Thursday, August 1, 2013

Someone Else's Love Story: A Novel by Joshilyn Jackson

Life can change in an instant.  One minute, you are going into Circle K for a Dr. Pepper, and the next minute, you are face to face with a disordered, frenetic gunman.  In Joshilyn Jackson’s new novel, Someone Else’s Love Story, the reader is thrust into what is most likely Shandi Pierce’s worst day.

Not that Shandi hasn’t had some rough days before this one.  She is finishing college and raising her three-year old son, Natty.  Natty is a handful, with his astounding intelligence and verbal ability.  Shandi also has to maneuver between her estranged parents.  Though long divorced, there is still not peace in the family.  Shandi’s dad is married to Bethany, a screeching, unkind woman who treats Shandi like an unwanted visitor.  Shandi’s mother is the perfect specimen of womankind, nearly the epitome of a 50s housewife—only she works at a candy store.  And there is the small matter that her father is Jewish, while her mother is Christian. 
During the holdup, Shandi’s only hope is the man who she spotted seemingly over interested in the laundry detergent.  She figures him for a newly divorced man, trying to determine which soap would get his clothes the cleanest.  She has no idea that this man, who she nicknames Thor, would be the biggest defense she has against a man with a gun.
Thor, whose real name is William Ashe, may look like a linebacker, but he is really a scientist.  He maps genomes and loves science.  He doesn’t look at the world like everyone else does.  When the robbery starts to go south, his whisper of the word “destiny” has Shandi wondering how much more there is to William, and if he might be the one to be her fate.
Someone Else’s Love Story is not a typical love story.  It is a novel about friendship, loss, love, and forgiveness.  Each character has relationships with people that are complicated and deep.  Especially touching are the best friends that Shandi and William have.  Shandi has never known a time without her best friend, Walcott, and he helped her deal with the mysterious birth of her son.  William, for his part, shares a tight bond with the outspoken Paula, a divorce attorney.  I loved them both.  Jackson creates characters that feel real and true.  There were no people in this novel that I did not love or want to know.  I even wanted to know the robber better!
The themes in this novel are touching and heartfelt.  Love is messy and complicated.  Sometimes, you have to start over.  Sometimes, you have to let go.  And sometimes, beautiful things come in ways that we do not expect.
The ending was terrific, with a twist that will take your breath away.  Someone Else’s Love Story is a beautiful, smart, and engaging novel that makes Joshilyn Jackson a new favorite author.  Highly recommended.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

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