Book Review: Maybe in Another Life

After quite a few YA parallel world books, I wanted to find some more adult ones.  Here, There and Everywhere was quite different from the YA ones I’d been reading, and Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid is also about adults…even if it’s another love triangle (sort of).

Twenty-nine year old Hannah Martin moves back to her hometown of LA to stay with her best friend Gabby, hoping to get her life on track after ending an affair with a married man and quitting another dead-end job.  On her first night back in town, she and Gabby meet Hannah’s high school boyfriend Ethan at a bar.  Hannah has a choice—go home with Gabby, or stay with Ethan.  In alternating chapters, we watch how Hannah’s life unfolds based on each decision, going in very different directions–and pursuing two different guys.

So, this is very much like Sliding Doors, down to the alternative romances, secrets that come out in one path but not another, and questions about how a split-second moment can change everything that follows.  I like the contrasting stories quite a bit, and I liked how insights in one life could explain what was happening in the other life…but of course, Hannah isn’t privy to that knowledge.

Hannah is a pretty good heroine, well-meaning but flailing a bit, and really trying to get her life on track.  She’s someone who is going to be awesome soon, and is just starting to find her way.  Gabby is already pretty awesome, totally loyal and supportive of Hannah, and I love her tic of being very, very feminist in her conversation (example, mentioning that a high school friend has lost a lot of weight and is doing great—then hastily adding that she was, of course, a great person before too).

Hannah’s romance with Ethan is very sweet, and I loved the way their history has shaped both their lives.  Which is both a pro and a con of the book…because they were so delightful in one life, it felt like they drifted other directions too easily in the other life.  Based on the Ethan we got to know in one path, it’s hard to believe he gave up so quickly on the other path.  That path has its own romance which is nice enough—but I guess I was Team Ethan.

This points to what was my one real gripe with the book, which was that the paths felt unbalanced; one was both much more active and more positive than the other.  It redresses a bit by the end, but it felt a little off throughout going back and forth.

This one isn’t sci fi or fantasy, and the characters never cross between worlds or realize an alternative life exists.  The parallelness only comes in thematically, as Hannah wonders about fate and soulmates.  But it does explore how our lives can turn out in alternate ways, which is my favorite thing about parallel world stories!

Author’s Site:

Other reviews:
Aesta’s Book Blog
The Young Folks
Maryse’s Book Blog
Anyone else?

Buy it here: Maybe in Another Life

One thought on “Book Review: Maybe in Another Life

  1. dianem57

    I think Ethan had to give up on her rather quickly in one of the versions in order to make way for the alternate romance to play out. You make a good point that one story was considerably more positive than the other, but maybe the author’s point was that this could happen in two alternate universes. I thought the two stories tied up rather well at the end, though, so that redeemed the more negative aspects of the one version. I enjoyed this book and seeing how the two paths diverged so dramatically from the one incident at the start.

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