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.
“Fate or not, our lives are still the results of our choices. I’m starting to think that when we don’t own them, we don’t own ourselves.”
It pains me to do this. And when I say that I mean it because TJR is a go to author for me. Hands down, one clicking every single time no matter what. I know that when I read her books, I am going to be left feeling some sort of way. But with Maybe in Another Life, it didn’t affect me in that usual TJR way. I think if maybe I had read her books in order (of release date) I might feel differently about it but after reading all of her other fabulous books first, this one just fell super short.
Firstly, the characters. UGH. None of the characters evoked any type of feeling from me. Well, I shouldn’t say none. Only one did. I didn’t feel for Hannah, Ethan, or Henry but Gabby, she got to me. She had so much depth. And she was even a secondary character! I think that speaks a lot about the characters in this novel. When your secondary character sparks more interest from your reader than the main characters do, I think that becomes an issue.
A lot of times, in TJR’s other books, I attach to the character or even multiple ones. I pick a “team”. I find someone that I love dearly and I root for them the entire time. Even if it’s not a male. I feel like as an author, she does a great job at doing this. But I don’t understand what happened with this one. Maybe it was my book funk or maybe it was my growth in reading, but none of them captivated me or evoked any type of empathy from me.
Hannah was very dull and flighty. I didn’t like how two dimensional she was in both realities. I would have thought with two different possibilities, one of the Hannah’s would be full of growth and she would bloom into something great but it just didn’t happen. Ethan was a lump on a log. That’s how I viewed him. He left zero mark on me and sparked zero interest. I think had TJR given the reader more of their past relationship, it would have given me something to go on but really we only get a few scenes with him and they’re all redundant. They serve no real purpose to the story at hand. Henry was just…there. The author tried way too hard to force him on me and she didn’t sell it. I feel like he was just a stepping stone for Hannah because of the way he is presented to us. He helps her and then that’s it. What does he really do for her emotionally though? I never really felt anything.
“He still, all these years later, shines brighter to me than other people. Even after I got over him, I was never able to extinguish the fire completely, as if it’s a pilot light that will remain small and controlled but very much alive.”
That is a line we get about Ethan. But, we never see how that spark ignites and stay lit as pilot. We just are supposed to believe these two people have a past and still love each other. Yeah, okay sis.
I really loved the story line and alternating realities. I think that was the only thing I liked within this entire story. I thought the way TJR presented this book to us was unique in her own way. I just didn’t like how she executed it. The end was a cop out. One that could have been done a million different ways– and it just wasn’t.
Maybe in Another Life was an interesting concept, but unfortunately the characters didn’t resonate with me the same way her other books have. I didn’t hate it but I sadly didn’t love it either.
I also hope I never hear about or see another cinnamon roll again. Jesus.