Synopsis: At 32, Russell Green has it all: a stunning wife, a lovable six-year-old daughter, a successful career as an advertising executive and an expansive home in Charlotte. He is living the dream, and his marriage to the bewitching Vivian is the center of that. But underneath the shiny surface of this perfect existence, fault lines are beginning to appear…and no one is more surprised than Russ when he finds every aspect of the life he took for granted turned upside down. In a matter of months, Russ finds himself without a job or wife, caring for his young daughter while struggling to adapt to a new and baffling reality. Throwing himself into the wilderness of single parenting, Russ embarks on a journey at once terrifying and rewarding—one that will test his abilities and his emotional resources beyond anything he ever imagined.
I’ve been a longtime fan of Nicholas Sparks. I read Two By Two while on my honeymoon in December and I looked forward to the focus on the relationship between the father and daughter, taking some attention away from the relationship between the husband and wife.
Goodreads rated the book a 3.9/5 and Walmart rated it a 4.5/5.
My rating: 3.5/5
Russell Green has a perfect life. He’s married to beautiful wife Vivian and they have an adorable daughter, London, and live in Charlotte. Russell works full-time as an advertising executive and Vivian, after giving birth to their daughter, left her job to become a stay-at-home mom.
Russell works endlessly to provide for his family, often working long hours. Vivian is a dedicated mom and takes care of the home and family. While all seems perfect on the home front, you can sense that their marriage is bumpy. The communication between them is lacking.
Unhappy with his job and afraid he’s going to be let go, Russell decides to quit his job and start his own advertising business. A risky move, but he’s confident he will succeed. Vivian, concerned with Russell’s bold move to leave his job, goes back to work full-time to ensure the family is provided for.
It is evident Vivian was not happy with Russel’s quick decision to leave his job. She shrugs him off when he talks with excitement about his new business. She worries about their financial situation. In fairness, Russell didn’t inform her of his decision to quit his job and start his own business. Both ignore the situation and carry on as if it’s unimportant.
With Vivian back at work and Russell spending a lot more time at home, he soon learns what it’s like to be a stay-at-home parent. He spends his time cooking, cleaning, and taking London to school, extracurricular activities, and such.
Vivian loves being back at work and talks highly (and frequently) of her boss who she spends a lot of time with. She works long and often, and her job requires some travel. You can sense something is going on with Vivian because when she calls home while away for work, her only real interest is speaking with London. Her conversations with Russell are short and you can tell she really doesn’t care to speak to him.
The relationship between Russ and London becomes stronger. Vivian notices and jealousy comes over her as that used to be her and London. It pushes Vivian and Russell apart even more. But at this point, it’s evident that Vivian and her boss are getting a little too close.
One day, when taking London to her art class, Russell runs into former girlfriend Emily. He learns that Emily is divorced and has a son, Bodhi, who is in London’s art class. The kids immediately become good friends and Russ soon finds himself booking playdates so London and Bodhi can play together while he and Emily catch up. Chemistry begins to exist between the two, but they don’t acknowledge it and carry on as friends.
Soon enough, Russ’s business begins to see progress with clients requesting services. He’s already mastered what it’s like to be a stay-at-home parent and now his business is starting to take off.
Vivian finally confronts Russell about her unhappiness in their marriage and confesses that she’s in love with her boss and wants a divorce. What scares Russell more than the divorce is the comments from Vivian’s divorce lawyer who portrays Russ as a bad father and he becomes fearful he will lose his daughter. London is his whole world and he can’t stand to lose her.
Russ turns to Emily to talk about the situation since she is divorced and to get her feedback and advice. She eases his concerns and reassures him he’s an excellent father.
Russell’s worries are soon crushed when Vivian tells him to ignore the lawyer and that the lawyer is just very aggressive. She reassures him he’s a fantastic father and he isn’t going to lose his daughter.
Just as Vivian found love again, Russ expresses his feelings for Emily, and she informs him that she’s in love with him, too.
The story is predictable, but is predictable always bad? I don’t think so, not when you want the story to end that way. But, this book dragged on and, in the end, everything finally falls into place. But no sparks, surprises, or twists in between.
- Russell – Love him or hate him? While at times I adored Russell’s character — a hard worker, loyal husband, and devoted father — I found him to be too soft, too easy going. I wanted him to stand up for himself and fight for what he wanted. He worked so hard to make his family happy but he wasn’t happy. Eager to start his own business, all he wanted was Vivan’s support. Why didn’t he simply tell Vivan that? He’s the type who just goes along with things. He could tell Vivian wasn’t happy but wouldn’t talk to her or encourage her to express her feelings.
- Vivian – A hard head or hard worker? Vivian struck me as a hard head; her way or the highway. She didn’t like how things changed (her back at work and Russell at home) but she didn’t speak about it. Maybe she wanted to just push through the hard times, knowing she needed to work to support her family.
- Not addressing problems in a marriage. It’s obvious early in the book that Vivan and Russell are starting to drift apart and things aren’t as they used to be. Vivian or Russell didn’t address the problems they experienced. Why? I wanted them to do something: talk about it, have a huge fight, one of them leave the house, get a divorce sooner…anything. Instead, they kept to themselves for so long, both unhappy. Maybe it’s to portray the reality that many couples don’t communicate when times are rough, which severely affects their relationship.
Did you read Two By Two? What are your thoughts on it?