Happy Thursday, Part 3!
Today, we're also honored to share the review for Maybe in Another Life, by Taylor Reid Jenkins.
It's a funny, charming book on what happens when twenty nine-year-old Hannah Martin returns to LA, and is given two very different lives to live out.
Read on for why this book should absolutely be on your summer reading list!
Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 7th 2015 by Washington Square Press
Format read: E-ARC via publisher
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 Life raises 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.
This is a funny, sweetly-written book on trying to find a person's right path in life, and whether fate is something that finds you, or if it's something that you need to actively seek.
Things that worked:
What I loved about Hannah from the very first page, is the fact that this is a girl who just isn't sure where her life is going. She's explored many different things, has considered different paths, and just isn't sure which step to take next.
Reid's depiction of Hannah's uncertainty is very true to life - it's something that I'm definitely feeling as I get older - but what's more important, is the fact that Reid doesn't make Hannah dependent or pathetic as she tries to figure things out. She's open to new ideas, and not necessarily afraid to go after what she wants.
It's inspiring, and also a positive reminder that there's always new avenues in life, and happiness will always be there for you, if you should seek it.
It's always a challenge when you write a book that incorporates two similar, but still ultimately different worlds, but Reid does it brilliantly.
Reid picks an excellent pivot point - a simple request to leave or stay - and shows how that request can result in the concentric circles that guide people onto different paths in life, and into dfiferent realities. However she's also careful to show how some things do cross over in both realities, but it's free will that allows us to determine what we do with those inevitabilities.
The relationship aspect
Maybe in Another Life is predicated on relationships, ranging from family relationships, friendships to romantic relationships, and how they all impact our various path is in life.
While Reid does a lovely job of showing the ups and downs of romantic relationships, including how people can be tempted to do seriously questionable things that damage a relationship, it's Reid's exploration of friendships and family that truly stand out.
Hannah's friendships are earnest and real, and really reinforce the Chinese addage that when you leave home, you need to depend on your friends. However, we also see that this is a girl who has spent years feeling lost because her family hasn't been around, and it's both cathartic and inspiring, as we see her work through this fact.
Reid's ending is thoughtful, smart and reflective. It's not a perfect ending - everyone has had to go through some trials and tribulations to achieve that ending - but it's pretty darned close.
Without giving spoilers away, the ending really reinforces the idea that life isn't a perfect thing where if you pick the right path, you'll fall into complete happiness and perfect. It's a trial and error process,
Things that didn't work/ Things to consider:
I also think it's worth pointing out that often times, books with alternate/rotating realities can devolve into black-and-white territory, with one reality being obviously more perfect than the other. Reid doesn't fall into this trap; she makes sure that
Not only does Taylor Jenkins Reid explore the what-ifs of life: the path not taken; the people not chosen; she also gently explores the idea of whether there is a correct answer or concrete path for fate. Sometimes, we very likely need to go through multiple paths to stumble upon what eventually works for us.
I highly recommend this book as a summer read, but I also recommend this book as an explorative, introspective look for anyone who may feel like they haven't made the right choices in life, and are wondering about the next step. Reid and Hannah fully, absolutely get it.
We're also giving away a LACMA print of the lights - it has special meaning to the book.
* No one-word answers.