Book Talk: Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Book Talk: Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins ReidMaybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Washington Square Press on July 2015
Genres: Adult Contemporary
Also by this author: After I Do, One True Loves
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
Amazon
Goodreads

 

 Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought!

 

 

A1

In alternating chapters we see two different versions of twenty nine year old Hannah’s life play out — all hinged on what she does next when she encounters an old flame upon moving back to her home of LA after moving from city to city and feeling lost about her life path.

a2*is awake in the middle of the night upon finishing (much like after reading her book After I Do) because this book was every existential crisis I’ve ever had pretty much rolled into one book haha* (I mean that in a good way…super thought provoking)

a4

About a year or so ago my sister Angela and I were both having a mutual breakdown. We were just really both in a life slump and we were crying and lamenting the things that were causing us to be unhappy. As she wiped a tear she said, “man, I wish mom was alive. I just feel like things would be better or she’d know what to do. Things would be so different, I think.” I nodded in agreement. After a minute of silence, I told her I often wonder what our lives would look life if she never passed away from brain cancer. It’s sad because I can’t even begin to imagine it but I always have felt like some of my heartbreak in life would be less maybe if I never had to grieve her or maybe I wouldn’t be struggling to get my shit together with a career if she was alive because she was so good at that stuff.

I then said, “well, I probably would have never met Will…if she never died. I would have never gone to a college so close if she wasn’t sick. I would have been hours away somewhere and likely would have never met him.” She admitted that was weird to think about. She then proceeded to think. “I would have never had Genevieve or Adela.” I agreed. She probably wouldn’t have. If my mom had been alive she would have never gone down the path she did (even though some of it was trouble) to then lead her to a good place with her now husband Kris (who is much older than her and who she wouldn’t have dared to date if my mom was alive). “Wow that’s so weird to think about,” I said. “So weird to think about the people we wouldn’t have in our lives or the future we might be living right now or the things we never would have experienced.” I wouldn’t say we are gung ho “everything happens for a reason” type people but we both kind of agreed that I guess the things that happened led to where we were and that I guess we can’t really speculate on if things would be better or we’d be happier….only that our mom would be alive.

And that’s the essence of Maybe in Another Life — what if you made the other choice? In the main character’s case the pivotal moment hinges on whether or not she chooses to go home with a guy she was in love with in high school or go home with her friend instead. And then both alternate version of her life play out in alternating chapters — the life she’d live had she gone home with him and the one that happens if she doesn’t. It was fascinating and thought-provoking and emotional for me because I think about these things a lot. I am a big “what if?” person…a person who gets lost in the idea of the Butterfly Effect. What if she didn’t die? What if I didn’t get scared and followed through with my idea to go to FIDM in LA after college? What if I never met this person?? What if I chose this instead? Would I be more happy? Would I feel like I had my shit more together? WHAT IF? WHAT IF?

Maybe in Another explores ideas like soulmates and fate and destiny really beautifully. One of the things that struck me is that in both of her alternate versions of her life at that splitting off point is that some truths are a reality in both versions though she may come to them differently (example: her career choice, a breakdown of a relationship, a fracture in her relationship with her family that needs healing, the steadfast love of people who have always been her surrogate family, her strong relationship with her bff). And she experiences a great deal of happiness and hardships in both. As a reader I personally couldn’t decide if one version was better than the other. I enjoyed watching each version play out and to see where things would be different and what things may end up being the same and I can’t say I wished one to be her actual reality more than the other because good and bad things happen in each. They both just feel so right.

I think it confirmed for me that we could speculate about if we’d be happier or a million other things at any point but we can never ever know because we are where we are right now and nowhere else. I would have loved to not have gone through losing my mom but I can’t deny the things that it led me to or that it made me the person I am today or the lessons I learned from it that have allowed me to be there for others in my life who have lost someone or how it’s made me closer to some people by sharing that bond of losing a parent. Would I be happier? I don’t know. I could be even more of a mess, let’s be real. It’s easy to think that the grass might be greener but I don’t think it’s that simple. It’s easy to think a loss of pain in one way wouldn’t have brought another. Or that happiness could so easily be exchanged. Maybe it comes in different forms — all that pain and happiness would still exist even if you come by it differently.

What I know is, that like the main character in both versions of her life, I feel like I am where I should be. I can’t imagine not having Will as my husband. I can’t imagine not having my precious nieces in my life right now and all the joy they’ve brought me. I can’t imagine an alternate version in which maybe I didn’t become as close with my sister through losing my mom. And maybe in another life I’d have all of these things. Maybe I wouldn’t. I can’t imagine an alternate version because that’s not what happened, that’s not what life I’m living. At the end of the day, despite how much I miss my mom every day and wish she never passed, I’m grateful for the path that I’m on and all the happiness, pain, lessons and experiences I’ve had on the way. I could speculate myself to death on what my life would be at a million different splitting off points and choices and what ifs…. and that’s a pretty fruitless exercise because the thing I know is that in any alternate life I would experience great happiness, great pain, great love and great loss and that’s just all part of this whole living life thing and not one version would ever be perfect.

Special shout-out to one of my FAVORITE bff-ships in recent reading history!

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ love for characters, concept of book, how thought-provoking it was
–  selfishly wanted to know which reality actually happened even though I’m happy for her in both?

Should you read it? YES! Very much recommend.

Should you buy it or borrow it? Hmm well honestly for me it’s a buy because at this point I want to own all Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books. I say buy it if it’s a genre you enjoy, borrow if not? I mean, you can always buy it if you love it anyways, right? I will be keeping my copy on my shelves though it’s going around to a few friends and family members first.


a5fans of thought-provoking fiction, readers of contemporary adult fiction, fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s other books, people who are “what if?” kind of people who think about destiny and fate a lot

a8Maybe In Another Life was an absolutely thought-provoking book without being a pretentious sort of book. I loved watching the two lives of Hannah play out — the life where she says yes to going home with Ethan and the one where she doesn’t. It was a book that deeply resonated with me and I dogearred so many passages along the way plus I love the way it explored the concepts of “home” and family. I swooned at the romances but where my heart felt the most was absolutely in the friendship between Hannah and Gabby — the one most powerful constant in both versions that play out.

review-on-post-it

maybe-in-another-life

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?

 

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.

Comments

  1. I completely agree that this book is thought provoking. It really made me wonder about the direction I take and choices I make, but more about whether there could possibly be an alternate universe out there with another me in it. Great review!

  2. One of the reasons I love TJR is because all of her books make me think. This one especially. I loved it so much – I’m glad you did too! Wait until you read One True Loves!!

  3. Sounds interesting! I love how many books like this are coming out at the moment. Thanks for sharing your personal experiences too <3

  4. AHHHH, yes, I loved this book so much! Had never heard of this author, but spotted the book at the library and picked it up. I agree with all of what you’ve said here- I just picked up another one of her books and can’t wait to read!

  5. I totally loved this book. I’m with you on the “what if?” thing. I always wonder this. I wonder if I had chosen the cheapest college on my list instead of the most expensive. If I had gone into teaching instead of marketing. Would I still have Chris somehow? Would I have found someone else? I thought everything in this story was handled so beautifully and YES the bff-ship was honestly like no other. One of my all-time favorites. I was pretty happy with the end but totally know how you feel about wanting to know!

  6. i really enjoyed this book as well. have you seen sliding doors? i don’t want to put spoilers in the comments, but the only thing i didn’t like in this book is how certain things were different in both lives, but others were the same? you know? but overall i loved it. also, the BFFs were amazing. I want to be friends with them!

  7. That sounds like a really incredible book!! I often think about the “what ifs” in life – particularly about college. I sometimes wish I had gone to a different school to push my boundaries a bit, but chances are I never would have met some of my best friends or my husband if I hadn’t gone to the university I attended. It’s a very thought provoking topic for a book – I’ll have to pick it up!!

  8. I loved this book SO MUCH!!! It was so thought provoking for me too. What I loved about it was that Hannah was happy in BOTH versions of her life. In both versions, she didn’t feel like anything was missing. And yeah, the friendship between Hannah and Gabi was AWESOME! Loved that.

  9. Great review Jamie! Glad to hear you enjoyed this one; the premise reminds me a lot of the movie Sliding Doors (which I also loved). I’ve been bumping it up the need-to-pick-up list but we’ll see when I actually do xD

  10. Ahh! I cannot wait to read this! I think about this kind of stuff all of the time!

  11. Melissa @ Writer Grrl Reads says:

    Beautiful review. Tiff @ Mostly YA Lit sent me this book in my TBTB Secret Santa package, and I’m so grateful that she did. TJR writes incredible stories, and this one blew me away. My husband and I have had a similar conversation to the one you had with your sister. He lost a cousin suddenly at 21, who was stabbed in a bar fight. It shattered his world and ultimately propelled him to move West, where we eventually met. Although it was sad that he lost his cousin so young, it really is a reminder that everything that happens in our lives, from the big things to the tiny things, all shape our fates. After I finished the book, I passed it along to my coworker who split up with her husband last year. She loved it for a whole different reason, about learning that there isn’t necessarily only one man for her, and that she can have a chance at finding love again.