Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid (audiobook)

In brief: Hannah is at a crossroads in her life, so she returns to L.A. and her best friend. But depending on what happens one night at a party, her life could go in two directions…

The good: Love the Sliding Doors– like narrative, plus I’m totally Team Henry.

The not-so-good: I needed to concentrate a little a first to work out which of Hannah’s lives I was in.

Why I chose it: Sounded interesting, plus I love ‘what if’ type narratives.

Year: 2015

Duration: 9 hours 8 minutes (book is 352 pages)

Narrator: Julia Whelan

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Setting: Los Angeles, USA

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

I can’t remember where I first saw Maybe in Another Life, but I’m pretty sure it was on someone’s blog. (Thank you!) I thought the cover looked interesting – it had a L.A. meets New York look but it was the premise of a Sliding Doors/alternate reality story that really sucked me in. I love those kinds of stories and to wrap it up in a romance/chick lit bundle was just perfection. I haven’t seen a Taylor Jenkins Reid book in the flesh here in Australia, but I’ll be actively seeking her out in the future. Her stories are like a good rollercoaster – you feel exhilarated at the end, even though you’ve been through some crazy things with the characters. You just want to go back and ride/read again!

The story is told in the first person by Hannah, who at first seems like a bit of a drifter. After many moves over the years and menial jobs, she’s returned home to L.A. after splitting with her (married) boyfriend. Except that L.A. isn’t really the traditional meaning of home for Hannah. It’s where her best friend Gabby is, and her parents who took Hannah in after the rest of her family moved to London. That loss of home has affected Hannah – her family always want her to visit London, never the other way around. Gabby’s family is more of the stable influence in her life and they are determined to help her find her feet again in L.A. and perhaps take roots.

Another thing Hannah left behind in L.A. was Ethan, her teenage boyfriend. At a party one night, Ethan’s there. Should she leave with him or not? If she does, it’s the start of a beautiful relationship that will get complicated as things go on. If she doesn’t, poor Hannah is about to take a huge knock to her new life. Either way, things won’t be plain sailing. One thing I loved about the two plots was that there were some things that were constant across both – Hannah’s career decision, Gabby’s personal life. While there were plenty of low moments for Hannah, with a number of big decisions to make, she bounced back, ready to take them on. Taylor Jenkins Reid certainly puts her characters through the wringer, but fortunately Hannah has the strength of character to meet each curveball and smash it out of the park.

I listened to this story as an audiobook and Julia Whelan was the main character Hannah to me. She nailed the range of emotions Hannah was experiencing and this flowed through to me as the listening. It made the story feel so personal, almost if I was part of it. While I think if you read the story it would feel emotional, having Hannah speak her pain and her joy was the ultimate. I was really emotionally invested in this story, down to the point of seriously weighing up the pros and cons of each of Hannah’s soul mates in the stories. (I STILL can’t decide which team I’m on – but I think I’d pick Team Henry because Ethan has a couple of moments where he was less than hero material. Henry had none in my opinion!).

My only criticism was that Hannah’s crack, cinnamon rolls, are not my bag. But that’s probably a good thing because there are loads of mentions and it was easy to resist temptation! Although for plot development and happily ever afters, it was better that she had a cinnamon roll addiction rather than say, an M&Ms addiction. It would have made fate a lot harder to intervene.

Maybe in Another Life is a sweet, emotional story that will sweep you away. I highly recommend it if you want a story celebrating friendship and overcoming hardships, sprinkled with love.

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