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.
An original account of the coming-of-age tale, and a thoughtful read on what it’s like to look at life from all angles, to see what happens in world of ‘what if.’
My feelings toward this book are so convoluted I’m unsure if this review will be helpful to anyone. I’ll try to be as clear as possible when I’m expressing myself, but I apologize in advance if I’m confusing as hell. I confused myself just thinking about it.
Maybe in Another Life had the kind of synopsis that made me add it to my TBR shelf only milliseconds after reading the last word. I mean, read it. Intriguing, right?
In this fiction, Hannah Martin recently returned to Los Angeles after years of bouncing from city to city without settling on a forever home. I identified with Hannah immediately because I felt her vulnerabilities and I felt like we had a lot in common. I too am a 29-year-old wanderer and sometimes I wonder if I’m on the right path. Actually, I wonder this all the time. Hannah let’s the reader in quickly, revealing her mistakes and regrets, plus her hope at starting over. I have to be honest and say that I judged Hannah pretty harshly after she revealed her past, and I was worried that I wouldn’t sympathize with her. Yes, I identified with her but wasn’t too sure I liked her. This was a pretty consistent theme as I read the book.
Where was I? Oh, yeah…the first few chapters open with Hannah’s first day back and her reunion with her best friend, who I ADORED (I loved her so much there were sometimes I wished the book was about Gabby instead)! In some ways their relationship was the true love story and I melted because of how much they supported each other and loved each other even knowing each other’s dirt. Moving on…Gabby takes Hannah out on her first night with the motive to get her to meet up with her old flame. After a night of reconnecting with friends, Hannah walks out of the club, only to have Ethan – her old boyfriend – stop her from leaving and ask her if she’ll stay and hang out with him. In the chapters after his request, I saw what Hannah’s life was like after she said yes and stayed and what it was like after she told him no.
This is where my feelings toward the story fluctuate. I liked the originality of the story line. I liked Hannah and the other characters; I thought they all had depth. But, I didn’t love the chapter layout. I thought that I’d have fun with it, but I don’t think my personality was made for it. It took me a while to read because I pretty much had to pause after each chapter. It felt like I was reading two different books and there was a cliffy every few chapters. It was sometimes hard for me to stay focused on a storyline because my brain kept traveling down the path of the other storyline, and I’d wonder about what would happen next there, instead of giving the present one my full attention. I’d eventually get deeply into it, but then that chapter would end and all over again… you know.
Hannah’s two futures were pretty different in some ways, but also similar in others. Certain things happened in one storyline and I loved the uncertainty of not knowing whether that would be revealed in the other story, or if that would be completely different. Sometimes the book felt like a mystery as I held my breath and waited to find out Hanna’s true path.
I believe that this book crosses genres. It’s listed as women’s fiction, but I read it for the romance hinted at in the blurb. There is romance and in its own way there’s that familiar trope View Spoiler » the love triangle « Hide Spoiler, but I don’t believe that’s the major plot line. This book is a philosophical one, and with a story about love and relationships it explores some heady philosophical questions: Is there such a thing as fate? Are we responsible for our choices? Do the small decisions matter as much as the big ones? Are we meant for only one person? And on and on…
Taylor Jenkins Reid’s unique story took me on a pretty incredible journey but I didn’t like the destination. I’m not even sure I enjoyed the ride. I liked this book, but I don’t think I liked it. I appreciated that it made me think but don’t like how it made me feel. It’s the weirdest feeling. This book made me hope, but mostly I felt incredibly sad. I started wondering what was wrong with me after I finished reading it, because when I look at it straight on, I think I’m supposed to feel optimistic about it all, but from my perspective, I feel kind of depressed.
Spoilerish: This book did end with a HEA, but it left me feeling sad. The message was one of faith and possibility, but I’m not sure I really believe it. I’m a romantic, and although I felt hopeful in the knowledge that anything is possible, I also felt untethered. View Spoiler » Hannah lived two lives and since they were both equally true, in a sense that also meant that none of them were true, and that makes me felt blue… « Hide Spoiler
The book asks the question of whether there’s such a thing as a soul mate and I think that the story gives the answer (at least based on my definition of soul mates). I didn’t like the answer I was given. Maybe In Another Life left an impression on me, and I appreciate books that leave their mark, but I can’t say that I love looking at it.
I recommend this book to you if you enjoy nontraditional women’s fiction. This book is smart and it’s clear that Reid is talented, so I will recommend it to many of my friends, especially if I’m curious about how they’ll interpret it. Go read it and tell me what you think.