by Natalye Childress
The Aftermath of Forever: How I Loved and Lost and Found Myself is a memoir that chronicles the romantic coming-of-age of a woman in her 20s experiencing dating in the San Francisco Bay Area. After the disappointment of a failed marriage, Natalye Childress embarks on a soul-searching journey to discover what happens when the one you thought you would be with forever breaks your heart. Using music as a vehicle to express herself, she revisits ten men from her past and paints a portrait of their relationships through the mixtapes she has made them. Her quest for love takes the form of delving into the hedonistic world of noncommittal beaus, abusive boyfriends, and friends with benefits. She candidly dissects her love life on the page as she shares the inspiring and hopeful moments alongside the awkward and painful realizations that accompany dating in the present day, when everyone is looking for something different. These men, although they leave her life almost as quickly as they entered it, collectively help shape her future as she embarks on a quest not only to find love, but to find herself. Ultimately, she learns the age-old lesson that in order to truly be loved, she needs to first love herself.