Release Date: November 19, 2013
Publisher: HarperCollins | William Morrow
Pages: 352 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Kindle e-book
Amazon | Goodreads
Summary (from Amazon)
At twenty-one, Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Natty, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced Catholic mother and Jewish father. She's got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up in a gas station mini-mart and falling in love with a great wall of a man named William Ashe, who willingly steps between the armed robber and her son.
Shandi doesn't know that her blond go 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 universe. But William doesn't define destiny the way other people do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in science 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.
Cassie and I were chatting about our love for adult fiction, and we wanted to figure out a way to really highlight that love with a new feature. So, we're bringing you adult fiction reviews where we highlight five factors: The Frame (Setting), The Flow (Plot), The Faces (Characters), The Function (Writing Overall) and The Feelings (Relationships).
Each of our posts will highlight our own thoughts on each of the five factors, so you can see side-by-side how our opinions stack up. Then, it all culminates in The Finale where we jointly share our overall feelings on the book with a rating that helps you find out how this book factors into our favorites pile.
Someone Else's Love Story is actually set in Georgia, which is where I've spent all my life. As much as I wanted to love the setting, I felt like it was such a minor element in the story. I've never read anything by Jackson before and always hear her books referred to as really great Southern reads. Shandi lives in a small-town with her mother, but the book opens with her moving into her father's apartment in Atlanta to be closer to her college and give her three-year-old son new opportunities in the city.
To be honest, I was a bit disappointed that the book didn't feel more Southern to me! I was expecting great things from this author because I've heard so much about how the setting is usually pretty important (or at least contributes more) to her books. I didn't dislike the setting, but nothing about it really stood out to me. There wasn't anything that felt very Southern to me or seemed like it was unique to Georgia.
Hmm... I don't feel like I can say very much here without spoiling some of the book. So, I'll try to be very vague. I had some major issues with the plot of this book. Shandi is involved in a stick-up in a gas station mini-mart while she's making her way to Atlanta. The event - combined with who she's held up with - leads her to confront something in her past that's remained unresolved. She enlists William's help in her project, which will have unexpected consequences.
I really enjoyed the portion of the book that took place during the stick-up - it was tense, interesting and engaging. But it all went downhill after that point. The pace completely drops off after the robbery, and I struggled through it. The plot is incredibly frustrating, and it's made only more so by the difficult characters. I can't say what what so annoying about the plot, but it was pretty bad. There is also this weird thing about Someone Else's Love Story where it felt like nothing was happening while simultaneously having too many things going on when it came to details and sub-plots.
Struggle. The two protagonist's in Someone Else's Love Story were so tricky. William may possibly have Asperger's, which would mean he is on the autism spectrum. I'm not sure if this was portrayed accurately, but it would have definitely made him an interesting (although difficult) character. The way his mind works is so different that it's hard to relate to him, and it doesn't help that his personal tragedy and storyline is overshadowed by Shandi's. I didn't dislike him, but I didn't feel he was fully fleshed out. I'm still not even sure if he had autism since it was only implied but never clear.
And then there's Shandi. About halfway through the book, I had to put my Kindle down and text Cassie to tell her how much I hated Shandi. She didn't make any sense to me at all! I mean, seriously, I was completely baffled by this character. It didn't start out that way, but there are things that she says and does that made it so hard for me to enjoy hearing from her point of view. Again, I can't really talk much about it because I'm too scared of spoiling anything... but characters were not a win for me in this book.
As you can probably tell, Someone Else's Love Story just wasn't the book for me. The plot and characters drove me crazy, but I can still appreciate the way Jackson writes. There were moments in this story where I kept thinking that I would like Jackson so much more if I was reading a different plot or this plot had different characters. So, I clearly wasn't a fan here... but I can still see glimmers of hope!
I think I need to give her another shot, which seems to be the consensus on Goodreads when it comes to this book. It doesn't sound like this is the best representation of her writing, so I'm willing to try another book by her in the future. But that's only because I know she's loved by so many... If it was based solely on this book alone, I likely wouldn't seek out anything else by the author.
I feel like I sound like a broken record at this point! The relationships and feelings in Someone Else's Love Story remained pretty surface level for me throughout the book. As I've already mentioned, I struggled with the plot and the characters... so it probably comes as no surprise that I wasn't really able to connect with the relationships in this book as a result. There are a variety of relationships in this book - Shandi and her son, Shandi and her divorced parents, Shandi and her best friend, William and his best friend, Shandi and William, etc. - but I never fell in love with any of them. I think that the book's lack of focus affected the emotions because it never really resonated for me.
Me: Okay, Cassie! Someone Else's Love Story was our first experience with Joshilyn Jackson. Did it live up to your expectations?
Cass: Unfortunately, Han, I can't say it did! It was NOT a good experience for me, but on the upside, I will give Ms. Jackson another go... How about you?
Me: I feel the same way! I'm not sure if my expectations were too high or this was just the wrong book to choose first. I'll definitely give Joshilyn Jackson another shot since I know how much everyone seems to love her. But this one really didn't work for me!
Cass: Same. I wish it were not the case though! So, let's discuss, exactly where did it go wrong for you? What element didn't work?
Me: Honestly, I was pretty disappointed with a lot of things with this one. I think the characters were the biggest reason I disliked the book, but I also really struggled with the plot and the setting. It didn't seem Southern to me AT ALL! What about you?
Cass: The characters! I mean, let's keep in mind I did listen via audio, and the narrator made our MC seem like a whiny annoying child. I just COULDN'T take her. So, definitely the characters were the downfall. Not only could I not connect, but I also DESPISED our main MALE MC.
Me: Yeah, I can see how audio would influence your feelings on the characters! I didn't hate William, but I COULDN'T STAND Shandi by the end. It was such a shame because I've heard Jackson usually writes these strong, complex female characters. But goodness, Shandi was a total mess!
Cass: Hahaha, I so agree. She was a wreck. A hot mess.
Me: Completely agree! Obviously.
Cass: So, FOR YOU was there any saving grace with this one?
Me: There wasn't! I'm actually kinda sad about it. I can't think of anything I enjoyed about this one. What about you?
Cass: I loved the best friend in the novel - I thought he was sweet & kind, and I DID look forward to his parts!
Me: Hmm.. I did kinda like him. But bless his heart! I wish he was residing in a completely different story and not stuck with these lousy people as his companions.
Cass: Ahahhaha, ok, I would enjoy that too. I can totes see him in Attachments hanging with the leading ladies there!
Me: OMG. BE STILL MY HEART. I would read that fan fiction!
Cass: I'll write, you read? ;)
Me: I love that plan! I think you can probably guess that my rating for this one is, unfortunately, Far From Favorite. You?
Cass: I am gonna have to second that one! However, we will give it another go with A Grown Up Kind of Pretty another time! Yes?
Me: Sounds like a plan to me!
Cass: Good! See ya next month for The Likeness [hint: I already read it!] ;)
Me: Oh shush you little overachiever!
Cass: You know how I roll! ;)
- The Consensus -
Don't forget to check out Cassie's thoughts!