Someone Else's Love Story, by Joshilyn Jackson.
I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K. It was on a Friday afternoon at the tail end of a Georgia summer so ungodly hot the air felt like it had all been boiled red. We were both staring down the barrel of an ancient, creaky .32 that could kill us just as dead as a really nice gun could.
I thought then I had landed in my own worst dream, not a love story. Love stories start with a kiss or a meet-cute, not with someone getting shot in a gas station minimart. Well, no, two people, because that lady cop took a bullet first.
What a great way to start a book, right? This novel had a major twist about 3/4 of the way through the book, too, and it completely fooled me; however, thinking back upon it, I realized there were clues sprinkled throughout the novel, one of which being the title. Regardless, this book had me captivated throughout, and it's one of the best I've read lately.
At twenty-one, Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Natty, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced Catholic mother and Jewish father. She’s got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up in a gas station mini-mart and falling in love with a great wall of a man named William Ashe, who willingly steps between the armed robber and her son.
Shandi doesn’t know that her blond god Thor has his own complications. When he looked down the barrel of that gun he believed it was destiny: It’s been one year to the day since a tragic act of physics shattered his universe. But William doesn’t define destiny the way other people do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in science and numbers, destiny to him is about choice.
Now, he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head on, in a funny, charming, and poignant novel about science and miracles, secrets and truths, faith and forgiveness,; about a virgin birth, a sacrifice, and a resurrection; about falling in love, and learning that things aren’t always what they seem—or what we hope they will be. It’s a novel about discovering what we want and ultimately finding what we need.
This is a love story, but it's not the usual type. Shandi is involved in a holdup at the Circle K, where she meets William, who she can tell has either been divorced or separated recently. After they finally escape from the scenario, she starts spending time with William, helping him with his house and other work, and his best friend Paula disapproves. Shandi's best friend, Walcott, also disapproves, although his disapproval is not quite as obvious at first.
Shandi has a 3-year-old son, Natty, and when she gave birth to him, she was a virgin; she states this fact plainly at first, and then slowly unravels the story so the reader will know what happened and how she got pregnant.
The writing here was both matter-of-fact and wry, and some parts had me laughing, even though the subject matter is serious. I haven't read any other books by the author but I hope to at some point - she's got 5+ other books in existence. The point-of-view in the book switches between Shandi's and William's, but the reader will get more insight from Shandi; William's brain just works differently than hers. It was definitely interesting to see her perception of situations and then see that same situation from William's, too.
Someone Else's Love Story will be in stores on November 19th. 4.5 stars out of 5.
[edit: apparently there's a prequel as well! It's called My Own Miraculous and is a novella, around 120 pages ... I will definitely be reading it!]
*Disclosure: I received a galley of this book from Edelweiss for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.