Friday, December 27, 2013

Someone Else's Love Story

Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson is the first book I’ve ever read by this author, but it definitely won’t be the last. I finished it last Tuesday and between work, volunteering, last-minute Christmas shopping, and then the actual holidays, this is the first chance I’ve gotten to sit down and actually write a post. I loved everything about the book – the lovable characters, the witty, hilarious humor, and last but not least, the sweet and heart-warming love stories. Yup, two happy endings for the price of one! If you are a hopeless romantic like moi, you will love this book as much as I did.

In Someone’s Else’s Love Story Shandi Pierce and her genius three-year old son, Nathan aka Natty Bumppo, have just moved out of her mom’s home where she lived for the past 17 years since she was four-years old and her parents had split up. Shandi was trading her mom’s, Mimmy, mountainside retreat for her dad’s three bedroom condo in order to reduce a four-hour road trip to a 10 minute commute on her daily drive to the Georgia State Campus where she attends classes. Walcott, Shandi’s best friend since the age of five when they met as “the outsiders at a milk-white elementary school in a so-white-it-was-practically-Wonder-Bread county" where Shandi "was the only half-a-Jew for miles, and Walcott was the sperm-donated product of a pair of lesbians” was yet again proving his best-friendhood by helping her pack, load up the car, and keep Natty entertained on the drive to the condo.

An inopportune stop for snacks at a gas station mini-mart while on the drive to Atlanta causes an unexpected turn in Shandi’s life since that’s where she falls madly in love with William Ashe, at gunpoint no less, when during a hold-up at the mini-mart William selflessly puts his big body between the gun and Natty. “And that was it. That was when it happened. I lowered my body to the ground, and all of me was falling, faster than I could physically move, way further than a glance or an attraction, falling so hard into deep, red, desperate love…I fell all the way to the molten center of the earth, blazing into total, perfect feeling for the big blond wall of a man who had put himself between my child and bullets, before our eyes had ever met, before I so much as knew his name.” A wounded but captured perp and two shot people later, including William, Shandi is sure this thing between them is “destiny” though unfortunately the feelings aren’t mutual.

When William uttered the word “destiny” after being shot it didn’t have the same love-fueled meaning that Shandi thought; that fateful day at the gas station was exactly one year since the tragic loss of someone William loved, and through his bold and reckless act of heroism the destiny he sought was escape from the unrelenting pain of his loss. William is a brilliant geneticist who believes in science and numbers, not destiny, fate or God; but as Shandi takes care of him during his recovery from the gunshot, the two form an unlikely bond and reveal unexpected truths to one another which will help them each heal, forgive, and meet their respective destinies head-on.

This was such a funny, charming and poignant novel. It perfectly captures the beauty of forgiveness and how by facing our fears and letting go of the mistakes and demons in our past we can both discover our future and be stronger person for it. Like the book jacket perfectly states “it’s a story about discovering what we want and ultimately finding what we need.”

The characters are perfectly written. I loved Shandi and the more I learned about her and the experiences she’d faced despite her young age, I couldn’t help but root for her happiness; even if at times she seemed a little confused about where that happiness awaited her. William was a lovable hunk of a man; his only flaw being the fact that at times he was a “computer brain” - his genius causing him to sometimes overthink the meaningful moments in his life, instead of just feeling with his heart. Shandi and William’s respective best friends, Walcott and Paula, are a huge part of the novel and Paula in particular was just a joy to read about. She was incredibly sassy, flawed and downright hilarious. I can only hope that the next book is about Paula. Some secondary characters in novels are just so wonderful, that they manage to grab a little place all of their own in your heart, and such was the case with Paula.

There are some unexpected reveals in the book that I didn’t see coming, but which I loved. It may not be a thriller but Someone Else's Love Story is no less of a page-turner for I was completely drawn in by the lives, loves and regrets of these authentic and memorable characters and I couldn't wait to get to the last page in hopes that they'd each find a happily ever after of their own.