Publisher: Washington Square Press
Published July 7th, 2015
What if everything that is possible happens?
Maybe in another life is my second book by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Previously I’ve read Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and I absolutely adored it! Reid managed to portrait such incredible female character(s) – they haunted me for a while after finishing it.
Maybe in Another Life is an earlier book by TJR and it’s not quite on the quality level of Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, but that was never an issue. It’s a different book. It’s an earlier book. Still, I really enjoyed it!
What I can say, based on two books I’ve read by TJR I can honestly conclude that she is a courageous writer. She has opinions. And she is brave enough to take stereotypes, tropes, and paradigms, and, very sweetly, break them apart.
By the end of this book, I was surprised that within the genre of women’s contemporary, chick lit, or just a modern fairytale, she twisted an idea, and showed every facet of it. The idea she balances in this book is the concept of fate or destiny. And my god, I loved what she did with it. I truly did!
“We can’t say what we would do in other circumstances. We can only know what we will do with the ones we face.”
The story is quite simple. Our timid heroine Hannah comes back to L.A. Her life story is interesting and not interesting at the same time. She was raised by her family in L.A. When she was in high school her family decided to move to London and they agreed Hannah should stay behind and finish high-school in L.A. Her friend Gabby and her family offered to take care of her as their own. Years passed, Hannah moved to college, changed jobs and, all in all, didn’t really do much in life.
She returns to Gabby’s, who is now a married woman but is still her best friend. Hannah craves a life reset and L.A. seems to be the best place for starting over.
Upon her arrival to L.A., there is a welcome party organized by Gabby with all of their high school friends, Ethan, her high school sweetheart, included. Hannah and Ethan reconnect and by the end of the evening there is a decision to be made – does Hannah go home with Gabby and Mark, or does she stay out with Ethan?
This is where the magic of the book happens, right at this moment. In the next chapters, there is a dual ripple. We follow two dramatic storylines with serious repercussions – two Hannah’s trying to stay afloat after something mind-shattering happens to them. One storyline follows Hannah going home with her friends, other is after she decided to stay with Ethan.
“… Doesn’t matter if we don’t mean to do the things we do. It doesn’t matter if it was an accident or a mistake. It doesn’t even matter if we think this is all up to fate. Because regardless of our destiny, we still have to answer for our actions. We make choices, big and small, every day of our lives, and those choices have consequences. We have to face those consequences head-on, for better or worse. We don’t get to erase them just by saying we didn’t mean to. Fate or not, our lives are still the results of our choices. I’m starting to think that when we don’t own them, we don’t own ourselves.”
Characters in both storylines question destiny, as well as the concept of choice. How much choice do we really have in our everyday lives? And how do we deal with the repercussions of our choices? Also, love is a major theme in this book. Knowing what we know, it is really interesting to see how the author tackles the idea of what’s meant to be. There were moments when I wanted to scream at the characters! To tell them what’s going on while they are completely clueless. ‘Twas fun. 😀 And as a person who doesn’t generally believe in fate, it was immensely refreshing to see how the author never says “There is no such thing as fate!”, but she does make you take it with a grain of salt. Some intelligent writing right there.
I fell in love with the characters, especially Hannah. This is true for both storylines. She is such a sweet character, with issues concerning self-esteem and confidence in her choices. Seeing her grow was very inspiring. In both cases, she managed to find love and to find Home. Also, the female friendship between Gabby and her was so well written – almost an homage to all of the Gabby’s in our lives, the friends who are there no matter what, and who keep us afloat when life goes south.
This might not be a better book than Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, but that is a good thing. It seems, Taylor Jenkins Reid only grows as a writer over time. But, I do plan on reading every book she has ever written. I think I need all the bits of TJR wisdom I can get.
You can buy Maybe in Another Life here.