Title: Someone Else’s Love Story
Author: Joshilyn Jackson
Release Date: November 19, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
In spite of her mother’s ire at the decision, Shandi Pierce has decided to move herself and her three-year-old son to Atlanta, to live in her father’s (and dreaded stepmother’s) condo while finishing up college. The drive back and forth from home has been too much for her, and it’s a great opportunity to put her genius-level child, Nathan, into better schools. But on the way to move in Shandi and Nathan are caught in a holdup at a gas station. There, Shandi meets William, a man with Asperger’s and a broken heart, who steps between the barrel of a gun and Nathan. Shandi becomes convinced that William can help her find her destiny—and that William is supposed to be an important part of that.
Though the premise of Joshilyn Jackson’s Someone Else’s Love Story may sound complex, it’s about the simplest and purest thing of all: love. Shandi must come to terms with her past and understand that destiny isn’t some far-flung idea floating out there; it’s what’s in our hearts and in the choices we make. Jackson’s novel is touching, heartfelt, and entirely entertaining, a great read from beginning to end.
Joshilyn Jackson writes Southern fiction, novels that bring the unique culture of the South to life for the reader. Her latest novel, Someone Else’s Love Story, does that in spades. The setting is an integral part of the story; the reader gets the sense that this novel couldn’t have taken place anywhere else, at any other time. It’s that wonderful sense of place that really grounds the reader into the novel, drawing them into the plot and characters.
Shandi is a wonderful central character in Someone Else’s Love Story. In some ways, she’s so much older than her early-twenties age; she seems like an old soul, haunted by her past. But in others, she seems very, very young, inexperienced, and immature. The novel is about Shandi trying to find herself and where she fits into the greater world around her. It’s difficult to not absolutely love her, and readers will really feel her sadness and desperation as she tries to come to terms with her life, as it is and has been.
But Shandi doesn’t have sole narrating duties; she shares that responsibility with William. While he never tells us he has Asperger’s, it’s clear from the beginning of his narration that it (or something similar) is the case. His emotionally detached narrating juxtaposes nicely with Shandi’s sometimes-overemotional story; the two balance each other out well. But just because William is detached doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel anything; he’s mourning the loss of his beloved wife, Bridget. Unlike Shandi, who is trying to find her place in this world, William is seeking a way out of it; he believes one of the bullets in that gun has his name written on it. That is his destiny, to go to a place where he doesn’t feel this loss and sadness anymore.
These two damaged characters find one another in Someone Else’s Love Story, and through that, they begin to heal. Both are equally intriguing and appealing, and readers will appreciate Jackson’s commentary on destiny and fate. The choices these characters, and those around them, make resonate throughout the book, and it’s only by making these fateful decisions that we can come to understand our destinies, whatever they may be.
Other books by Joshilyn Jackson: