Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Review: Someone Else's Love Story

Summary: I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K

For single mom Shandi Pierce, life is a juggling act. She's 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 to deal with before she gets caught in the middle of a stickup in a gas station mini-mart and falls in love with a great wall of a man named William Ashe, who steps between the armed robber and her son to shield the child from danger.

Shandi doesn't know that her blond god has his own baggage. When he looked down the barrel of the gun in the gas station he believed it was destiny: it's been exactly one year since a tragic act of physics shattered his universe. 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, William 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.

Someone Else's Love Story is Joshilyn Jackson's funny, charming, and poignant novel about science and miracles, secrets and truths, faith and forgiveness; about falling in love and learning that things aren't always what they seem—or what we hope they will be. It's a story about discovering what we want and ultimately finding what we need. -- William Morrow

I've always loved Joshilyn Jackson's books; and after meeting her at last year's BEA, I couldn't wait to read her new one SOMEONE ELSE'S LOVE STORY. I knew this novel was a little different from her previous books, but I was still looking forward to Ms. Jackson's unique ability to write terrific southern fiction with interesting characters.

SOMEONE ELSE'S LOVE STORY tells the story of Shandi Pierce, a single mom who is raising her three year old son Natty. (I was introduced to these characters a few months ago when I listened to the short story MY OWN MIRACULOUS -- my review.) Like single moms everywhere, Shandi has a full plate -- going to college, raising her son, and keeping the peace with her divorced parents. 

One day, Shandi finds herself smack dab in the middle of a hold-up at a gas station; and she immediately falls in love with William, the man who saves her life.  William is just plain hot and it's no wonder Shandi is attracted to him; however, William is still reeling from a tragic event that occurred exactly one year prior to the hold-up.  As a thank-you (and a way to get closer to William), she decides to take care of him; and at the same time, he helps her discover a secret from her past.

I enjoyed SOMEONE ELSE'S LOVE STORY, but I'm not sure it lived up to my expectations. (Having said that, they were pretty high!) I read this book some time ago, and as I look back, there were many positive things about it. I especially loved how many "big" issues Ms. Jackson was able to  cover in this story as well as the book's ending. My only issue was that I found the pace of the first half of the novel to be kind of slow. The second half of the book was terrific -- I just think it took a long time to set up the story.

It's funny to say this about a book, but I think I enjoyed what this book accomplished more than the actual story. I loved how Ms. Jackson delved into the subjects of science and miracles, and I thought William's character was an excellent way to demonstrate how science works in our society. I appreciated how she showcased the usefulness of facts and choices while balancing that with the benefit of intuition and feelings. 

In addition, I liked how Shandi discovered things not only about herself but also about her family and friends. Shandi might be an adult, but in many ways, this novel was a coming-of-age story for her. She learned that what she thinks she wants isn't always what she really wants, and that sometimes what we need to most is right in front of us. I loved how much Shandi grew as a character throughout this novel and how she eventually realized what she needs for happiness and contentment.

Finally, I loved how the theme of surprises, both good and bad, were woven into the story. The story itself has its share of twist and turns -- as does life; and Shandi had to learn to deal with these changes. I especially appreciated how this novel was full of surprises and never predictable!

Because there are so many pertinent themes to life, I think SOMEONE ELSE'S LOVE STORY would make a great book club pick. There are thirteen discussion questions which will help facilitate conversation. I've mentioned a few of the themes but you also might want to discuss family, parenting, forgiveness, acceptance, faith, choices, secrets, goodness, regret, and fate.

I recommend SOMEONE ELSE'S LOVE STORY to fans of Ms. Jackson's as well as readers who enjoy southern fiction and heart-warming stories.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher at last year's BEA.

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

I liked this more than you did. I felt like Shandi and William were old friends. I can see why you thought the first half of the book was slower but that didn't bother me.