Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Story rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Audio rating: 5 of 5 Stars
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 is one of those authors that have been recommended to me countless times so I was excited to finally start one of her books.
In truth I have confusing feelings toward alternate reality premise. On one hand I find it intriguing, on the other I didn’t like the film Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow and it somewhat ruined the whole concept for me.
Well no matter what your thoughts about alternate reality are, don’t expect any scientific explanations here. Maybe in Another Life is not Sci-Fi; it’s a contemporary through and through.
It’s not just a contemporary; it’s a character-driven book. I admit it took me awhile to get into the story because of its slow pacing. I don’t like action packed books and usually don’t mind slow books, but in this case it was too slow for me. Probably the reason is that the author doesn’t try to entertain the reader with the additional humor (like Jojo Moyes in One Plus One) or suspence (like Liane Moriarty in Big Little Lies). It’s just characters dealing with their everyday problems in Maybe in Another Life. If this is not your kind of story you should probably pass this book.
My thoughts about the audiobook:
This is my first book narrated by Julia Whelan and I’m impressed by her performance. My only little complaint I didn’t like her voice for Gabby.
I had an issue with the audiobook though.
“Hi,” he says.
“You’re here!” I say.
“You’re here!” he says.
I hug him again.
“It’s really great to see you,” he tells me. “Beautiful as ever.”
“Thank you kindly,” I say.
In written text “he said, she said” after direct speech help readers to understand who speaks. When you listen to the audiobook and the narrator has a different voice for each character this is not necessary. The narrator read “he said, she said” every single time. It drove me crazy.
This book is written in alternating chapters featuring two different Hannah’s lives. There wasn’t any heading or any other indication that narration was switched from one alternate universe to another. It was confusing and a couple of times it took me several minutes to realize that the switch was done.
On the positive side it was fascinating to witness how Hannah’s two alternate lives unfolded, how her one small decision lead her to very different paths. I expected the story would go the certain way, but Taylor Jenkins Reid surprised me with that ending. I can’t say more because of spoilers, but for me personally it was a bittersweet ending.
All in all, my first encounter with Taylor Jenkins Reid was a positive one, though if I’m totally honest I expected more. I wasn’t moved by this story the way I wanted. Well, I guess it’s the result of high expectations.