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on 09 Aug 2016
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From USA TODAY bestselling author Renée Carlino (Before We Were Strangers), a warm and witty novel about a struggling writer who must come to grips with her past, present, and future after she discovers that she’s the inspiration for a pseudonymously published bestselling novel.
When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J. Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.
Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.
That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.
The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?
a href="http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Swear-on-This-Life/Renee-Carlino/9781501105791" target="_blank">Atria Books
I was provided a review copy; this did not influence my opinion of the book.
Empowering. Original. Beautiful.
Beautifully and powerfully written, Renee Carlino, captured the essence of pain and struggle and wrapped them up in one of the most original stories I’ve ever read. ‘Swear on This Life’ is a story within a story. It is a second-chance romance. It is about forgiveness, acceptance, and self-exploration.
❝But in real life we have a hard time recognizing serendipitous moments because we’re not making the story up as we go along … If you can surrender to the idea that there might be a plan, instead of reducing every magical moment to a coincidence, then love will find you. It found me.❞
Emiline is struggling as an author. Her friends, boyfriend, and mentor tell her she needs to find something to write about that’s important to her, perhaps even write about her life. But Emiline hadn’t yet dealt with her past, so writing about it was not an option.
❝I was guarded and withdrawn, hiding in my relationship with Trevor, in my job as an adjunct professor, in my writing. I knew all of this, but I wasn’t sure how to get out of the rut.❞
Her roommate comes home talking about a new author, J. Colby who just released a book that everyone is raving about, All the Roads Between. Cara becomes completely consumed with the book. Eventually, she talks Emiline into reading it. That’s when Emiline’s carefully guarded walls begin to crumble. Because the story she was reading, was the story of her life. The person who wrote it, her first love who she hasn’t seen in 12 years. And she’s angry. Angry that she hasn’t seen or heard from him in over a decade. Angry that he told her story. Angry that he’s forcing her to face those years. And she’s angry he’s going to be a few miles away receiving accolades and signing autographs for a book about her!
What’s so unique about ‘Swear on This Life’, is that we read J. Colby’s book, All the Roads Between, right along with Emiline. So we get flashbacks of her life in her small town, on that dirt road with her father, and best friend/first love, Jason. He tells about her struggles and her pain and about first love and shared dreams.
I mentioned that Swear on This Life was empowering. There were times when I laughed and times when I cried. But there were equal amounts of time when I stopped and thought about what the author was saying and absorbed her words.
❝We can’t always control our circumstances, who our parents are, where we live, or how much money we make, but in those rare moments when we can shape our fate, when we do have the power to make our own happiness, we can’t be too scared to do it.❞
The writing was exquisite, the characters were brilliantly crafted and the plot was solid. I highly recommend it. A must read for this summer!