There are a few couples out there that get, no matter the moment, an unwavering show of support from the world and that we know are meant for the long-haul. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, George HW Bush and Barbara Bush, and now, the new generation of young women has Thomas Rhett and his childhood friend turned wife, Lauren Akins. As someone who loves Thomas Rhett’s music and a good book, I was so pleased to get my hands on an early copy of Lauren Akin’s new memoir, Live in Love: Growing Together Through Life’s Changes. Want to learn what created this love story that everyone’s singing about? This book delivers, but it might not be what you expect.
This is Lauren’s memoir, not Thomas Rhett’s, and that’s important. This is the story of a wife, before she was a wife and a mother, and how she ended up where she is today–someone that inspires record-breaking love songs and admiration about the country. As someone who grew up in a single parent home, with a lot of love, but not exactly a lot of neighborhood friends, I was amazed at this book and how special Lauren’s childhood seemed. She truly met lifelong friends next door, had an amazing experience growing up, and feels, to me, to kind of embody that “All American” childhood we all dream of–running around with our friends,sleepovers, cookouts, football games, all that jazz. This section of the book is a little more boring than the rest of the book, but I believe it truly sets the stage for the Lauren Akins we know today, and that makes it worth the read.
If you’ve ever heard a Thomas Rhett song, you know that his love for Lauren is long-lasting. “ I’ve been waiting on her since the second grade,” he writes in his song Life Changes, and while that may be true, their love story is a little more complicated.Like so many of us, they didn’t know how good they had it together until they were apart, and I really enjoyed how open Lauen is about her love life in this book and the way she and Thomas Rhett ultimately came together. No spoilers here, but I thought it was a lot more realistic than his songs make it seem sometimes, and that to me was beautiful. These people are an epic love story, sure, but it wasn’t always so obvious they would end up where they are today.
Of course, this book is called Live in Love: Growing Together Through Life’s Changes, and it delivers on the growing pains.As someone who doesn’t follow them extensively but enjoys his music, I was shocked to read some of the stuff Lauren wrote about her struggles as a young mother and wife being married to a rising star who, she admits, wasn’t always there for them even as he was working hard to provide for them. Whether you’re married already or not, this section of the book was so moving and such a great message about the work of marriage and love and how marriage counseling can be a saving grace and not just a bandaid. I truly believe this book will do wonders for the acceptance of counseling and struggles in a marriage, because no one denies that Lauren and Thomas Rhett have a deep love we can all admire–but life’s changes can put us in a tough space, and it’s okay to admit everything isn’t perfect all the time.
This book is about the picture perfect love story we all sing along to and the work that it takes to keep that story going. It’s uplifting, it’s eye opening, and it’s a pretty honest read. Of course, there’s also something really special buried in those pages: the story of their adoption of their first daughter, Willa Gray, from Uganda, and the magical moment that Lauren picked up the little girl off the floor and realized she never wanted to put her down. If you’ve ever considered international adoption, you’ll be fascinated by this aspect of the book but I think that more than anything, it contributes to the reader’s understanding of how faith and deep love have kept this love story alive for so many years and inspired so many of us to want to learn more and live our own love stories.
Whether you’re a country music fan or not, whether you’re married or not, you’re going to take a lot away from this book about the power of love, the power of faith, and the ways we all fight to keep the love we love alive.
Live in Love: Growing Together Through Life’s Changes is on sale wherever books are sold August 18, 2020, and Lauren Akins will be going on tour for the book.