Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
Published by William Morrow ISBN 978-0-06-227849-4
Hardcover, $26.99, 320 pages
The strength of Joshilyn Jackson's latest novel, Someone Else's Love Story lies in the terrific characters she creates. Right away, from the first sentence, "I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K.", you know you are in for a fantastic ride.
Shandi is a single mom of a extraordinarily intelligent four-year-old boy Natty. They are headed to Atlanta with her best friend Walcott, when they stop at the Circle K to get Natty a ginger ale to settle his upset stomach.
Shandi notices the ruggedly handsome William Ashe in the store and when the store is held up by a young gunman and William moves to protect Natty, she is completely smitten. A hostage situation occurs and William does his best to try and keep everyone safe.
When the standoff ends in an injury to William, Shandi makes it her mission to care for him. She also discovers that he is a research geneticist, and she hopes to get William to help her discover the father of her son, whom she does not know.
As Shandi and William and Natty grow closer, William's best friend Paula becomes angry. She is openly hostile to Shandi, and tells her that William will never love her. He loves his wife Bridget, whom he lost in a car accident, along with their two-year-old daughter, two years ago.
Walcott also discourages Shandi from beginning a relationship with William. Shandi doesn't understand why Walcott, her best friend since childhood, has become so distant since the robbery. He has always been there for her, through her high school pregnancy, and he loves Natty, but recently he has been AWOL.
William is very intelligent, but socially he is very awkward. As his story unfolds, we find that he is probably somewhere on the autism spectrum, perhaps closer to Aspergers Syndrome. He struggled socially as a child, and only connected with people when he was a high school football star. Paula and Bridget were the only two people who understood him.
Jackson has said that this is William's story, and in a story filled with so many interesting characters, he stands out. His wooing of Bridget, with help from Paula, is so moving and sweet. The someone else in this love story is Bridget and William.
I loved Shandi's fearlessness, her willingness to put herself out there and work to find love. She is a wonderful mom too, and her love for Natty is stronger than iron. She would do anything for her son, who is so different from other kids his age. Part of her attraction to William is that she thinks Natty might be like him- a brilliant mind, but maybe socially different.
There is big twist at the end, one that totally took me by surprise. It changes everything in the story and kudos to Jackson for not tipping her hand.
I loved this book, and felt like these characters were real people, people I would love to know. I adored the friendships, the romance, the family, the whole package. Jackson took me on a ride that I won't soon forget.
Joshilyn Jackson appeared on Book Club Girl On Air and discussed her book and you can listen to that here.
She also wrote a short story featuring Shandi, Natty and Walcott titled My Own Miraculous and you can find that here.
rating 5 of 5