With the big 4-0 staring her down, Maggie Piper can’t stop thinking about her less-than-perfect love life. The fear of a slow metabolism, wrinkly skin, and a ticking biological clock leaves her torn between a desire to settle down and concern her existing relationship isn’t all that perfect. So, she pulls a “Ross and Rachel”: A spontaneous request for a temporary break from her live-in boyfriend that quickly results in a breakup. Now Maggie is single once again—only twelve months from Lordy, Lordy, look who’s forty.
As she re-enters the New York City dating jungle, suitors present themselves quickly. But who’s The One? Speed-dating bachelors, a sexy coworker, or the man she already set free?
How does she know? Her fun-loving friends and supportive family, including meddlesome no-filter Aunt Helen, eagerly share their often-unsolicited opinions, but Maggie is determined to find her own way, even if she falls on her face—repeatedly.
“Chick lit with depth. Fun story with a lovable main character . . . I liked that it tackled deeper issues of aging and how it affects society’s outlook on women (read: differently than it affects society’s outlook on men), as well as men’s and women’s outlooks on love. I recommend!” —Stacey Wiedower, USA Today–bestselling author of 30 First Dates
|Publisher:||Henery Press Publishing|
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"A toast to the birthday girl!" Melanie says, raising her watermelon martini.
Jodie and Amanda lift their glasses and repeat Melanie's sentiment.
Despite my friends' insistence on taking me out, I'm not entirely convinced turning thirty-nine is worth celebrating. Just the same, I lift my drink as high as I can without spilling it all over the table and lightly clink my glass against theirs. "I appreciate you ladies coming out for a mid-week celebration."
"It's about time you joined me in the dreaded countdown to the big four-oh," Jodie says. She's only seven months older than me, but when we were roommates in college, she gloated when she turned twenty-one first. She's not gloating anymore. "And besides, your swan-like fall before was well worth the cost of a babysitter. You'd think by the ripe old age of thirty-nine you would have learned how to walk properly. But, nope equally as klutzy now as you were at nineteen. And completely sober, to boot."
I blink my blue eyes hard hoping to erase from my brain the memory of tripping over an invisible crack in the sidewalk, falling on the pavement, and exposing my leopard-print Gstring thong to passing pedestrians. "Is it bad that the sole thought in my head midplummet was 'Thank God I waxed'?"
Melanie snorts. "The thought would never have crossed my mind, which I think is worse, especially for Barry's sake. But between the lawyer gig during the day and chasing after the boys at night, my husband is just lucky I remember to shave my armpits."
"But you made time for your favorite colleague," I say. Melanie is an attorney at the New York City law firm where I work as the marketing manager.
"You bet. I'm on a one-drink maximum, though, since I have an early morning training run tomorrow."
"I'm so impressed with your running ethic, Melanie." Amanda sips her drink, then wipes the sugar from her upper lip and frowns. "I'm happy to celebrate with you, Maggie ... but didn't you want to celebrate with Doug?"
"Having a boyfriend doesn't mean I can't ring in my birthday with my girls. And you know Doug. He's not the 'let's get drunk during the week' type of guy." Doug and I have been dating for almost three years and share an apartment, but I'm very proud that I've never let my relationship with him get in the way of time with my girlfriends. "I couldn't possibly tackle another birthday without a drink. Anyway, he's taking me out for dinner on Saturday night, and Sunday we're celebrating with an all-day Joss Whedon television festival — back-to-back episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse. Doug even dug out the old-fashioned popcorn maker from the back of the closet."
Melanie pushes her fiery-red, fringe-style bangs away from her green eyes and smiles at me. "Fun. You guys turn watching television into an art form."
"Where is he taking you on Saturday?" Amanda asks.
"No idea. He's surprising me. But it's not like it's a landmark birthday. Thank God," I say, muttering the last part. There is a rolling in my stomach at the thought of turning forty in three hundred and sixty-five days. I take an extra big gulp from my drink to speed up the intoxication process so I'll feel better, at least temporarily, about this impending milestone.
"You still have an entire year, Mags. I only have five months. And nine days," Jodie says, faking a shiver.
"But at least you've been married. And have kids. I'm certain turning forty wouldn't bother me as much if I felt like my life had changed more since turning thirty, aside from me sprouting a few more wrinkles around my eyes."
"As of last month, I'm officially divorced. And I thought you were iffy about the whole kids thing," Jodie says.
Amanda looks at me with raised brows. "You are?"
"I'm undecided." I remove the elastic band from my wrist and pull my dirty blond hair into a long ponytail. Even with the keratin smoothing treatment I splurged on to keep my naturally wavy hair from getting out of control, it's too humid to feel my hair on my back.
Amanda runs a finger along the sugar rim of her glass, then licks the skin clean. "Don't you think you should figure that out?"
"What is there to figure out? If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it wasn't meant to be." The truth is, I don't know if I want to be a mother, but I hate the stigma associated with being forty and childless. I also loathe knowing if I wait too much longer, my "mature" eggs will make the choice for me.
"What does Doug say about it?" Melanie runs her hand across her bangs again. Since she chopped her ginger locks from long layers to a sleek, shoulder-length bob, she's constantly playing with it, almost as if checking to make sure it's still there.
"Whether or not to have kids is not a popular discussion in our home. Most couples plan a marriage before they plan a family, right?" From where we are sitting outside on the patio, I peer inside the dimly-lit lounge, noting how much more crowded it's become since we arrived. At least as the birthday girl, I won't be expected to go up to the bar. Birthdays are good for some things.
"Speaking of which, I think Doug should shit or get off the pot. It's been almost three years," Amanda says matter-of-factly.
"Who said I want to get married?" Amanda has been single since we met four years earlier and I sometimes wonder if her propensity to see everything in black and white is one of the reasons.
Amanda gapes at me, her already large hazel eyes wide as saucers. "You don't?"
"I don't know," I say, looking down.
"That's a popular answer this evening." Jodie finishes off her martini in a single swig. "Did any of you watch The Bachelor last night? What is up with all of the crying? Kleenex should definitely get some advertising spots."
"Train wreck central," Melanie agrees.
"It was the most dramatic rose ceremony yet," Amanda says, laughing.
I glance at Jodie with my heart full of love and gratitude for her successful change of the subject. She is one of the few people who know I struggle with being certain Doug is the one. Though I'm in love with him and care for him deeply, I sometimes lack the butterflies and that "can't live without you" feeling I always thought meant true love. If it does, and Doug isn't the one, am I wasting time that should be spent on finding the man who is? And, at almost forty, has that window already closed? Is passionate love only available to the young?
I know I will have to work through my feelings eventually, but it's not something I want to do on my birthday. The truth is, I know I want to get married. I'm just not certain I want to marry Doug.
But my heart also aches at the thought of losing him.
Several hours later, I stumble into my apartment and change out of my clothes as quietly as possible to avoid waking a sleeping Doug. Hungry, I open my refrigerator and survey the contents. Considering I went food shopping on Sunday, I'm disappointed with the choices. The problem with food shopping sober is that nothing I buy is the slightest bit appealing when I'm tipsy. I open the refrigerator to remove the bag of frozen edamame when a pair of arms embraces me from behind. I feel Doug's warm breath on my neck as he whispers, "Happy Birthday, babe" in my ear.
I turn around and see him smiling down at me, the dimple in his left cheek pronounced. "Thank you, sweetie." At five foot eleven, Doug is five inches taller than me. I reach up and wrap my arms around his neck. I kiss him softly on his full lips before giving him a squeeze. When we pull away, I lean my back against the refrigerator. "I'm hungry."
Doug moves closer to me. With a glint in his green eyes, he says, "What are you hungry for?"
I bite my lip and give him a guilty look. "Food?"
Doug cocks his head and grins. "Too many cocktails, huh?" He knows when I've had too much to drink, I'm more interested in spooning than sex.
I shake my head, but then confess, "Yes. In the morning. I promise." I almost always wake up in the mood.
Doug kisses my forehead. "That's okay. I can tell when you've over-imbibed by the color of your eyes — red, white, and blue like the American flag. Your less than delicate movements down the hall are also a giveaway. You sound more like a sumo wrestler wearing clunky shoes than a one hundred and something pound woman in bare feet."
"I thought I was quiet," I say, dropping my chin.
"You weren't." He yawns as he runs a hand through his unruly blond hair. I do love that he still has a full head of thick locks. Then again, he's only thirty-six.
I poke him in his trim belly. "Wanna make me something to eat?"
Doug nods. "Least I can do for the birthday girl if she's not in the mood to get laid." Gesturing toward our breakfast bar, he says, "Have a seat." Then he sticks his head in the refrigerator. With his back to me, he calls out, "Frozen pizza, eggs, or pancakes?"
I sit down on one of our red leather bar stools and place my elbows on the yellow counter. Along with the frosted glass wall that separates our bedroom from the living room, the bright and colorful kitchen is my favorite part of our apartment. "Something less fattening, maybe? I'm turning forty, and my metabolism is slowing down."
Doug turns around and raises an eyebrow. "Have you been lying about your age? I thought you turned thirty-nine, not forty."
"Same thing," I mutter.
"Not the same thing. Besides, you don't look your age. You certainly don't act like it either."
"What are you getting at, lover boy?" I tease. I definitely party more than Doug, but it's not like I'm going to raves or doing keg stands with the college kids.
Doug sits down next to me and plants a kiss on my chin. "It means you're fun and full of energy. More than me, and I'm supposed to be the younger one." He smiles. "Peanut butter and jelly?"
I smile back. "Perfect. Wanna split the sandwich with me?"
"You only want half? I promise you won't get fat from eating the entire sandwich, and you'd still have a hot body if you did. I'd still ravage you." As he says this, he runs two fingers up and down my arm and then rubs the constellation of freckles around my wrist — he calls it my "freckles bracelet."
I let out an involuntary giggle — my wrists are very ticklish — and squirm from his touch. "It's not about the calories. I'm in a generous mood is all."
Walking back to the refrigerator, he says, "Aren't you sweet?"
He prepares my sandwich, carefully spreading the crunchy peanut butter on both sides, just the way I like it, without getting any peanut butter or jelly on the counter. I woke the poor guy out of bed with my drunken loud footsteps, and rather than complain, he's making me a snack. I adore this man and am acutely aware of how lucky I am to have him in my life. I want more than anything to accept him as the one for me. I walk over to him and stand on my toes to kiss the back of his neck. "I love you," I whisper.
Doug turns around and smiles. "I love you too." Handing me my half of the sandwich, he raises his own half in the air. "Bon appetit."
I take a bite of my sandwich. "How was your day?"
I am charmed by Doug's boyish love of chocolate milk and observe him beguilingly as he downs an entire glass without taking a breath. "Like any other day, except better since it was my girl's birthday."
"I like being your 'girl.' It makes me feel nice and young."
"I prefer 'lady.' You're my lady. Has a nice ring to it." He winks. "Except it makes me want to break into song. You're my lady. Of the Morning."
Laughing at his off-key rendition of the Styx song, I say, "I thought you were going to say, 'except you're no lady.'"
"I'm hoping you won't be much of a lady come morning, if you know what I mean." He waggles his eyebrows suggestively.
I roll my eyes. "You're so corny."
"But you love me."
"That I do."
As I lay in bed later, wrapped in Doug's arms, I try to push aside the stubborn streak of doubt that lingers in my gut. I remember the day I met Doug almost three years earlier on the subway. I was meeting Amanda to watch post-season baseball at a bar uptown when I instinctively touched my left ear and noticed the absence of the diamond stud I wore almost daily. My mom bought me the pair for my thirty-fifth birthday, and I couldn't bear the thought of losing them. I got up from my seat and paced the train car, praying I had lost it while confined in that small space. Doug, ever the gallant guy, asked me why I was so troubled, and when I told him, he solved the mystery of the missing earring almost immediately. It was actually still on my body, dangling miraculously from the collar of my trench coat. It was the first of many times Doug helped me find lost items. If Doug isn't the one, where do I go from here? Forty is like a train approaching me at warp speed while my shoelace is caught in the track.
I wake the next morning to a dull headache from too much vodka and Doug's erection against my back. Despite my mild hangover, I'm feeling amorous, and I flip over to face him and plant a kiss on his collarbone. He gives me a lazy grin as if he's still half-asleep. "How's the birthday girl feeling this morning?"
"No complaints." I scooch closer to him and wrap one leg over his. "How are you?"
Doug adjusts his body so he's hovering on top of me. "I'm good, too." He slides down the length of my body, taking my panties down with him. "What's this?" he asks, tapping the Spider-Man bandage on my knee with his thumb.
"It's nothing. I fell last night."
Doug looks up at me. "You fell last night? Why didn't you tell me?"
"Because it was nothing."
"Seriously? Aren't you a bit old to be falling down drunk?"
His assumption irritates me and I sit up. "I wasn't drunk."
Doug raises an eyebrow. "Pardon me. I meant 'buzzed.'"
Pushing him off of me, I vault out of bed and face him, hands on my hips. "I'll have you know, Mr. High and Mighty, I fell before I even had one drink. I tripped on the street. And I assure you, it was not a result of inebriation. Apparently klutziness is not an attribute I'm apt to grow out of in my advanced age." It's true most of my nights out include indulging in alcoholic beverages, but Doug knows I rarely drink enough to catch more than a light buzz.
Doug doesn't respond as he releases a heavy sigh and drops his gaze to the floor. Casting it back on me, he says, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have assumed."
I grab the blanket we had thrown on the floor last night and toss it back on the bed. "No, you shouldn't have."
Doug pats the bed next to him. "Have a seat."
I sit and let my feet dangle over the edge of our bed. I can't look at him. I'm too bothered he jumped to conclusions, and I'm hurt he suggested birthday drinks should be reserved for the younger crowd. As if there's an age limit for having fun on your birthday.
Rubbing my thigh in a circular motion, Doug whispers, "I didn't mean to upset you."
Finally, I turn to him. "And if I had fallen down because I was drunk? Would it have been the worst thing in the world?"
Doug slowly shakes his head. "No. Of course not. I just worry about you."
I stand up. "I'm a grown woman. You're supposed to be my boyfriend, not my dad." As the words come out of my mouth, I'm fully aware I tend to fall for men who want to take care of me. Maybe because my own father did the bare minimum. Mitch, the guy I dated before Doug, was ten years older than me. At over six feet tall, he would always lean down and lovingly button my jacket when we went out, while I beamed up at him, inhaling his spicy aftershave. I often wondered if I saw him as a lover or a doting father figure. We broke up amicably after about nine months when his job relocated him to London. I might be attracted to men who watch out for me, but judging my social drinking habits at my "advanced age" is not the same as removing crumbs from my hair or fixing my remote control.
Doug stands up and places his hands on my shoulders. When I refuse to meet his gaze, he lifts my chin, forcing eye contact. "I know. Let me make it up to you." He motions toward the bed.
I have completely lost the mood by then and am grateful to see it's already eight thirty. I shake my head in regret. "Gotta get ready for work. Rain check?"
"Of course." Doug regards me with sad eyes. I know he's sincerely sorry for upsetting me. I kiss him on the cheek and head to the bathroom.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "How Do You Know?"
Copyright © 2017 Meredith Schorr.
Excerpted by permission of Henery Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Meredith Schorr hits the nail on the head in this book that shows what many of us have gone through finding ourselves single on the cusp of a big milestone birthday. Maggie is fun, witty, and best of all true to life in this story of what do you do when you realize your life isn't going the way you planned.
Meredith Schorr is a terrific storyteller, and How Do You Know? is the first book from her brand new series, Seeking Happily Ever After. This realistic story captured my attention from the very beginning with its entertaining plot, lively characters and New York City landscape. Since I grew up near NYC, I was able to identify with some of the restaurants, streets and venues, which resulted in many feelings of comfortableness. This is the story of Maggie Piper, a thirty-nine year old marketing manager completely obsessed with turning the big 4 0. Maggie is single, smart, and beautiful, yet due to societal norms and her own insecurities, has difficulty navigating her future. Luckily, she is surrounded by some very good friends who help and support her through this tenuous year. Maggie's decision to take a break from her loving, longstanding, and comfortable relationship with her boyfriend Doug, is the straw that broke the camel's back. Ms. Schorr does an amazing job of evolving Maggie's character from a caterpillar into a butterfly. Overall, this is a well-written, emotionally charged book with a great cast of characters. It has a vibe reminiscent of the popular Sex and the City series, with Maggie being a more cultivated version of Carrie's character. I loved how Ms. Schorr used matzoh ball soup as Maggie's anchor to good times with her family. This story has a wonderful and engaging ending, which continues to make me smile whenever I think about Maggie and Doug. I can't wait for book two! Complimentary copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Another good read from Ms. Schorr! Did I enjoy this book: I did enjoy Ms. Schorr’s new release. It was a good read that went fast and kept me reading from beginning to end. I laughed. I was sad. I was hopeful. I experienced it all. I enjoyed watching Maggie grow and come to terms with herself. You can’t help but love Maggie. She’s real, klutzy, comical. She’s down-to-earth, relatable. I’d go out for a drink with her and her friends during Happy Hour. And I loved the ending. It was fabulous. And not at all how I thought it was going to end. I think How Do You Know? will relate to quite a few women, their status notwithstanding. I don’t think it matters if you are in your early twenties, turning forty, single, or married, we all asked ourselves, “How do I know?” What was funny to me was that I remember thinking that I would be in Maggie’s position when I hit 40. I would bet most women have thought that, or at least considered it. Some may be experiencing it. Whatever the circumstance, you will get what Maggie is going through. All-in-all, a good read! Would I recommend it: Yes, I would recommend it. I would recommend all of her books. Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
In How Do You Know?, author Meredith Schorr weaves a wonderful women's fiction story that is a must read for every woman. Maggie Piper is on the cusp of turning thirty-nine, and as she takes stock of her life, she realizes that her biological clock is ticking loudly, and wonders if the various life milestones are out of reach. Realizing that she is at a crossroads in her life, and only has a year until she hits the Big 4-0, she embarks on a personal journey of self-discovery that will teach her a valuable lesson that life milestones don't happen on schedule, and that age is just a number. I absolutely loved following Maggie's story, she is a sassy lady that anyone can relate to. I saw so much of myself in Maggie, I found myself smiling as she pondered the various life milestones, I too once found myself in her shoes, so I couldn't help but cheer for her as she embarked on her year long personal journey of self discovery. Author Meredith Schorr weaves a lovely story that is like a breath of fresh air, it flows so smoothly that you can't help but find yourself immersed in Maggie's story. There is enough drama, humor, laugh-out-loud moments, and even a bit of food for thought that makes you stop and ponder your own life's journey. How Do You Know? is simply a refreshing food for your soul kind of story that will stay with you long after the last word has been read. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I love the fabulous book cover featuring the famous landscape of the city that never sleeps, I wouldn't expect anything less from a true New York girl.
Hello midlife crisis for women! What wasn't there to like about this book? I related to Maggie so much. This book was written in such a fashion that you would believe it to be true or based on actual life events. Maggie doesn't want to settle for just any relationship so what better way than to take a break from your current (and great) relationship to find out but will your 'love' wait for you to find out if it is a happily ever after? Break ups, work flings, and speed dating are all involved! You will need to read to find out 'How Do You Know' if Maggie finds her Happily Ever After!
This is the first novel I’ve read by Meredith Schorr and I loved it! Maggie, the main character, is very likeable and funny. Her big question of “is he the right one” and all the doubts and self questioning about love, marriage and children were easy to relate to and you felt her anguish and heartache along her way to find true happiness. “How do you know?” is a well written and funny book with a great storyline which makes you want to keep turning the pages. I loved her interactions with her group of girlfriends and also the involvement of her family in her life. Definitely looking forward to reading more from this author! 4 1/2 stars rounded up to 5
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings The final countdown for Maggie Piper as she approaches 40 years old and with a book divided into months, it was a great way to read it. Maggie starts the book in a relationship with a guy, but she is not sure he is the one and she doesn't want to enter 40 years old in a dud relationship. She wants a break, but he does the break up. Setting the book up by month and ending a month after her 40th birthday was great! I loved reading month by month how she was doing approaching the milestone birthday. Let's talk about her friends! I loved that they were a main presence in her life and each had something going on, but it wasn't overly dramatic and they didn't steal the spotlight. It was so fun to read about a group of women who would definitely admit to obsessing over men, but their careers and families were still on the main stage.
I saw this one on Net Galley and grabbed it up because the premise sounded interesting because it's a bit different. Unfortunately, this wasn't a good fit for me. The story was a bit blah and depressing. It felt like a "coming of age" story but the main character was almost 40. And there are a few "scenes" that were just crass (not even romantic). I didn't see the point in adding those bits in except to be racy. The ending wrapped things up nicely and gave an inkling of a happily-ever-after, but it was almost too little, too late for me. I received a free copy of this book through Net Galley in exchange for my fair and honest review.