Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Book Review: Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

The moment a new novel releases from Joshilyn Jackson, you should be all over it. Many, many people have come to realize this, several books into Jackson's career. For one thing, Jackson's latest effort, Someone Else's Love Story, was named one of Amazon's Best Books of the Month for November 2013. Among other honors, the book has also been named an early #1 Pick for Indiebound's Next List in December 2013.

I mentioned Jackson and her newest heroine Shandi, mother to three-year-old Natty, in my last post about Jackson's novella My Own Miraculous. (I also mentioned Jackson's previous novels and linked to my reviews of them, so click on over in a bit after you've read all about SELS.)  Someone Else's Love Story  falls directly into chronological order behind My Own Miraculous.

Once Shandi accepts that Natty is more than a tad bit special, her father and stepmother decide he should be in a fancy preschool that matches his high abilities. They offer use of a townhouse in Atlanta, closer to both Shandi's college classes and more education options for Natty.

On the way to Atlanta with best pal Walcott, Shandi is jolted out of her moving fog and lands directly in the pathway of a cupid's arrow:

I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K.
It was on a Friday afternoon at the tail end of a Georgia summer so ungodly hot the air felt like it had all been boiled red. We were both staring down the barrel of an ancient, creaky .32 that could kill us just as dead as a really nice gun could.
I thought then that I had landed in my own worst dream, not a love story… And yet, seventeen seconds later, before I so much as knew his name, I’d fallen dizzy-down in love with him.
I’ve never had an angel on my right shoulder; I was born with a pointy-tailed devil who crept back and forth across my neck to get his whispers into both my ears. I didn’t get a fairy godmother or even a discount talking cricket-bug to be my conscience. But someone should have told me. That afternoon in the Circle K, I deserved to know, right off, that I had landed bang in the middle of a love story. Especially since it wasn’t— it isn’t— it could never be, my own.

The story that follows is Jackson's best work to date. That's saying something given that Backseat Saints and A Grownup Kind of Pretty are among my favorite novels of all time. We follow Shandi and William through a tale both current and steeped in personal histories, his and hers. Jackson writes of their separate heartaches with aplomb and grace. Each character in the novel, as always, is wonderfully flawed yet immeasurably sympathetic. You will be rooting for Shandi, Walcott, and William -- and perhaps even an antagonist or two like William's long-time female friend who despises Shandi from the get-go.

Joshilyn Jackson is at her finest in Someone Else's Love Story. It's a definite addition to your Christmas list for some lucky recipient.

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