Never once have I questioned the decisions these characters made. I think, if put in their shoes, many people would react in the same manner. It’s a given, though, that many people would not. That’s the joy of free will, I guess.
Anyway. Those are just some things I’ve had on my chest this week. Reviews make me think. They make me think hard, and sometimes, they make me doubt the story, my talent, etc. It’s not always rational, but then neither am I. Sometimes I have to get my rebuttals down “on paper.” Sometimes I keep those thoughts to myself… but other times, like today, I just feel a little defensive of stories. Today, I wanted to defend my sweet, sweet Jack.
Thank you all for reading and posting your comments… because I do respect them all and like that they challenge me to delve further into the psychology of these characters who seem very, very real to me.