Thursday, September 04, 2014

Bookish Thoughts: Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K. ~ Opening from Someone Else's Love Story



Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
William Morrow, 2013
Fiction; 320 pgs

Someone Else's Love Story is my first experience with Joshilyn Jackson.  She writes beautifully and drew me right into the story.  Told from different perspectives, the novel focuses on the lives of two characters: Shandi, the 21 year old mother of a genius 3 year old, who is only just beginning to go after what she wants; and William Ashe, a geneticist, who believes he has nothing to live for. Their lives intersect one afternoon when Shandi, her son, and William are in the same mini-mart when an armed man walks in.  For Shandi, it is love at first sight as the man she finds attractive becomes a hero--her and her son's hero.  For William, it is a chance to face destiny head on.  Their story doesn't end or begin there.  Not really.  William and Shandi form an unlikely alliance in search of a truth Shandi both wants to know and doesn't. Along the way, William comes to terms with his own past and his feelings surrounding it.

It was easy to see what Shandi saw in William, why she becomes so smitten with him.  He is a rock, solid and sturdy.  He represents stability and strength, two things Shandi needs in her life.  Inside, however, William is in pain.  A fatal accident tore apart his family a year before and he is only barely surviving.  He goes through the motions of life, but that is about all.  In some ways, this appeals to Shandi too.  Can she bring him back to life through love?

Shandi is struggling with her own issues.  The daughter of a Jewish father and Catholic mother, Shandi has long had to straddle the fence of what she believes, trying to keep the peace.  She's still discovering who she is, trying to find her own inner strength and path.  She does not always think things through and sometimes sees only what she wanted to see.  I suppose we are all like that on occasion, although I mostly chocked it up to her age--she is quite young and seemed immature at times. Shandi was a teenager when she got pregnant with her son, Natty.  He is Shandi's world. She would do anything to protect him, including keeping secret the truth about his father--from him and herself.  William is drawn to Natty, the child reminding him of what he has lost, but also a reminder of what life is about.

One aspect I found especially interesting was Jackson's decision to put William's character on the Autism Spectrum.  To the author's credit, it was very respectfully done.  It was just an added nuance to William that made his character richer and the story more interesting I thought.

Both William and Shandi come with best friends, and those characters play significant roles in the their lives as well as over the course of the novel.  There is William's best friend, Paula, who is fiercely protective and loyal.  I wasn't too sure about her at first, but by the end of the novel, I thought quite highly of her.  Shandi's best friend is Walcott, a boy who she has known all her life. He has a love for verse and poetry and would do anything for his friend. I confess to not being Walcott's biggest fan. His character annoyed me to some extent.

There were a few other characters that stand out--particularly that nasty stepmother of Shandi's.  But I really have to wonder about Shandi's father who let his wife treat her daughter as he did.  I think it's explained somewhat later in the book through his own actions (not so much in words).  Still, I was disappointed in him in more ways than one.

Someone Else's Love Story is very much about the characters and their personal journeys.  They both have been through very difficult trials in their lives and are just beginning to come to terms with them. At times it felt like everything was too well balanced and perfectly placed throughout the book, but overall I enjoyed the book and the author's writing. I have mixed feelings about the ending.  Some aspects of the ending I was quite taken with, the kind that warms the heart, but a couple of threads left me scratching my head, unsure I was reading correctly.  They just didn't sit right with me.  And still don't, days after finishing the book.  It is hard to discuss without going into spoilers, but from talking with a friend, I know I am not alone.

I liked that the author has created a story that is not so straight forward.  This isn't just a love story; although it is, in a way, that.  It is also a story about destiny, about sacrifice and about second chances.  It is about grief and truth and forgiveness. The book is multi-layered, dark and comic, taking on some pretty heavy themes, and I loved that about it.  It is what will make me pick up another Joshilyn Jackson book.  I already have two in my TBR collection calling my name.


Rating: * (Good +)

To learn more about Joshilyn Jackson and her books, please visit the author's website

I hope you will check out what others had to say about Someone Else's Love Story on the TLC Book Tours route!


Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. The publisher provided a copy of the book for review, but I was impatient and bought and read an e-copy.


© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

20 comments:

  1. I loved this book but read the prequel first so I was already invested in the characters.

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    1. Kathy - I really liked William and Paula. I know a lot of people loved this one--and several didn't. I am glad I finally got a chance to read something the author wrote and look forward to reading more by her.

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  2. I'm always interested in characters on the autistic spectrum in literature so this one appeals to me.

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    1. Tracy - It is! It seems like it's becoming more common to do so too. It's good to see.

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  3. I enjoyed reading your thoughts about this book. I loved the story, but was conflicted with parts of it.

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    1. Pat - There was so much I did like about this book. I definitely want to read more by the author.

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  4. Joshilyn Jackson has been on my radar for awhile so I was excited to see the review here. I'll definitely have to look for this one but I'll be prepared to tune Walcott out! As for the stepmother thing being one myself I'm always a little sensitive to how they're portrayed but I've also been appalled by how some women can treat children. I knew a woman who seemed proud by how she ignored her stepson and favored her own children and her husband seemed completely tuned out to it all.

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    1. Katherine - I haven't heard anyone else say they weren't too fond of Walcott, so you may end up loving him. :-) I can't really put my finger on why I didn't care for him . . .

      To be fair, Shandi wasn't exactly nice to her stepmother either, but it did seem that the stepmother in the book was especially hard on her. I felt the stepmother did treat Shandi differently than she did her own children, and the father definitely turned the other way more often than not. Late in the book, something happens that adds a new perspective to the stepmother's behavior, but I'm not sure it improved my opinion of her other than to make me feel a little sorry for her. I'm sure you are nothing like her, regardless. :-)

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  5. Someone Else's Love Story sounds good. It sounds like she writes an interesting mix of characters here, especially with William. I'm curious about the ending now.

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    1. Naida - I enjoyed it and thought the characters were well developed and interesting.

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  6. I almost requested this book for review but changed my mind. Now I'm curious and definitely intrigued.

    I'm glad you enjoyed it, Wendy.

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  7. Thanks for being a part of the tour! I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

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  8. I loved this novel so hard until the VERY end, which I felt really unsettled by. There were some things that seemed like they were just deciding were okay after all - oh, he wasn't really a bad guy, so it wasn't that bad a deal. I had a hard time with that. But Joshilyn Jackson is a great author - I will definitely read her again.

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    1. Elizabeth - I had mixed feelings about that part of the ending too. There was so much I liked about the book too though. I want to read more by the author as well. :-)

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  9. I'm on this book tour as well. I have a lot of the same thoughts as you! Loved that the plot was at times unconventional and that it felt mostly character driven. Check out my review tomorrow: www.fuelledbyfiction.com

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    1. Beth - Yes! Definitely character driven. From your review (thanks for the link!), I see we are on the same page with this book. :-) If not for the ending, I probably would have rated it higher too.

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  10. Shandi drove me crazy at times too and I just chalked it up to youth~ I didn't love this as much as some people but I did love the way she handled William boing on the autism spectrum. For obvious reasons this is something I enjoy when reading.

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    1. Stacy - Yes, Jackson did a great job with William's character, I thought. I really liked Jackson's writing style and the story overall.

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