Someone Else’s Love Story, by Joshilyn Jackson (2013)

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Interest Level: Adult
Someone Else's Love StoryThis novel is not for everyone – award-winning author Jackson tackles the controversial topic of date rape, and only adds to the controversy. Shandi Pierce is 21, and the mother of a three-year-old genius, the product of a date rape that didn’t go, forgive me, all the way, but still managed to connect sperm and egg. Shandi is determined to ignore the origins of her child’s birth and simply accepts him as a gift. Until the day the two of them are involved in a hostage-taking at a convenience store, which is when the book opens. The shocking events lead Shandi to seek the perpetrator of her son’s origins, and she enlists the help of geneticist William, the grieving hero of the robbery, who is apparently a high-functioning “au-tastic.” Toss in a pair of devoted wingmen for each of the two protagonists, a shifting voice (third-person for Shandi and first-person for William), and constant squabbling between Shandi’s divorced parents, a Jew and a Catholic, all set in Georgia, and you get something everyone else seems to know as Southern fiction. It is brilliantly written. The dialogue is wickedly funny at times, and the plot is wonderfully twisted. Jackson refuses to paint anyone black or white – even the date rapist is weak-willed but worthy of love and perhaps even forgiveness. That’s gotten her into a lot of trouble on the blogosphere as you can imagine. Jackson successfully develops her male characters – I adored Natty, and the first-person narrative gives us full access to the workings of William’s mind. My affection for Shandi is more complicated – she makes the oddest decisions, and is sometimes brutal in her careless treatment of others’ feelings. Her June Cleaver-inspired pursuit of William comes out of nowhere, and Jackson’s choice of a third-person voice masks what could have been a revealing internal struggle. I would have liked further exploration of the many subplots as well, and a little less of William’s flashback romances. I liked the ending with its hints of the future, but leaving that for the characters to discover without us. I’ll be looking for more of Jackson’s work, as I suspect this doesn’t quite meet her normal level of achievement.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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