You'll want your own love story after reading this.
About Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson: At twenty-one, Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Natty, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced Catholic mother and Jewish father. She’s got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up in a gas station mini-mart and falling in love with a great wall of a man named William Ashe, who willingly steps between the armed robber and her son.
Shandi doesn’t know that her blond god Thor has his own complications. When he looked down the barrel of that gun he believed it was destiny: It’s been one year to the day 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, he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head on, in a funny, charming, and poignant novel about science and miracles, secrets and truths, faith and forgiveness; about a virgin birth, a sacrifice, and a resurrection; about falling in love, and learning that things aren’t always what they seem—or what we hope they will be. It’s a novel about discovering what we want and ultimately finding what we need.
My two centsI put this down with a sigh and a smile on my face. It's a love story that I can't help but like. I didn't roll my eyes once; I did not find anything cheesy or corny or sappy; and I did not at any time have the urge to gag. As you probably have inferred, romances make me do that in general ... but this book is a rare exception.
The book opens dramatically: I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K. We walk into this robbery as it is happening and are introduced first to William Ashe ... and the woman narrating, Shandi Pierce, is a young mother of an adorable three-year-old. The first chapter was so well written, Jackson, just had me in the palm of her hand!
The storyline delves into this "love story" we've unwittingly stumbled upon. But life is never simple (is it?) and we learn about the tragedies in these two characters' lives:
Shandi, caught in the crossfire of this robbery, was waylaid from her new start in her life away from her mother Mimmy. Her adorable and love-of-her-life Natty is a precocious child. But Shandi has done everything in her power justify her lovely child—including believing in a virgin birth - to erase the horrible truth of one night at a college party which Shandi has virtually no memory of.
William, was in the middle of buying detergent on the anniversary of his wife's death. William has not only lost his wife but his daughter, who is around the same age as Natty.
The robbery plays itself out and impels two people at a crossroads in their lives to deal with their past and create the lives they are worthy of.
***I love the idea of love, but time has taught me that loving takes time, effort, and commitment. Sometimes, too, love shows up in the most unexpected places and in the most unexpected of people. While this is entitled "someone else's love story," this has actually multiple love stories which highlight the sweetness, the tragedy, and the unpredictability of loving. (I don't dare give spoilers, but I loved how the story played out!)
I enjoyed how unique, complicated (and quirky!) the characters were, not only just Shandi and William: the geeky Walcott (Shandi's long time best friend), spunky Paula (William's one time fling and then become fast friend who stuck by him after losing his wife), Mimmy (Shandi's dear gorgeous mother and Natty's rather cloying grandmother), and even the annoying robber. They were well fleshed out, and had credible backstories. They felt real, their dialogues were unique and realistic, and they all had their own little moments in the story ... a combination of so many good things that these characters were memorable to me.
The storytelling shifts between Shandi's first person narration to third person narration and back; I was surprised that it did not grate on me at all. I found this very deftly accomplished and lent a rather additive pacing to the story.
The way Ms. Jackson writes is interesting and engaging, nor does she mince words—the detail, the little nuances she has with the characters, the metaphors so deftly used, oh, and the sly sly humour—I loved everything about it. I am eager to see what else she has written solely because I'd like to see what else she has up her sleeve!
Verdict: A sweet and charming yet dark bundle of love stories that I would wholeheartedly recommend to cynics and hopefuls alike. Definitely something for those who crave a different type of love story minus all the sappy trappings of stereotypical romance novels. Makes my favourite reads for the year!
Uh-ohs: I am writing this section as a warning to potential readers and not because I found these as issues with the book. This has a darkness to it that some people may find off-putting—totally understandable if you're after a love story. There are graphic descriptions of the near-rape, various lovemaking scenes, and some instances of violence.
Joshilyn Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels, including gods in Alabama and A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages. A former actor, Jackson is also an award-winning audiobook narrator. She lives in Decatur, Georgia, with her husband and their two children.
Find out more about Joshilyn at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.
Check out the rest of the tour here.
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (November 19, 2013)