I received this book for free from the publisher / She Reads in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
Published by William Morrow on November 19, 2013
Source: the publisher / She Reads
Goodreads | Amazon
Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Nathan, aka Natty Bumppo, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced parents. She's got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up and falling in love with William Ashe, who willingly steps between the 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 world. But William doesn't define destiny the way others do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in facts and numbers, destiny to him is about choice. Now, he 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.
This review should have been posted weeks ago, but I’ve been having a hard time deciding what I want to say. Someone Else’s Love Story isn’t the kind of book I usually enjoy reading, really, but it’s a cute story. For the most part. The story has one major flaw that almost outweighs all the good things about it. So for this review, I’m going to go with the Pros/Cons list. Ready?
1. I love the opening line:
“I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K.”
I appreciate how this line immediately drew me into the story. It’s quite vague, if you think about it. Was William Ashe holding the gun? Was the narrator holding the gun? Was someone completely different holding the gun? WHO WAS HOLDING THE GUN? And why did that person decide to hold up a Circle K? And how do you fall in love with someone in that situation? I’ve heard all about the crazy lust that can happen in extreme, life-threatening situations. The threat of death seems to make lots of people randy, but actually falling in love is a very different thing. This sentence made me want to keep reading, which is a good thing considering I’m not really into cutesy romances. (I didn’t read anything about the book before reading the book itself, so I didn’t have the above synopsis to answer all of my questions. I’m glad.)
2. All of the characters are screwed up in their own ways. No one in the story is perfect. They’re flawed. They have issues. Thank goodness for relatively realistic characters. I think they all could have been a bit more developed, but again, I don’t think Someone Else’s Love Story is meant to be an overly deep story.
3. The story itself is rather good. It’s not all hugs, butterflies, and cutesy romance. It has some of that stuff in it, but overall it’s pretty down to earth. I don’t remember doing a whole lot of eye-rolling. See, here’s the thing: I’m a hopeless romantic but for some reason I don’t necessarily like romance in my reading. Strange, huh? If Eric had done the things Will does for his wife in the book, I would have been all, “OH MY GOD, YOU ARE THE SWEETEST, BEST THING EVER. I LOVE YOU.” When I read about romance-y stuff in books, I’m more like, “Meh. Whatever. CHEESY.” I don’t know why this is. But I didn’t feel that way too often while reading this book. There is cute, romance-y stuff happening, yes, but there’s also tragedy and heartbreak and realism. It’s a good mix.
Okay. There is only one major con in Someone Else’s Love Story, and talking about it might be a bit spoiler-y (even though this detail is predictable and super easy to figure out from the very beginning). If you feel like you might want to read the book, and you don’t want to know anything specific about it, maybe you should skip this part.
SPOILER-Y TALK STARTS NOW:
HOLY RAPE APOLOGIA, BATMAN. Seriously. I don’t think Joshilyn Jackson meant it to come across that way (at least I hope not), but that doesn’t make me any less irritated with it. Here’s the deal: Shandi’s son was conceived when Shandi was still in high school (if I remember correctly…I don’t think she’d made it to college yet, but I could be wrong here). He was conceived when Shandi was raped by a college guy at a frat party. There is no doubt about the fact that she was raped. She was very drunk/drugged (which the guy acknowledges he knew), and there was no way she could make rational decisions about her behavior. This guy took advantage of that and had sex with her as part of his frat pledge, or some such crap. That’s rape. Plain and simple. HOWEVER, by the end of the story, he’s explaining himself and making excuses and trying to blame part of it on Shandi. And Shandi is listening. And she’s considering forgiving him and maybe letting him into her son’s life. It all comes across as Jackson saying, “There are some cases when rape isn’t rape. You know, like when the woman is drunk and acts like she wants it. Yeah, maybe she can’t make rational decisions, but is that the man’s fault? Naaaah. Let him explain himself and then maybe forgive him. After all, it was partly her fault, too.” No. Just no. And this one situation in the book made me want to throw the book across the room and forget every nice thing I had been planning on saying about it. Really. Again, I’m thinking Jackson doesn’t really feel this way, but that doesn’t make it any less terrible.
I’m really surprised that no one else has mentioned this in the reviews I’ve read about Someone Else’s Love Story over the past few weeks. I’m also a bit disheartened. I can’t be the only one who feels this way about it. Did y’all just not feel like addressing it? Curious. (There may be other reviews out there that address this, but I personally haven’t read any.)
(END OF SPOILER-Y TALK)
Would I recommend this book to others? Sure. If you’re into Chick Lit (for lack of a more acceptable description), I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. The story is good, the writing is good, and it’s a quick, easy read. Am I disappointed that those things were kind of ruined by the thing I talked about above? Yep. That part of the story could have and should have been handled differently. Lots of bloggers who share my reading tastes really like Jackson’s books, though, so I’m willing to give her another chance and read something else by her in the future. If you’ve read Someone Else’s Love Story, what did you think of the issue I have with the book? I’d love to hear your thoughts.