Monday, September 14, 2015

Review: Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published: July 7, 2015 by Washington Square Press
Source: Purchased ebook
From the acclaimed author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do comes a breathtaking new novel about a young woman whose fate hinges on the choice she makes after bumping into an old flame; in alternating chapters, we see two possible scenarios unfold—with stunningly different results.

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him. [goodreads]

This was my first experience reading a book with alternating plots, based on a character's decisions.  I found this concept to be really intriguing.  As the reader, you're able to see how a story may unfold differently based on the choices that the character makes.  This is something I often think about in my own life: if I had chosen option B, instead of A, how different would the outcome be?  For Hannah, her path in life has an alternate route because of a decision she made one night while out with friends.  The series of events that follow weave their way in different directions, yet eerily similar in other ways as well.

Hannah has moved around from city to city after her parents moved to London during her formative years, leaving her without a home and always searching, longing for that belonging feeling.  She finally decides to move back to L.A., where she grew up, borrowing a room in her best friend Gabby's house, until she gets her feet back on the ground.  On her first night back in town, they get together with old friends, including Hannah's high school sweetheart, Ethan -- the one who got away and she has constantly wondered about.  After a night of dancing, talking, laughing, and enjoying the company of one another she has a decision to make: stay at the bar with Ethan and see where the night takes them, or leave with Gabby who is her ride home.  We see the story unfold from here as if she'd chosen both paths.

Is fate determined by our choices?  Or is it something left up to a higher being, lighting our paths as we go?  Hannah questions this in both scenarios that are being told.  In alternating chapters we see how Hannah navigates the consequences of her choices and everything that ensues as a result.  I was never truly tied to one path over the other.  I found myself interested in both, just as equally.  It was the constant of Hannah's relationship with her best friend Gabby in both versions of the story that really pulled at my heart the most.  And quite possibly the stand out star of the entire process.

I recommend this book for fans of alternate endings, or for anyone who questions where we'd be if we'd chosen a different path.  Overall I was very much interested in the storyline itself, and not so much with the characters.  But sometimes, in the end, that's enough to equal a more than pleasant reading experience.


  1. I really enjoyed this book too! I was impressed that I was equally invested in both story lines (and romantic outcomes). And I love the whole message about the myth of 'The One'! Lovely review! I actually picked this book up because I saw you were reading it (on Twitter or GR or something) so that you for the passive recommendation haha

  2. Loved this one! Definitely not my favourite of TJR's (After I Do will be forever and ever) but this one was so fascinating with the dual timelines and one of the best i've read that did it. Have you read Forever, Interrupted as well? She does it really well there too I think!

    I think the femship in this book was absolutely brilliant and if Hannah and Gabby had just decided to live out their lives as single best friends who live and do everything together, i'm pretty sure I would have been so happy either way!

  3. I really love Taylor Jenkins Reid novels. They always manage to make me think! MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE is certainly no exception. I love that it challenged and expressed my feelings on fate and choice, and I really think it was handled well! So thrilled to see that you enjoyed this one as well.


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