Friday, April 3, 2020

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

From Goodreads:
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?
The book Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid blew me away, so of course I wanted to pick up more of her work. The current global turmoil decided me in favor of reading something that sounded light and sweet, so I wound up with one of her earlier novels, Maybe in Another Life, in my hands.

It's about the choices we make, whether fate exists, and the realization you're responsible for your actions either way. It's about coming to terms with where you end up and how you got there. It's also an ode to love and friendship and finding yourself.

There's a whole Sliding-Doors vibe (full disclosure: I have not seen Sliding Doors). We see what happens to the main character based on the course her life takes after a seemingly minor, yet ultimately key decision made one night.

There are two paths she could take that night, and we follow where each one would have taken her in alternating chapters of the book. Or perhaps where the choices DO take her, in parallel universes. As one character says:
"It’s entirely possible that every time we make a decision, there is a version of us out there somewhere who made a different choice. An infinite number of versions of ourselves are living out the consequences of every single possibility in our lives."
Hannah's life is at odds and ends as the book begins, and whichever path she takes, she'll face a major challenge. How does she deal, how does she make a way forward, is one life or path ultimately better than the other? You gotta read it to find out.

The decision where her life splinters hinges on whether she ends a night out by leaving with a friend or leaving with a former flame (the synopsis gives as much away). I wasn't at all sure I liked the idea that a major turning point in her life depended on whether she went home with a man for the evening. Really, that's the big turning point? BUT, ok, sure, in some cases that could be a legitimate point where a life could diverge, for better or worse, based on whom you decide to go home with, or what street you go down. So I got on board and went with it. And as the book went on and I became invested in both story lines, the fracture point didn't seem as important, anyway.

Maybe In Another Life delivers a hopeful read about finding your way both personally and professionally, as well as embracing love, family and friendship. With so much uncertainty in the world, this is a good read for right now to help us remember that we can survive a few bumps in the road.

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