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Saturday, April 25, 2020

Review: MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Title: Maybe in Another Life
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication Date: July 7, 2015
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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 he 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, more compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she's found him.

"Life is long and full of an infinite number of decisions."

This is the second novel by author Taylor Jenkins Reid that I have read and enjoyed! If it wasn't official before, I am big, BIG fan of her writing style and narrative. Maybe in Another Life was very thought-provoking. I was unsure how I would feel about concurrent storylines but it played out wonderfully. You don't stay in one parallel universe for too long that you begin to forget the details of the other. The novel is not divided into "chapters", and it does not specify which universe you're in. Personally, I felt that this little formatting element added to my reading experience. The story played out like a continuous flow of scenes. I had to read more to figure out more. I had to pay attention to details. I found myself immersed in Hannah's story—both of them.

Hannah is constantly on the move, never settling in one place for too long. There's no place she calls "home" and she's lost on where to go or who she is. I found Hannah easy to relate to. There's a hesitancy to go back to your hometown without some sort of good news to people you've grown up around. It's a weird feeling seeing former classmates (that you're not regularly in contact with) having stable careers, married or starting a family. Yes, I'm happy for them. I'm successful in my own way, but sometimes it's hard not to compare yourself to others. Am I behind? Should I be more settled at 28/29? Maybe in Another Life had me wondering about my own decisions while I read on about Hannah's. I enjoyed her character growth. She eventually found something that interested her and pursued it despite the hardships along that path.

A secondary character I have to mention is Gabby, Hannah's best friend. Honestly, I think she was my favorite character. If she had her own book, I would read it in a heart beat! Her story that plays out in this book ends happily at least. I was thankful for that. Gabby was supportive and caring. Since Hannah's own family was distant, it really emphasized how much trust and honesty there is in her relationship with Gabby. Their friendship was heartwarming (to the max).  Ethan on the other hand... there are moments where I liked him and moments I did not. But being the hopeless romantic that I am, of course there were scenes between Hannah and Ethan that made me I swoon.

Onwards to my thoughts on the parallel universe plot and flow! I liked it~ Many of the parts end in what I felt were cliff hanger statements before jumping to the other universe. [Well played, Ms. Reid. Well played]. It hooks you in, and you keep reading to find out more. I found myself comparing the parallel universes throughout my reading experience. When something happened in one, I would wonder if it would happen in the other universe. I was picking up on every detail and doing my best to pay attention. There is a character that is introduced kind of early into one universe that I was honestly rooting for despite an internal alarm going off. There were some similarities in the parallel universes which made me question fate. As if no matter what decision you choose, there are some things in life that are destined and your own choices will reroute, trying to get you back in a certain direction. I look forward to my next Taylor Jenkins Reid read! 

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