Review: Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid


Synopsis from Good Reads:

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.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Maybe in Another Life will be available July 7, 2015

I’ve read a couple of multiple universe stories before and I feel like this one was unique. While the other books I’ve read always had the “real” universe and the “other” universe I didn’t feel like this book had that. Maybe in Another Life focuses more on the possible journeys than on which path is “right”.

Hannah Martin’s life is a bit of a wreck. She is moving (again), has no job, no car, barely any money, and has just broken up with her boyfriend – who she found out was married. She moves back to Los Angeles to stay with her best friend, Gabby, and her husband. On her first night out she sees her high school boyfriend, Ethan, who she’s never really gotten over. As the night progresses she’s given the choice of taking things slow with Ethan and going home with Gabby or staying out and letting Ethan take her home. From there the chapters alternate between what would happen next in each possible “universe”.

It’s hard to discuss what happens in each scenario without revealing some major spoilers. I will say that I thought the synopsis indicated that Ethan was her soul mate no matter the universe, but the majority of one scenario includes another possible “soul mate”, Henry (I’m TOTALLY Team Henry!) There are a lot of good and bad things that happen in each scenario and each leads to similar conclusions, though some of the major players are different.

While reading, it seemed to me that one scenario was the right choice and the other was the wrong choice. Even though some big, horrible things happened in the right one, it just always felt like the best one to me. I liked the development with her family, her friends, and her love interest in one much more than the other one. Except for the last couple of chapters when I started to warm up to the other universe, as well.

I liked that there were similar things that happened in each universe. Like in one chapter there was an example of a pain scale of 1-10 and Hannah’s answer was 6. In the next chapter there was a scale of embarrassment where she answered 6. There were a couple things like that peppered throughout the story, though they were more prevalent at the beginning and the end.

While I didn’t really like Hannah very much at first, she grew on me as the story went on. I felt like her character really developed and grew throughout and finally started making smarter choices. I also really liked her best friend, Gabby. I almost felt like the idea of soul mates wasn’t necessarily about a guy, but about friendship. In each universe Hannah and Gabby are absolutely there for each other and I loved it.

Overall, I did enjoy Maybe in Another Life. I like the idea of multiple universes and I think this book handled it better than others have. One big thing that bothered me, though, is that it was not a definitive ending. I didn’t feel like there was a point where we find out which decision Hannah picked and how she ended up (though after reading some other reviews, others people felt like one ending was suggested as THE ending, but I didn’t get that). Since there was so much discussed about fate and how things happen how they’re supposed to happen, I felt that not having an obvious ending, but two possible different scenarios wasn’t very impactful and is the reason I’m giving this less than 4 stars. Still, if you enjoy multiple storylines/universes and cotemporaries, you would probably enjoy this.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

3.5 stars