Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Review: Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Do you believe in fate?  Chance? Do the decisions you make change the path of your future or is that path set so that no matter which choices you make or free will you exhibit you'll get to the same place because you were always destined to be there? And what about multiple universes? If you believe that your decisions drive your future, can there be alternate realities where you chose differently and ended up living a different life? Taylor Jenkins Reid's newest novel, Maybe in Another Life, asks just these questions.

Hannah is 29 years old and after a lifetime of moving around and feeling rootless, she is moving back to LA. She'll live near her best friend Gabby again and maybe even reconnect with Ethan, the high school ex-boyfriend she's always thought might one day turn out to be "the one." On her first night back, she goes out to see a bunch of friends, including Ethan. When Gabby and her husband are ready to go home, Hannah must decide whether she's going to go with them or if she wants to stay out a little longer and pursue what she suspects could in fact happen with Ethan. And in the pivotal moment of making a decision, the universe splits and her life spirals outward from both options, radically changing the trajectory of her life in unexpected ways.

Oddly, both choices are the right one and lead to vastly different outcomes in her life. Both choices also include aspects that must have been fated as well because they happen regardless of her chance decision at the bar. But as the narrative flips back and forth between the two realities that she is living concurrently, her decisions have altered almost everything. The flipping back and forth between the different lives is a little bit confusing and difficult in the beginning but adjusting to the back and forth becomes easier as the novel progresses. And the chapters start to end just when the reader wants them to continue, just when a situation needs resolving or Hannah is on the verge of making another decision, giving the narrative pacing a breathless and anticipatory sort of feel all the way through.

There are echoes from one life to another, especially in the dual endings, that ask us to question whether we could be happy in more than one reality. Is your soul mate the only person out there for you? Is your profession the only one that can be fulfilling? Reid seems to argue that we make our own lives and our own happiness and that we can construct it differently, but no less contentedly, based on chance and our choices. The novel is a fun and quick read with an interesting and quirky concept. Hannah's choices, in both of her lives, will resonate with readers who have probably wondered "what if?" more than once in their own lives. This novel makes is delicious to contemplate those endless possibilities for ourselves.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book for review.


  1. I'm reading this one now, but got a little distracted with another book. I plan to finish it soon and agree that the back and forth thing gets easier as the two paths of life diverge more and more. I'm curious how it will all end - both ways. Definitely food for thought in a book that might seem like a less complicated storyline.

  2. This sounds like Jo Walton's _My Real Children_ -- did you read that?


I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

Popular Posts