Book Review: Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
“Miracle is another word for magic, and magic is only science, unexplained.”
Someone Else’s Love Story is my fifth Joshilyn Jackson book. I have said many times before about how I love how she writes the South with all its guts and glory. I picked this signed hardcover copy up last year from Alabama Booksmith, and it was one of my books on my Unread Shelf from last year. I enjoyed Someone Else’s Love Story, like I have enjoyed every other Joshilyn Jackson book I’ve read so far. Shandi Pierce and her three year old son, Natty, are moving to Atlanta from Lumpkin County. They stop at a Circle K convenience store, where someone comes in and holds up the store. There they meet William Ashe, who has his own issues that day. This encounter changes both Shandi and William.
Shandi is immediately attracted to William when she sees him, and it’s pretty much love at first sight for her. When a gunman comes in and robs the store, William steps toward Natty to protect him, thus making Shandi feel even more towards this man. As the robbery turns into a hostage situation, Shandi begins to feel more connected to William and believes that destiny brought them together. And when William gets shot, Shandi takes it upon herself and helps him recover. There she meets Paula, William’s best friend, who is not a fan of Shandi. This was a fun discovery for me, because Paula is the protagonist in Jackson’s The Opposite of Everyone. And when I started to think about it, I do remember Paula talking about her oldest friend, William, at one point. So that was a neat little tidbit I wasn’t expecting.
The chapters shift back and forth between Shandi and William’s perspectives, and we find out that William’s daughter Twyla and wife Bridget were in a horrible car crash one year prior to the robbery at the Circle K. William is depressed and hasn’t let himself think about Twyla and Bridget for months, as his own form of grieving. Paula is very adamant that she doesn’t think Shandi is good enough for William and will never replace Bridget. She also mentions to Shandi that William is on the autism spectrum, which Shandi had not picked up on. However, through William’s point of view, the reader had already seen those signs. William’s autism makes his seemingly strange grieving process seem much more believable.
Shandi’s son Natty is an adorable and advanced three-year-old, but Shandi has always believed that he was a miracle. In flashbacks, we learn that Shandi was drugged and raped at a fraternity party, and her best friend, Walcott, came to rescue her. We find out that her hymen was never broken, so she believed she was still “technically” a virgin until after Natty was born. Until the day of the robbery. That day changed something for Shandi, and she wants William, who is a genetic researcher, to find out who Natty’s father is. This is the plotline that drives the whole story forward; however, this was the least interesting part to me. I was much more invested in the relationships among all the characters.
The relationships between Shandi and William and their respective best friends, Walcott and Paula, were some of the most interesting to me. Walcott and Shandi have long been best friends, and the same goes for William and Paula. I liked that Walcott was not a fan of Shandi and William’s relationship, and that Paula was not a fan of Shandi. I found the whole dynamic of these four characters very interesting. Both friend sets had slept with each other at one point, but have moved on from the potentially awkward aftermath and genuinely care for one another.
Another underlying relationship in the book is the relationship between Shandi’s parents. Her parents divorced when she was little because her father is Jewish and her mother is Catholic. The war between the two parents is never fully developed, but their volatile relationship is present throughout the book. At first, it seems like it’s one of those unimportant details, but later on in the story, their relationship becomes a bigger deal and has a direct impact on Shandi. Never doubt Joshilyn Jackson and her seemingly minor details. She always knows what she is doing.
As with all of the previous Joshilyn Jackson novels I’ve read, the last part always throws me for a loop, but in the best way. I don’t want to spoil too much, so I’ll just say I didn’t see something coming and had to read those pages twice to make sure I understood. I really enjoyed Someone Else’s Love Story and loved all the Atlanta references. It’s always fun to read about your city from an author who actually lives here and gets the details right. My favorite Joshilyn Jackson book remains The Almost Sisters, and I plan on reading A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty next before her latest book, Never Have I Ever, comes out in July. I enjoyed Someone Else’s Love Story and give it 4 stars.
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