First-Time Reader: GIFing My Way Through The Time Traveler’s Wife

First-Time Reader: GIFing My Way Through The Time Traveler’s Wife

Also known as: How Many GIFs of People Crying Can Fit Into One Post

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This post contains major, huge, epic spoilers for Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife.

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Now, I’d never read TTTW before…

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I know, I get that reaction a lot.

So I decided to celebrate the Zola ebook release of this great novel by recording my reactions to major plot events with GIFs.

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Shut it, Eugene. It’s a great idea.

Continue at your own risk if you haven’t read the book… or if you’re far wiser than me and were on this bandwagon long ago, please enjoy laughing at the shattering of my naiveté.

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Now people speak very highly of this novel. To quote my friend Kimberly, “That.Book.Is.Amazing. I don’t even like fiction and I seriously LOVE that novel.” We can discuss her dislike of fiction later, but her recommendation really pumped me up to begin reading it.

So I start happily, thinking I’m going to read a cute story about time travel and love.

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(Dear past self,

You are a fool.


Future You).

Then I find out our friend Henry travels au naturel…

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Alright, Niffenegger, you have my attention.

“Attractive nude time traveler” is a great hook, but I’m not sure if I like that he just pops away (I know, I know, it’s involuntary) and leaves Clare like:

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But then Henry says:

“I love meandering through the stacks at the library after the patrons have gone home, lightly touching the spines of the books. These are the things that can pierce me with longing when I am displaced from them.”

And I just

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Did I mention him and Clare meet for the first time in a library?

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Well, it’s technically the first meeting for him but she actually has known him almost her entire life. This is when things start to get a little loopy and you have things like Clare thinking she’s quoting future Henry but is actually quoting her present self.

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The two meander back to Henry’s apartment and once again I’m dying of happiness because his apartment is my dream apartment:

“My apartment is basically a couch, an armchair, and about four thousand books.”

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Things get super cute when a five-year-old Henry time-travels for the first time and meets up with his older self. They walk around the Field Museum of Natural History together after hours and eat Oreos.

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But things take a rough turn when Henry meets a young Clare.

Our daughter, I think sadly, would have looked like this.

WHAT? Why are you saying that, Henry? You and Clare are soul-mates! Does something happen? Can you not have kids? What’s going on?

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One night Clare stupidly brings Henry to a party with her and has him hide out in the car. Then her drunk friend Helen decides to go scope things out and climbs into the car with Henry.

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But Drunk Helen redeems herself by attempting to quote Sherlock Holmes—I really connected with that.

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That’s also the night that Henry (32) first tells Clare (16) that he loves her.

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Well, Henry’s told an older Clare before, but it’s the first time younger Clare is hearing it. So she decides that it’s the perfect time to seduce him.

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Oh, Clare! So young, so stupid. Thankfully, Henry handles it pretty well.

Unfortunately not all men in Clare’s life are as chivalrous. Don’t even get me started on her date with that tool Jason.

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That’s the first glimpse into how dark the novel gets, and things only get worse when Henry finds out.

And I’m still processing what Clare and Henry do to Jason later.

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Here I am expecting a love story, but the edge on this novel is an excellent surprise!

I also knew going into it that it would tug at my heart strings, but learning about Henry’s mom and her accident really choked me up.

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Then Clare and Henry have me thinking about free will and predetermination.

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My night threatens to be overtaken by a flood of “What am I doing with my life? Does it even matter? Do I have any power? Am I just dust in the wind?” but I shake that off and continue reading on as Henry goes to meet Clare’s family for Christmas.

This does not go smoothly and Henry disappears from Christmas Mass.

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He comes back.

And to make things even better, he asks Clare to marry him!

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All of a sudden things are looking up. Future’s bright, kids!

Then Henry realizes he’s only positive that he lives until 43, and I want to find Niffenegger and tell her:

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Why can’t they just live happily ever after?!

Oh and while we’re on the subject, am I the only one who thinks Gomez is secretly in love with Clare and kinda wants to get Henry out of the picture?

I don’t trust him.

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The wedding day approaches and I’m wondering if Henry will disappear or make it through the ceremony.

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Clare and Henry’s rendevouz before the wedding…

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Gomez kissing Clare on the mouth at the wedding! WHO CALLED THAT LIKE THREE GIFS AGO?

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What is wrong with him? Does he not care about subtlety? Stealth? Ever heard of it, Gomez?

Then he’s all staring at Clare in the bookstop when Henry is RIGHT THERE.

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Gomez thankfully goes away for a while and I meet Doctor Kendrick and I’m really not sure how I feel about him.

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But he’s helping them try to get pregnant, which is great… until the miscarriage.

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Then Clare’s mom dies and I realized I’m running out of sad crying GIFs and why did people ever tell me to read a book that would just continue to break my heart over and over again.

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And then Henry decides to drive when he’s upset over Clare and their miscarriages, and I’m screaming at the book.

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My attentive nature tends to fall off when Kendrick starts talking about genes.

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And then, after they’ve been trying and fighting and struggling to have a baby, future Henry tells present Clare that they do one day succeed!

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But stupid present Henry doesn’t know and goes to get a vasectomy without telling Clare!

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Right?! What are you doing, Henry? Look at your life, look at your choices.

Thankfully that doesn’t work and Clare gets pregnant!

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And then has another miscarriage.

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Remember when Clare has sex with 33-year-old Henry while 37 year old Henry is sleeping beside them? Cause I do.

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What I’d like to forget, though, is Henry’s meeting with their daughter Alba, when he finds out that future Henry’s dead.

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This began the start of actual tears—you know, of not just dramatically claiming to be crying when in fact I was just feeling sad. No, no. Now, with every turn of the page, I begin to dread Henry’s final day.

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I try to look on the bright side: safe delivery! Healthy baby girl Alba!

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(That one is not a gif: don’t be alarmed by lack of motion, friends.)

But I’m paranoid and worried about Henry. In one chapter, he travels back and it’s the last day young Clare will see him for two years. All of a sudden they remind me of another tragic time-traveling couple:

Trouble is, it’s all back to front. My past is his future. We’re traveling in opposite directions. Every time we meet I know him more, he knows me less. I live for the days when I see him. But I know that every time I do he’ll be one step further away.” —Doctor Who, “The Impossible Astronaut”

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But Niffenegger keeps things light, and suddenly we’re at Clare’s 18th birthday.

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This time, both Henry and I think Clare has actually slept with Gomez in the present…

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Anytime Henry’s age jumps forward, I worry I’m about to read his death.

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Then Henry gets Alba’s DNA without Clare’s approval…

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… and his feet! Henry’s feet! NOOOOOOOO!

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What if he time-travels and can’t walk?! What if he travels into a lake? What if he travels into a road and gets run over?

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When Henry tells Alba he feels like shit and makes her cry.

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Sensing his time is near and knowing Clare is useless in the kitchen, Henry teaches her how to cook and suddenly I’m torn between hunger and sadness.

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At this point I have to put the book away to look at my life and wonder:


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I brace myself and return to the book.

A sex scene. Okay, that can’t be bad, right?

One Last Time.

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Every page flipped is a page closer to the end, to his end.

And when Henry begins to say his goodbyes at their New Year’s party, I just about lose my mind.

Then he dies.

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But not before leaving a letter for Clare to read once he’s gone.

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Gomez, Clare! STOP!

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Henry told Clare in the letter that he’d come back to see her one last time when she was very old. So after her almost-tryst with Gomez, she raises their daughter Alba and waits for Henry to return.

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In conclusion, if you haven’t read this book and you’re going to pick it up, you need to know that you will love it but it will break you.

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So just suck it up and

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Kelly Gallucci
Kelly Gallucci is the Executive Editor of, where she oversees Bookish's editorial content, offers book recommendations, and interviews authors like Leigh Bardugo, V.E. Schwab, and Sabaa Tahir. She's just coming off of moderating an author panel at New York Comic Con. When she's not working, Kelly can be found color coordinating her bookshelves, eating Chipotle, and binging Netflix with her pitbull. She is a Gryffindor.


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