Wednesday, February 3, 2016

REVIEW: Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

From the acclaimed author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do comes a breathtaking new novel about a young woman whose fate hinges on the choice she makes after bumping into an old flame; in alternating chapters, we see two possible scenarios unfold—with stunningly different results.

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Liferaises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.

Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 7th 2015 by Washington Square Press
Source: Netgalley
Purchase a copy: Goodreads | Amazon

Our Review

Shel: As much as I hate to admit it, there are a few bloggers who can influence my decision to try a book (sometimes) and Maybe in Another Life definitely falls into this category; it's on my radar because several well respected bloggers were absolutely apeshit crazy in love with this novel. I was so dang curious when I had the opportunity to read it, I grabbed it.
Court: And I follow whatever this woman says <---- so I jumped with her on the bandwagon. And I am in shock and I am in awe with how much I loved it.

Shel: I've been in the mood to expand outside of the usual NA/CR tropes and if you're in the mood to try something different, I think you'll find this one to be quite satisfying. Court: Yes! It is different, and it really makes one think. What would happen if I do....this. Or that. We all wish we could find out if we had made another decision, so seeing this story play out the way it does is so creative.

Shel: I explained it to someone yesterday like this:
It's kind of like a 'choose your own adventure' book from when I was a kid, the only difference is that instead of skipping ahead to the read the ending you want, you get to read both possible options and decide for yourself which one fits the Hannah you come to know. Court: I COULDN'T HAVE SAID IT BETTER MYSELF. I think each person finds their preferred path early on...or I know I absolutely did...and I found myself more drawn to certain characters. I liked that a pattern developed that I could sort of feel out what might happen next, and angsty text it to Shelley, so that she could just give me big eye emojis and I could flail around in emotional pain. Hahaha. It was worth every second though. I wanted to know where each path would take Hannah, and it helped me a lot in my own personal struggles in a way that was completely unexpected. 

Shel: I loved the premise of this book--the ability of the reader to follow the path of what ifs. We've all been there, right? We've all had that daydream thing where we wonder--what if this or that happened instead of what actually did. Well kudos to Reid because she took that idea and ran with it and Taylor Jenkins Reid doesn't hold back; she puts Hannah through her paces and absolutely does not make her journey an easy one..and you know what? I really appreciated that she did it this way. I have so much respect for writers who don't hold back and who really allow their characters to explore pain and hurt and joy and happiness. I also really appreciated that Reid doesn't create a Hannah who has all of the answers; instead she creates a Hannah that seems a little aimless, maybe a little lost, and through the various experiences in the novel, we watch her grow more certain and decisive and accepting of who she is and where she is in her life. The character arc of Hannah felt so true and natural and honest. If anything, she almost felt too real--sometimes she felt so hollow at the beginning (and I think she was) and I felt some serious disconnect with her and then as her life started changing I noticed that my emotional reaction to her became fuller, more evident, and more aligned with what she was feeling.

Court: And I think that is exactly what we are supposed to feel. Lost Hannah, and aimless Hannah is us at one point or another, and this is a fun and pragmatic way to explore those feelings. When each path shows us that life isn't always greener on the other side...I think that is a reminder that I needed. Life happens, and bad shit still happens, and so does great shit. It all comes with the territory and what we make of it is what determines our least until the next thing comes along. I am putting Taylor Jenkins Reid on my list of authors that I need to read their every work...because she moved me.

Shel: As I follow the reactions of those who read this, I'll be curious to see if people take a side about which 'Hannah' they like, which choice they prefer, which ending fits their vision best. I know for myself, I kept switching sides until the end when I felt surprisingly very satisfied with both Hannahs. Court: I was pretty decided early on, which is funny isn't it! I never really changed my mind on which universe I appreciated more, but I love how much I learned as each scene passed. I really loved this book. 

Shel: This is my first Taylor Jenkins Reid novel but if her other novels offer a similar experience, I'll most definitely be reading her others. Put this lady's books on your TBR list; I don't think you'll regret it. Court: Absolutely! Done! I thank you my dear Shel for setting me on the path to find this book. I devoured it. The writing is awesome, as is the premise. Check this one out as soon as you can! 

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