In her novel, Maybe In Another Life, acclaimed author Taylor Jenkins Reid has come up with a brilliant storyline about love, loss, victory, and hardships. The specialty of this story is that it is not a typical romance; it’s a bitter yet honest portrayal of life taking the themes love and fate into force – a story you will be talking about for days, months and years.
The story revolves around Hannah Martin, who is a twenty-nine year old with no clue as to what she wants to do with her life. Her haphazard lifestyle set her off on a string of wrong decisions; her indecisive nature had prompted her to move from city to city since college. Finally setting her foot down, she decides to move in with her best friend Gabby, back in LA, her hometown to sort out her chaotic life. After a warm reunion, Gabby takes her out to celebrate where Hannah meets her ex-boyfriend, Ethan. They were once high school sweethearts, separated by distance and circumstance. The encounter is bittersweet yet skittish as both parties have unresolved feelings and many unanswered questions. At the end of the night, Hannah is faced with two choices: go home with her best friend or go out with her ex. The author delves into the concept of parallel universes and each choice is played out in alternating chapters.
So I decide to go home with Gabby.
So I decide to stay out with Ethan.
Each outcome is different, with its’ equal share of heartbreak and triumph. Though her decision is rather insignificant at the time, it indeed turns out to be something prominent and life changing.
The story’s characterization is beautifully done. They are ordinary people with their equal share of flaws and imperfections – everyday people who make myriad of bad choices amidst the occasional good ones.
Everyone can relate to Hanna at some point in their lives: lost, directionless and hanging by a thread.
Gabby is completely opposite to Hannah as she is poised, confident and self-reliant. Her pragmatic nature helps Hannah come in term of her mistakes. Nevertheless, they are both quite alike in one aspect: head-on approach when facing problems.
Gabby – “We have to face those consequences head-on, for better or worse. We don’t get to erase them just by saying we didn’t mean to. 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…”
Their friendship is absolutely inspiring and quite extra ordinary in today’s world. Gabby can be seen as a permanent presence in Hannah’s life, because even though there were many variables throughout the story, Gabby stayed by Hannah through it all, thus Reid has done a great job to prove that even during the darkest times, a friend is all you need to survive.
When taking the love interest into consideration, Ethan’s and Hannah’s relationship is somewhat blurry and bland, considering the lack of background information. The story was rather fast- paced to include many snippets of the past, but it would have been better if it contained some in-depth details of their relationship. In the contrary, Henry was more of a solid character compared to Ethan; his character had more complexity and the affair more realistic.
Tackling some major themes: love, soul mates, friendship, the most fascinating one is the theory on fate.
Can one single decision change the course of our life?
Yes. Something to contemplate on. This story is a beautiful example which shows how one decision big or small is enough to change your life forever, as life is full of infinite choices dictating our every move; what if a slightly different decision was taken for something relatively trivial? Would it have led to a complete change in life? What if there is a version of us somewhere, in a parallel universe, living this same fate of the alternate choices? However it also portrays that some things are inevitable, will happen no matter what at some point or another.
The idea that we are powerful enough to change our fate, but some incidents will happen indefinitely is contradictory yet thought-provoking.
“I was reading about different theories about the universe. I was really taken with this one theory that states that everything that is possible happens. That means that when you flip a quarter, it doesn’t come down heads or tails. It comes up heads and tails. Every time you flip a coin and it comes up heads, you are merely in the universe where the coin came up heads. There is another version of you out there, created the second the quarter flipped, who saw it come up tails. This is happening every second of every day. The world is splitting further and further into an infinite number of parallel universes where everything that could happen is happening. This is completely plausible, by the way. It’s a legitimate interpretation of quantum mechanics. It’s entirely possible that every time we make a decision, there is a version of us out there somewhere who made a different choice. An infinite number of versions of ourselves are living out the consequences of every single possibility in our lives…”
Taylor Jenkins Reid has done an amazing job writing about emotions, relationships, fate and love – her writing style is absolutely beautiful, with witty conversations and honest characterization. The complex theory of parallel universes was greatly executed, where the reader was compelled to think and think again. Dealing about friendship, romance, loss and finding yourself is not an easy read, not for the faint-hearted.
Brace yourself for a rollercoaster of emotions: incredibly real and absolutely raw. You will not be able to put this down until you are done.