~ Book Review: Maybe in Another Life ~

Published: July 7, 2015

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

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.

Taylor Jenkins Reid has been an author recommended to me more times than I can count. While many of her novels are on my TBR, I somehow haven’t experienced one yet. I finally decided to change this and begin with Maybe in Another Life. This story follows 29-year-old Hannah Martin who has no place to officially call home. After a recent messy break-up situation, she has decided to relocate to her old home of Los Angeles from New York. She will be staying with her best friend Gabby and her husband Mark. During a night out, she is presented with a choice with her ex-boyfriend and high school sweetheart, Ethan. He offers her a ride home, but Hannah originally decides to go home with Gabby. The novel explores two stories, the one where she went with Gabby and another world where she stayed with Ethan.

As the story moves forward, the writing bounces back and forth between the two worlds. The transitions were sudden, so it takes a second to adjust every time it changed to the other world. The two scenarios have both ups and downs for Hannah where Ethan is her love interest in one and Henry, a nurse, is her love interest in the other. For me, I immediately did not care about the scenario with Ethan. In the scenario where Hannah leaves, it is hinted that Ethan instead went home with their former classmate Katheryn. Before even getting into the actual story where Hannah stayed with Ethan that night and the novel has the chance to show me how great they would be together, my mind, unfortunately, shut down him as a decent choice. Even if he felt rejected that night, for me it wasn’t an excuse as he could have just connected with her the next day, but I digress as myself in a story would make different decisions than Hannah.

As a character, I wish there was more depth to Hannah aside from her obsession with putting her hair into a bun, her love of cinnamon rolls, and her description of herself as “curvy” with big boobs. The hair and cinnamon rolls are repeat for what seems like over a hundred times in the story and it was way too much. The main personality trait is her believing that her poor decisions in the past mean that she’s screwed for the future as she’s old. The way it is described in this book sounded like life ended at 30, which is not a great message as I don’t think this was ever dealt with fully. There is also a lot of emphasis on fate/destiny, but the events don’t go together with it. The content and theme don’t go together as the details don’t support the idea of fate and/or destiny.

I love the concept of the “what-if” scenario as it is always interesting to think about the possibilities if one small decision was changed in your past. For me, this story read best without bogging down your brain thinking about the small details. The dog, the other patients of Henry’s when he spends time with Hannah, Gabby, Ethan, Henry, and every other person involved. There are events around babies, and I wish this subject got treated with more care. Like cinnamon rolls and hair in buns, it is repeated a lot, but there was no exploration into why Hannah would want to be a mom or not. It plays a role in the story, and she says she “has” to do something, but there is zero evidence to support it. Essentially, this was my main issue with this story. Many things are said and done with authority yet there isn’t evidence to support them.  Overall, the general outline of the story was great, but the details failed to live up to the concept for me. Since this is an early Jenkins release, I think her writing most likely improved over time, so I will read more of her releases in the future.

2 thoughts on “~ Book Review: Maybe in Another Life ~

  1. Great review – I’ve read some of her other books and from the sounds of your review I’d say she’s definitely gotten better at developing characters. I have toyed with picking this one up but something about is a little off putting


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