Length: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow
From the publisher:
At twenty-one Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Nathan, aka Natty Bumppo, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced Christian mother and Jewish father. She’s got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up in a gas station mini-mart and falling in love with a great wall of a man named William Ashe, who willingly steps between the armed robber and her son.
Shandi doesn’t know that her blond god Thor has his own complications. When he looked down the barrel of that gun he believed it was destiny: It’s been one year to the day since a tragic act of physics shattered his world. But William doesn’t define destiny the way other people do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in science and numbers, destiny to him is about choice.
Now, he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head on, making choices that will reveal unexpected truths about love, life, and the world they think they know.
Here’s what I thought:
I love Joshilyn Jackson. She is one of my very favorite authors and I’ve read everything she has written, yet this is the first one of her books that I’ve actually read rather than listened to on audio. It was interesting because I found that it wasn’t that different an experience from “reading” her other books. She has such a strong, unique voice that it comes through clearly in her writing–even without hearing her actual voice in my ears, I could still hear her voice in my head. (This doesn’t make me as crazy; she narrates most of her own books so I do know exactly what she sounds like. And it’s only while reading that I hear voices in my head, not all the time. No worries!)
Someone Else’s Love Story is typical of most of Jackson’s books in that it takes place in the South, this time in the Atlanta metro area, which is well-known to me because it’s where I grew up and where my family still lives. I enjoy reading books set in places that are familiar as it helps me connect to the story in a very immediate way. It’s also typical Jackson fare in that there is a female main character, but what made the book a bit different was that the story is actually told from two points of view–that of Shandi, the young mother, and William, a thirty-something autistic geneticist.
Shandi and William meet under dramatic circumstances when they are both caught in the middle of the armed robbery of a convenience store. Following this meeting, their paths continue to cross as they find that they both need something from the other. As Shandi helps William to heal from physical and emotional wounds, William helps her to resolve lingering questions about her past and the conception of her son, Natty.
My favorite character in the book by far was William, and I loved how Jackson portrays this unique and complex man. His back story is revealed in fragments throughout the novel, filtered through his own thoughts, so the full picture is not clear until the very end. Although I’m not an expert, it felt like a very believable depiction of someone with autism, and he has such a goodness and a vulnerability about him (even as he’s really big and strong) that I fell a little bit in love with him (Shandi, I totally get it).
I didn’t enjoy the character of Shandi as much. It might be because of her youth, but she felt very much like a work in progress, with no real definition to her. I never got a handle on who she was and what she wanted, and I’m not sure those things were clear to her, either. The plot device for her move to Atlanta felt flimsy, too, as she supposedly goes to be closer to school but never actually goes to school once there, as it’s summertime and classes haven’t started yet. It just seems like an excuse to move her in proximity to William.
The writing is classic Jackson, full of spunk and wit and creativity, and I loved every minute of it. The secondary characters are interesting and original. The resolution of the novel brings together the themes of the book in a very nice way, and it’s satisfying. If I had one complaint it would be with the way that Shandi and Walcott’s story is wrapped up, because it just feels too sudden and convenient.
All in all, I really enjoyed this latest book by Joshilyn Jackson. The only bad part about reading it early is that I have to wait that much longer for her next one. (Updated to say: Jackson has just released a prequel short story to Someone Else’s Love Story entitled My Own Miraculous. I bought it and will be reading it after the fact, obviously, but you could always read it first. And yay for more J. J.!)
Thanks so much to Edelweiss and William Morrow for providing me with a copy of this book.
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