Sunday, August 16, 2015

Review: Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Title: Maybe in Another Life

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: 7 July 2015 by Atria Books - Washington Square Press
Pages: 352 pages
How I Read It: ARC ebook
Genre: women's fiction, chick lit, contemporary, romance
My Rating: 3 cups

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.
My Thoughts
"I'm just going to do my best and live under the assumption that if there are things in this life that we are supposed to do, if there are people in this world we are supposed to love, we'll find them. In time".
Can a decision change your life? Fascinating concept to consider, how even the smallest decision could have an impact on the way a life unfolds.  This story does just that - it details the ramifications of one small decision and shows what would have happened in a dual time scenario, the events that unfold from that initial selection. 
I love the idea that 'out there' may be numerous universes with another 'me', living out an alternate reality based upon decisions made differently. I have to admit to being partial to the concept that things have a funny way of working out, even if you are perplexed by them at the time. As the author states herself, she wished to raise questions like, "is anything meant to be? How much in our life is predetermined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: "Is there such a thing as a soul mate?"
"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."
Now don't run away frightened, this is not a deep philosophical book. It does, however, present to the reader an interesting take on how a seemingly inconsequential decision could ultimately effect your long term situation. 
"Nine billion choices I've made over the course of my life could have changed where I am right now and where I'm headed. There's no sense focusing on just one. Unless you want to punish yourself."
The book is written in alternating chapters with each chapter telling one version of the story from the initial decision. So basically it's almost like two books in one. I liked that there were similar things that happened in each universe, regardless.  I found that to be rather clever writing. I also really liked the strong friendship between Hannah and Gabby in both timelines. The strong thread to hold it all together no matter what the situation. I like that this isn't your typical romance novel for obvious reasons - there are two male leads. So it begs the question, what would have been the 'right' decision? Hard to know. Finally, I like that the author makes the characters quite relatable with traits that one can identify with. In many ways they appear just your everyday person: living, making decisions (both good and bad) and where life is never simple. 
"I have to think that there is a method to all of this madness ..... that there is a larger plan out there. Everything happens for a reason."
So all up this is a well-written, thought-provoking tale about the consequences of our actions, fate and destiny.
"Well, I'm sure I'll be seeing you ..... some way or another". "Yeah," he says, "Or maybe in another life."

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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