Maybe in Another Life Review

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Review: Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My Thoughts

Touching, thoughtful, unpredictable, witty and entirely captivating.
Jenkins Reid twists the notion of fate in a way
that is intriguing, hopeful and uplifting.

5stars

Synopsis

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 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.

My Review

“Life is long and full of an infinite number of decisions. I have to think that the small ones don’t matter, that I’ll end up where I need to end up no matter what I do. My fate will find me.”

From the very first time I read the synopsis, this book drew me in. I love thinking about the concept of fate and parallel lives, of how the smallest decision can significantly impact the course of our existence. However, this type of concept coming alive in the written word sounded complex and I wasn’t sure how it would be done… but jumping in, almost immediately, I knew it was done well and in a way that made the book impossible to put down. Taylor Jenkins Reid explores the idea of destiny, soulmates and so much more in this thoughtful and moving narrative. As the synopsis states:

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?

We meet twenty-nine-year-old Hannah Martin, who seems lost in her own life. She’s moved around often and made many mistakes along the way, her latest, perhaps her worst. She decides to leave New York City to go back home to Los Angeles after a failed relationship with a man who wasn’t who she thought he’d be. And even though she’s going back to the place she grew up, to be with her closest friend in the world, Gabby, she doesn’t feel settled.

“Sometimes I worry I’ll never find a place to call home.”

To celebrate her return to L.A., Gabby takes Hannah out, and she sees her old boyfriend, Ethan. He’s her high-school crush, the one she thought would be her forever, but when he left to college, the relationship fizzled and forever turned into heartbreak. Seeing Ethan again, however, dredges up all those buried feelings, sparking to life the flame that perhaps never did extinguish.

“He still, all these years later, shines brighter to me than other people. Even after I got over him, I was never able to extinguish the fire completely, as if it’s a pilot light that will remain small and controlled but very much alive.”

Ethan makes it clear that he’s ready to pick back up where they left off, and at the end of the night, she has a choice to make: she can stay with Ethan just a little longer, or hop a ride back with Gabby and her husband, Mark. A small choice… seemingly meaningless… would change everything.

The book unwinds in two very different, parallel paths. We see how her decision to go, and how her decision to stay, affects Hannah and those around her. The lives we experience are vastly different, especially as we see Hannah endure crushing heartache, loss and hopelessness. Hannah knows that after everything she’s gone through, she needs to change. She needs to get her life back on track. That means making smarter decisions especially as her life takes some rather unexpected turns.

You’ll have to read the book to see what happens in each of her lives, but I loved how despite everything she goes through, she fights back with courage and determination. Most of all, I LOVE LOVE LOVE, that Taylor Jenkins Reid makes it seem that no matter our decisions, no matter the journey that life takes us on, we can find hope and happiness in every life.

This is a wonderful book. Fresh, imaginative, thoughtful, uplifting and enjoyable, and certainly one of my favorites this year.

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