Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Southern Fiction
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 5th 2014 by William Morrow Paperbacks, an imprint of HarperCollins (first published November 19th 2013)
Note: As a tour host selected by TLC virtual book tours, I received a complimentary copy from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are completely honest and completely my own.
I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K…
I’ve never had an angel on my right shoulder; I was born with a pointy-tailed devil who crept back and forth across my neck to get his whispers into both my ears. I didn’t get a fairy godmother or even a discount talking cricket-bug to be my conscience. But someone should have told me. That afternoon in the Circle K, I deserved to know, right off, that I had landed bang in the middle of a love story. Especially since it wasn’t— it isn’t— it could never be, my own.
Shandi Pierce is a 21 year old single mother to exceptional 3 year old Natty. She has long been in the middle of a war between her Catholic mother and her Jewish father, each longing to pass their traditions down to her. On her way to Atlanta, Shandi and Natty end up in the middle of a hold up in a gas station. There she meets William Ashe, an intriguing man, bearing a striking resemblance to the muscular Norse god Thor. From there, their lives intertwine, each trying to come to terms with their past.
As soon as I opened this book, I knew I was going to like it—it begins with an Emily Dickinson quotation from “Hope Is The Thing With Feathers.” I love that poem. The intriguing opening to the book didn’t hurt either. Right from the get go you know that it’s about someone else’s love story, but you still hope that somehow it will turn out to be Shandi’s.
Someone Else’s Love Story is peopled with curious and complex characters, each with their own baggage. The characters are well drawn, fully fleshed out, and three dimensional. I love how both Shandi’s and William’s complicated family life adds to their character and personal experience—it makes them more real and relatable. Their bests friends Paula and Walcott also add an interesting dimension to the story, taking part in both Shandi’s and William’s past and present.
Through Shandi and William, Jackson explores the major themes family, faith, goodness, and forgiveness. For the most part, she does a really good job of this. She manages to avoid many clichés and brings something new to the table. She also touches on many other themes throughout the story—miracles and reason, destiny and choice, science and faith. However, although this book was really good right up until the end, Jackson undermines herself by, in my opinion, taking the easy way out with the ending. I don’t think it did Shandi’s story justice.
Up until the last 20 pages or so, this book was aiming for a A rating. However, the plot lines that brimmed with so much potential did not all end in a way that met my expectations.
That being said, I think this book would be a great choice for book clubs because it has the ability to create a lot of discussion. It hits on a lot of hot button issues, and this edition has the added bonus of some discussion questions already in the back.
I must say that although I was ultimately disappointed by this book, I loved Jackson’s style and characters. I will definitely be picking up more of her work!
About The Author
New York Times Bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson lives in Decatur, Georgia with her husband, Scott, their two children, Sam and Maisy Jane, and two feckless, dog-shaped wastrels who answer to Bagel and Ansley, especially if you are holding bacon. They all serve an orange tom named Mango in various capacities.
She is the author of five novels: gods in Alabama, Between, Georgia, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, Backseat Saints, and A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages, won SIBA’s novel of the year, twice been a #1 Book Sense Pick, twice won Georgia Author of the Year, and twice been shortlisted for the Townsend prize.
Connect with her through her website, Facebook, or Twitter.
Joshilyn’s Other Tour Stops
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Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.