Published by Atria on 08/09/16
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.
Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.
That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.
The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?
“I hope it’s everything you want it to be.”
“The rest of your life.”
Whenever I read anything written by Renée Carlino, I get what I like to call “The Downhome Feel”. Okay, I just made that up but that’s what stories as good as hers are supposed to do – bring about thoughtful inspiration and teach you things about yourself. I love that about her books and I hope they all continue to do this to me. So, anyway, The Downhome Feel. It’s like that feeling you get when you come home from a long vacation or when you visit your childhood home after a long absence. Everything feels familiar and warm and intrinsically right. I’ve gotten TDF with every book I’ve ever read by Renée. The writing flows with ease, the characters feel like my lifelong friends and the love stories are emotionally full and meaningful. Swear on This Life is no exception and meets all those marks and is full of reasons why I love to read romance.
Swear on This Life is conceptually different for Renée and I loved the risk she took in her delivery. I thought the execution was outstanding and it brought an emotional depth to the story. As Emiline reads J. Colby’s book she is forced to examine herself and face the tragedies of her past, however reluctantly. The struggle she has in the examination is depicted wonderfully and I was tense with curiosity and empathy as she made her way through each chapter of her past as it unfolded parallel to the present rediscovery of the author and their connection. Cristal mentioned to me that Swear would make an excellent movie and I absolutely had those same thoughts. Renée’s writing has a graceful and cinematic feel that did not go unnoticed making Swear on This Life unforgettable and distinct.
This love story is so simplistic in thought yet complicated by circumstance. It is written with such a quite introspection and sensitivity that makes it one that will resonate with all readers. Because these characters are so rich in their depictions it was easy to make connections to them, to care for them, and to rally for their happily ever after. I found Emiline to be strong willed, spirited and brave and Jase to be thoughtful and courageous with selfless foresight. I found myself easily lost in their world and I was happy to witness their relationship in both past and present times as it advanced from a simple friendship to a sweet first-love that turns complex and passionate. I loved their friends-to-lovers story and I hope that Renée has more planned for them.
If you read anything I recommend this year, please let it be Swear on This Life. I promise that if you are an emotionally responsive reader like me, it will put you through the wringer and give you your own Downhome Feels. This is a story I won’t forget and one I feel myself revisiting often. Like, maybe right now.
Yes, Melissa, I wholeheartedly agree.
Swear on This Life is a sweetly emotional journey, one where I was unsure if my heart would stay intact in the end. This love story is about fate, second chances, and being brave enough to trust in what you feel is right, even if it is terrifying and almost guarantees that you’ll get hurt. Carlino made me feel hope and belief in the kind of big love that can survive the world around it — the kind of love in movies, and well… books. I most definitely recommend.
I was so afraid to read this book. It’s disgusting how long it took me to get up the courage to read it. It was both my most anticipated read and my most dreaded. I had every right to be afraid that she would make me cry (because she always does), but I had no right to doubt her. Swear on this Life is my favorite book of hers to date, and I’ve loved all of them wholeheartedly.
Swear is a truly beautiful and breathtaking utter work of art. Renée Carlino is a master wordsmith and storyteller. I hope she continues to scare me and delight me with her books for the rest of my life.