Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Dreamscape Media, LLC on August 18, 2015 (originally published July 7, 2015)
Genre(s): fiction, contemporary, romance, women’s fiction
Format & Length: audiobook, 8:52:21
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From the acclaimed author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do comes a breathtaking new novel about a young woman whose fate hinges on the choice she makes after bumping into an old flame; in alternating chapters, we see two possible scenarios unfold—with stunningly different results.
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.
Maybe in Another Life has a concept that I find fascinating. Taking just one choice that the main character has to make, it explores the effects of her decision in two separate concurrent storylines. And the overall effect wound up being an enjoyable reading experience.
“You can’t change just one part, can you? When you sit there and wish things had happened differently, you can’t just wish away the bad stuff. You have to think about all the good stuff you might lose too. Better just to stay in the now and focus on what you can do better in the future.”
One of the great things Maybe in Another Life does is not only follow the two different plots of Hannah’s decision, but it also consistently speaks to the theme of choices and questions the idea of fate versus whether our choices decide our future, even touching on the quantum mechanics multiverse theory. This added significant depth and interest to an otherwise fairly straightforward contemporary story, which I personally appreciated. I also particularly loved that although there is romance in this book, it focused more on Hannah’s friendship with Gabby, developing that relationship in both storylines.
When I first borrowed this audiobook from my library, I was a tad worried how the alternating storylines would work in that format as it could easily go wrong, especially since there weren’t any chapter indicators. But the cues were there at each storyline switch to make it easy to follow. And the narration by Julia Whelan was excellent. In fact, I enjoyed her voice acting so much that I’d be interested to check out other books she’s narrated.
Overall, Maybe in Another Life was an altogether entertaining reading experience. I haven’t read anything else by this author yet but I do think readers who enjoy contemporary novels that ask bigger questions will probably like this. And I do recommend the audio!