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Someone Else's Love Story: A Novel

Someone Else's Love Story: A Novel

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Someone Else's Love Story: A Novel

valoraciones:
4/5 (29 valoraciones)
Longitud:
405 página
6 horas
Editorial:
Publicado:
Nov 19, 2013
ISBN:
9780062105677
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

Someone Else's Love Story is beloved and highly acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson's funny, charming, and poignant novel about science and miracles, secrets and truths, faith and forgiveness; about falling in love, and learning that things aren't always what they seem—or what we hope they will be.

Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Nathan, aka Natty Bumppo, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced parents. She's got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up and falling in love with William Ashe, who willingly steps between the 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 world. But William doesn't define destiny the way others do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in facts and numbers, destiny to him is about choice. Now, he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head on, making choices that will reveal unexpected truths about love, life, and the world they think they know.

Editorial:
Publicado:
Nov 19, 2013
ISBN:
9780062105677
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

Joshilyn Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels, including gods in Alabama and The Almost Sisters. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages. A former actor, Jackson is also an award-winning audiobook narrator. She lives in Decatur, Georgia, with her husband and their two children.


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Dentro del libro

Cotizaciones principales

  • If I didn’t have the ace of almost being shot nestled sweetly in my pocket, I knew we’d be back on the road in half an hour, as soon as her lecture was done. Then tomorrow Dad would FedEx me a pony by way of apology.

  • Paula has the gist of it; it wasn’t only to fuck her. He wants to fuck her and love her and marry her, in any order she will take these things.

  • Miracle is another word for magic, and magic is only science, unexplained. The simplest explanation for her sentence is a need for antipsychotic medication.

Vista previa del libro

Someone Else's Love Story - Joshilyn Jackson

y’all.

PART ONE

Bullets

Faith is a fine invention

When Gentlemen can see—

But Microscopes are prudent

In an Emergency.

EMILY DICKINSON

Chapter 1

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 that 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.

But there we were, William gone still as a pond rock, me holding a green glass bottle of Coca-Cola and shaking so hard it was like a seizure. Both of us were caught under the black eye of that pistol. And yet, seventeen seconds later, before I so much as knew his name, I’d fallen dizzy-down in love with him.

I’ve never had an angel on my right shoulder; I was born with a pointy-tailed devil, who crept back and forth across my neck to get his whispers into both my ears. I didn’t get a fairy godmother or even a discount-talking cricket-bug to be my conscience. But someone should have told me. That afternoon in the Circle K, I deserved to know, right off, that I had landed bang in the middle of a love story. Especially since it wasn’t—it isn’t—it could never be my own.

At eleven o’clock that same morning, walking into gunfire and someone else’s love story was the last thing on my mind. I was busy dragging a duffel bag full of most of what I owned down the stairs, trying not to cry or, worse, let my happy show. My mother, never one for mixed feelings, had composed herself into the perfect picture of dejection, backlit and framed in the doorway to the kitchen.

I wanted to go, but if I met her eyes, I’d bawl like a toddler anyhow. This tidy brick bungalow on the mountainside had been my home for seventeen years now, ever since I was four and my parents split up. But if I cried, she’d cry, too, and then my sweet kid would lose his ever-loving crap. We’d all stand wailing and hugging it out in the den, and Natty and I would never get on the road. I tightened my mouth and looked over her head instead. That’s when I noticed she’d taken down the Praying Hands Jesus who’d been hanging over the sofa for as long as I’d had concrete memory. She’d replaced him with a Good Shepherd version who stopped me dead in the middle of the stairs.

The new Jesus looked exactly like her.

He was super pretty, slim and elegant. He was backlit, too, standing in front of a meadow instead of a kitchen, cradling a lamb instead of a spatula. My mother had never once gone into direct sunlight without a hat and SPF 50, and this Jesus shared her ivory-bloom complexion. I looked more Jewish than he did. They had the same rich brown hair glowing with honey-gold highlights, the same cornflower blue eyes cast sorrowfully upward to watch me struggle a fifty-pound duffel down the stairs. Neither offered to give me a hand.

Mimmy wasn’t anywhere near ready to let me go, and the thought of having to fight my way out of here made me want to flop down onto my butt and die on the staircase.

Please don’t make this awful. This is the best thing, I said, but Mimmy only stood there, radiating lovely sorrow. The pretty my mom has, it’s an unfair amount. Simply ungodly, and it worked on everyone, even me sometimes.

Maybe for you, she acknowledged. But Natty?

That scored a hit; I was trading Mimmy’s mountain full of trees and deer and sunshine for my dad’s three-bedroom condo, sleek and modern, bang in the middle of the city. But all I said was, Oh, Mims.

We’d been having this fight all week. Dad’s condo was ten minutes from the Georgia State campus, and from Mimmy’s, I drove about four hours round-trip. I had to register my classes around Atlanta’s rush hour and make sure they all met either Tuesday/Thursday or Monday/Wednesday/Friday. This was enough to make a simple coffee date an exercise in logistics, and Mimmy didn’t help my social life go easier. She’d been boycotting anything with a Y chromosome for going on seventeen years now. Even her cat was female, and she’d been known to change my shifts at her candy shop if she knew I had a date. I would’ve moved to the condo long before if my stepmother, Bethany, had ever let my father make the offer.

She hadn’t. Not until last week, when the results of Natty’s tests came back. Dad had set them up after Natty taught himself to read. The tests said my kid was rocking an IQ north of 140, which put him firmly in the genius category. My three-year-old could probably apply to freakin’ Mensa.

Bethany—Bethany herself, not Dad—called to tell me I could have the condo. This was unusual. Bethany was the heavy who told me I was getting uninvited from Passover because her entire family was coming and the dining room table only had so many leaves. A few days later, Dad would do something huge and beautiful and thoughtful for me, as if these events were wholly unconnected. But this time, Bethany had wanted to talk to me badly enough to dial Mimmy’s house phone when she missed me on my cell. A risky move. Mimmy and Bethany were matter and antimatter. Contact between them could trigger a blast that would knock the planet clean off its hinges and plummet us all right into the sun.

Luckily, I was the one who picked up. We had the briefest exchange of cool politenesses, and I waited for her to drop whatever awful bomb she’d primed this time. She cleared her throat and delivered what sounded like an overrehearsed monologue:

So! Given Nathan’s unusual intellect, David wants to help you place him at a more academically focused preschool. We understand how limited the choices are out there in the weeds.

I swear I could hear the narrow nostrils of Bethany’s long, elegant nose flaring in distaste through the phone as she said that last bit. It was a carefully worded piece of code. Last year, I’d almost killed my Jewish father by sending Natty to preschool at Mimmy’s Baptist church. Natty and I no longer attended synagogue or church, which was better than when I was a kid and had to go to both. Dad offered to pay all tuition if I moved Natty to a better school.

Surely there is more than one close preschool, he’d said.

Of course, I’d told him. If you prefer, Natty can go to the one run by the Methodists.

Now Bethany went on, It means moving to Atlanta. I know that your mother isn’t likely to see this as an opportunity. Country people can be shortsighted, especially when it comes to education. But the benefits . . . I think any decent parent could see them. She sniffed a little huff of disparaging air and finally came to the heart of it. You and Natty could stay at the condo. We’d put your own phone line in, and you could decorate the third-floor bedrooms as you please. I’m not sure your father is prepared to suffer the on-call rooms with the residents, so sometimes you’d have him napping in the master. But otherwise, you could think of it as your own place. There was a pause, and she added, pointedly, For the year. Then, in case I hadn’t gotten it, Until you graduate, I mean.

This was an amazing number of long-standing, guaranteed fight starters to pack into a single speech. Even a dig at Lumpkin County! Sure, we were rural, but not the kind of rural in Deliverance, and she damn well knew it. If she’d hoped to goad me into turning down the condo I’d been coveting—fat chance. I summoned all my inner sugar and said, hell, oh hell, oh hell-hell yes, and then I got off the phone fast as I could.

Now I dumped my heavy duffel by the front door, next to Natty’s Blue’s Clues suitcase and the stacked laundry baskets full of books and socks and toys. I went to Mimmy and looped my arms around her little waist and put my face in her hair. She smelled like vanilla.

You’re the best Mimmy in all the world. I don’t know how I would have gotten through Natty’s baby years without you. I couldn’t have, not and gone to college. But I’m twenty-one. Natty and I have to stand on our own at some point. This is a nice step.

She shook her head. You and Natty setting up house ought to be exciting. It’s a rite of passage. I ought to sew you curtains and throw a housewarming. But I don’t know how to celebrate you moving into that awful man’s place.

I let the awful man part go and only said, "I am not moving to the house house."

Bethany and Dad and my three little stepbrothers lived in a huge stucco and stone McMansion out in Sandy Springs. No way I could ever share a roof with Bethany. I called her my Step-Refrigerator to my mother and much worse things to my best friend, Walcott. She’d earned all her names, though to be fair, I’m pretty sure I’d earned whatever she privately called me.

Mimmy started to speak again, but just then we heard Walcott coming down, his long feet slapping the stairs. He had most of my hanging clothes in a fat fold he held against his chest.

Why do you have so many dresses? he asked.

Because I’m a girl, I said.

My mother eyed my things and said, A better question is, why do you dress like a forty-year-old French divorcée?

I like vintage, I said, going to unburden Walcott. It was a huge stack; I found most of my clothes at rummage sales and thrift shops, digging through mounds of acid-washed mom jeans for the one good circle skirt or perfect two-dollar wrap dress.

He waved me off with one hand, arms still clutched tight around my clothes, heading for the front door.

Mimmy said, pinchy-voiced, You can’t load hanging clothes first. They’ll get smushed and have to be re-ironed.

Walcott stopped obediently and draped my clothes over the duffel, giving me a Walcott look, wry and mock-martyred. He’d walked over yesterday from his momses’ place to help me pack, as his hundred-millionth proof of best-friendhood. Today he’d help load my car and keep Natty entertained on the drive to the condo. The condo was built in a stack of three small floors. The kitchen and living space were at ground, and Dad’s master suite took up the whole middle. Natty and I were taking the two rooms that shared a bath at the very top. Walcott, being Walcott, would carry the heaviest things up all those stairs, while we toted in pillows and Target bags full of shoes. I didn’t even have to drive him home, just drop him at his girlfriend’s place in Inman Park.

He’d been doing crap like this for me since we were both five, the outsiders at a milk-white elementary school in a so-white-it-was-practically-Wonder-Bread county. I was the only half-a-Jew for miles, and Walcott was the sperm-donated product of a pair of lesbians who left Atlanta to grow organic veggies and run a mountain bed-and-breakfast for like-minded ladies. Walcott’s momses engaged in all manner of suspicious behaviors, including Zen meditation and hydroponics. Where we lived, those words were as foreign as Rosh Hashanah or Pesach Seder, strange rites that got me extra days off school and sent me to my dad’s place in Atlanta, where I no doubt painted the doors with lamb blood and burned up doves.

Me and Walcott, we’d stood back-to-back with our swords up, together surviving the savage playgrounds; yet here was Mimmy, giving him the glare she saved for any poor, male fool who got caught by all her immaculately groomed pretty and tried to ask her out. She knew darn well that Walcott didn’t have a sex-crazed man-genda for helping me move, but every now and then, she remembered he technically belonged to the penis-having half of the human race. She’d flick that suspicious, baleful look at him. She’d done it when he was in kindergarten, even. Back then, he’d showed me his penis on a dare, and it had been an innocent pink speck, clearly incapable of plotting.

This is the last from upstairs. Let’s pack the car after we eat, Walcott said.

As long as we get on the road by two. I don’t want to unload in the dark.

I’ll dish up lunch, my mother said, wilting into acceptance. The wilt was a feint. I caught her sloe-eyed side-peek at me as she rolled away against the doorway on her shoulder and disappeared into the kitchen.

Hoo! You’re so screwed, Walcott said, grinning. To an outsider, my mother would seem to be in a state of mild, ladylike displeasure, but mainly at peace with the world and all its denizens. But Walcott and I had grown up together, in and out of each other’s houses all day long our whole lives. He could decode the state of the Once and Future Belle from her lipstick colors and the angle of the tortoiseshell combs in her hair almost as well as I could.

She’s loaded for bear. And I’m bear, I said.

I can’t help you with that. No one can. He flopped into a lanky heap of string on the wingback chair. But I could say you a poem? I’ve been working on one for you, for this exact occasion.

No, thank you, I said primly.

It’s really good, Walcott said. He cleared his throat, putting on a faux beat-poet reading voice, really boomy and pretentious. Alas! The Jew of Lumpkin County, exiled once more. Like Moses—

Poem me no poems, Walcott. I know what you use those things for. Before he got hooked up kinda serious with CeeCee, his signature move was to quote hot lines from John Donne or Shakespeare to mildly drunken girls in the Math Department.

They work, though, he said. I used to get a lot of play, for a skinny English major with a big nose.

Bah! It’s a noble nose.

It’s overnoble. It’s noble plus plus. Lucky for me, chicks dig iambic pentameter. But this poem? It’s not for seduction. It’s free verse and quite brilliant. You wander forty days and forty nights in Piedmont Park, following the smoke from a crack pipe by day and a flaming tranny hooker in the night.

You’re a goof, I said, but as always, he’d made me feel better. Stop it. I have to pacify The Mimmy. Maybe we could crawl to the kitchen with fruit? Throw a virgin into her volcano?

Now where are you and I going to find a virgin? he asked, droll.

I started for the kitchen, then paused under the painting. The new Jesus, with his salon-fresh highlights, had those kind of Uncle Sam eyes that seemed to track after me.

Walcott followed my gaze, craning his head back to look. Holy crap! Where is Praying Hands Jesus?

I shrugged. I know, right?

Shandi, that’s your mother in a beard.

Yeah. Super unnerving. I don’t expect Jesus to be that . . .

Hot, Walcott said, but he was looking toward the kitchen now, where my mom was. I scooped up one of Natty’s stuffies from the closest laundry basket and chucked it at him. He caught it, laughing. Aw, don’t throw Yellow Friend! He tucked this most important blue patchwork rabbit gently back in Natty’s things. I know she’s your mom. But come on.

I couldn’t blame him. My mother was forty-four, but she looked ten years younger, and she was nowhere near ready to recover from being beautiful. If I’d been born with a lush mouth and crazy-razor cheekbones, instead of round-faced and regulation cute, I’m not sure I’d recover, either.

Lunch, Mimmy called, and we went through to the kitchen table. Natty was there already, perched in the booster so his nose cleared the surface of the high wooden table. Most of his face was hidden by his Big Book of Bugs, but I could tell the move was worrying him. All his Matchbox police and EMS vehicles were lined up in front of his plate, and he had big chunks of three of his bravest costumes on: fireman’s yellow slicker, astronaut’s white jumpsuit, airplane pilot’s hat.

Goodness, Captain Space Fireman, have you seen my kid?

Natty said, I am me.

Walcott said, Weird. How did a Pilot Space Fireman turn into a Natty Bumppo?

My tiny literalist lowered the thick volume to give Walcott a grave stare. These are costumes, Walcott. I was me the whole time.

I took the seat by him and said, Oh good, because you are my favorite.

Walcott sat down across from me.

Mimmy made cobbler, Natty told me in his solemn Natty voice.

I nodded, taking it very seriously. Excellent.

Mimmy says I must eat peas, Natty said next, same tone, but I could tell he believed this to be an injustice.

Mimmy is very right, I said.

All our plates were filled and sitting centered on the tatted lace mats. My mother took her place at the head of the table, and we all bowed our heads.

Looking down at my plate while my mother had a cozy premeal chat with Jesus, I realized I’d clocked her mood wrong. She wasn’t sad or wrecked. She’d made chicken-fried steak and mashed potatoes and peas and fresh biscuits, then swamped the plate in her velvety-fat gravy.

She only cooked for me like this when she was furious. She thought the meanest thing you could do to a woman was to give her a fudge basket; she lived on green salad and broiled chicken, and Mimmy would have still fit into her wedding dress if she hadn’t set it on fire in the middle of the living room when I was Natty’s age. Then she packed me up and moved back here, where she’d grown up.

My angry mother prayed a litany of thanks for food and health and family and put in a word for the Bulldogs approaching fall season. She didn’t go off-book, didn’t exhort the Lord to bring her wayward daughter to a better understanding of His will. In the past, God’s will had so often matched up exactly with my mother’s that she found it worth mentioning. But she closed after the football with a sweet Amen, and I upgraded her from merely furious to livid.

Natty amen-ed and then started zooming one of his cop cars back and forth. Walcott dug in, moaning with pleasure at the first bite. He’d eat everything on his plate and then probably finish mine, and I had no idea where it would go. He was six feet tall and built like a Twizzler.

Eat up, baby, I told Natty.

I will. I have to consider the peas, he said, and I grinned at his little-old-man vocabulary.

My mother had served herself a big old portion as well, and she whacked off a huge bite of fried meat and swabbed it through the potatoes, then put the whole thing directly into her mouth. My eyes widened. I think the last time my mother ate a starch was three years back, when Dad paid my tuition at GSU in full.

I always knew he would, but Mimmy worried he’d cut me off once court-ordered child support for me ended. I wasn’t eligible for most scholarships, even though I’d been an honor student in high school. I’d spent my senior year at home, baking Natty and studying for the GED. When Dad’s check came, she’d gone to the ancient box of Girl Scout Thin Mints in the freezer and had two, which was for her a caloric orgy. She’d purchased those cookies at least four years ago, and she hadn’t so much as worked her way into the second sleeve.

Now she sat quiet, chewing what had to be the best bite to enter her mouth this decade, but it was like she wasn’t even tasting it. She tried to swallow, then stopped. Her face changed and cracked, like she’d been told she was eating the thigh meat of her dearest friend. She spat the wad into a napkin and stood abruptly, chair scraping against the old hardwood floor.

Natty kept right on zooming his cop car across the tabletop, but I saw his eyes cut after her as she hurried from the room.

Mimmy is fine, I said to him.

Mimmy is fine, Natty repeated, zooming his car back and forth to a mournful inner rhythm. It’s only because we are going far away for all eternity.

I was already getting up to go talk to my mother, but I paused. Natty! We aren’t going far, and we can visit anytime we like.

Natty said, Not far, we can visit, with absolutely no conviction.

It’s going to be fun, living in Atlanta. We’ll get to hang with Walcott tons once school starts, and you can go to preschool and make nice friends. I met Walcott’s eyes across the table, because he knew all my reasons for moving. Up where we lived, everyone knew about Natty’s geniushood, probably mere seconds after I did. It had reopened all the worm-can speculation about who Natty’s dad might be. Natty, who picked up on so much more than your average three-year-old, was starting to ask questions. Up until this year, his baby understanding of biology had allowed me to tell him the simplest truth: He didn’t have one.

How do you explain to a preschooler, even one as bright as Natty, that his mother was a virgin until a solid year after he was born? A virgin in every sense, because when I finally did have sex, I learned my hymen had survived the C-section. How could I tell my son that his existence was the only miracle I’d ever believed in?

If neighbors or acquaintances were pushy enough to ask, I told them the dad was None O’YourBeeswax, that randy Irish fellow who had fathered a host of babies all across the country. But I owed Natty more than that. Maybe a good made-up story? Something about star-crossed true love, probably war, a convenient death. I hadn’t made it up yet, mostly because I didn’t want to lie to him. And yet the truth was so impossible.

Telling the truth also meant that I’d have to explain how sex worked normally, while Natty was still quite happy with A daddy gives a sperm and a mommy gives an egg, and bingo-bango-bongo, it makes a baby. He wasn’t interested in exactly how the sperm and egg would meet. Much less how they might meet inside a girl before she’d ever once gone past second base.

But Natty had an entirely different question for me. Is Mimmy going to die?

No! I said. Where did you get that idea?

I heard her tell the phone that she would die, just die, just die when we are gone, Natty said. I could hear my mother’s inflections coming out of him on the die, just die, just die parts.

Mimmy will outlive us all, I said and added sotto voce to Walcott, If I don’t kill her.

Walcott made a smile for Natty and said, Yup. Mimmy will outlive every single one of us and look hot at our funerals.

We’ll come back and visit Mimmy lots, and she won’t die, I said, shooting Walcott a quelling look. Let me go get her, and she can tell you herself.

I left Natty with Walcott, who, saint that he was, was asking if Natty would like to hear a dramatic recitation of a poem called Jabberwocky.

I went back to my mother’s amber-rose confection of a bedroom. I’d done it as part of my portfolio to get in GSU’s competitive interior design program. It was ultrafeminine without being fluffy, and the faint blush of pink in the eggshell walls suited her coloring. She sat in it like a jewel in its proper setting, but just now, she was in a mood much too heavy for the delicate curtains.

Not cool, Mims, I said. Not cool at all. You need to rein it in.

I had more to say, but as she turned to me, her mouth crumpled up and fat tears began falling out of her eyes. She lunged at me and hugged me. I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry!

I patted at her, thoroughly disarmed, and said, Momma . . . My own name for her, now mostly replaced by Natty’s.

That was completely out of line, in front of Nathan. Completely. She spoke in a vehement whisper, tears splashing down. I’m an awful thing. Just slimy with pure awful, but, oh, Shandi, I can hardly bear it. He’ll forget his Mimmy and be all cozied up and close with that man, that man, that dreadful man! Worse, he’ll forget who he is!

I breathed through the dig at Dad and said, He won’t. I won’t let him.

We sank down to sit together on the bed, her hands still clutching my arms. She firmed her chin at me bravely.

I want you to put something in the condo, Shandi, She waved one hand past me. I glanced over my shoulder and saw her favorite picture, from last summer at Myrtle Beach. It showed Mimmy hand in hand with two-year-old Natty, the ocean swirling up around their ankles. She’d blown it up to a nine-by-fourteen, framed it, and hung it in her room. Now it was perched on her bedside table, leaning against the wall. "I want him to remember me. More than that. I want Nathan to never, never forget for a second who he is."

Okay, I said, though I wasn’t sure how Dad would feel about me hanging a big-ass picture of his ex-wife rocking a red bikini. I was positive how Bethany would feel. I can probably do that.

No. No ‘probably.’ Say you will, my mother said.

I sighed, but Natty had never spent more than a weekend away from Mimmy. He might need the picture. I could hang it in Natty’s room so Dad wouldn’t have to look at it. And Bethany never came south of the rich people’s mall in Buckhead. If she did drop by for some unfathomable reason, I could stuff it under the bed.

Fine. I’ll hang it.

Mimmy shook her head, fierce. I need you to swear. Swear by something you hold absolutely holy that you will hang that at the condo, no matter what. Her fingers dug into my arms.

I thought for a second. I’d grown up between religions, at the center of a culture war, each side snipping away at the other’s icons until I was numb to much of it. There were not many things I held as holy.

Finally, I said, I swear on the grave of my good dog Boscoe, and all the parts of Walcott, and—I won’t swear anything on Natty proper, but I could maybe swear this on his eyelashes. Those are the holiest things I know.

My mother smiled, instantly glorious, her big eyes shiny from the tears and her nose unswollen. She even cried pretty.

Good, she said. Good.

She stood and dusted her hands off and stretched, then walked past me to the bedside table. I pivoted to watch, but she didn’t pick up the beach picture. Instead, she reached past it, to a much larger rectangle, wrapped and ready to go in brown butcher paper. It was behind the table, but it was tall enough to have been visible.

I already wrapped Him up.

I knew what the package was, of course, by size and shape. The Myrtle Beach pic had been a decoy, with the real picture she wanted hung at Dad’s place hiding in plain sight behind it. And she wasn’t angry at all; I should have known that when she didn’t swallow the bite, but I’d missed it. Damn, she was good, and in her arms she cradled Praying Hands Jesus, the Jesus who had hung over my mother’s sofa for as long as I could remember. Man, oh man, had I been played.

My mother dashed her last tears away and added, smiling, I also pulled down this picture of me and Natty. He asked if he could take it.

With that she picked both up and left the room, practically skipping as she went to add the weight of Jesus and herself to the pile of things that I was taking to my father’s house.

After lunch, Mimmy had to get to work. She owned the Olde Timey Fudge Shoppe in a nearby mountain village that was surrounded by rent-a-cabins and vacation homes. The village had a picturesque downtown with an independent bookstore, some antique marts, local wine-tasting rooms, and half a dozen Southern-themed restaurants. She drifted, mournful, to her car, looking prettier in the sherbet-colored sash-dress uniform than all the little high school and college girls who worked for her. I’d been one of them myself, until last week.

After a hundred hugs from Natty and a thousand promises from me to visit soon, she drove off to hand-dip the chocolates she would never sample. Walcott and I finished loading and got on the road.

Less than two hours’ worth of kudzu-soaked rural highway separated us from the city condo, even with the detour to bounce by Bethany’s Stately Manor to pick up the keys. Still, it wasn’t like The Fridge was going to invite us in for kosher crumpets and a heart-to-heart. I figured I’d be unloaded and moved before sunset. When everything you own will go into a VW Beetle, along with your three-year-old and your best friend hanging his bare feet out the side window, how long can moving take?

We drove along singing, then I told tall tales for a bit. Natty loved Paul Bunyan and Babe the Big Blue Ox, and I had learned the art of packing these tales with filthy double entendres for Walcott. When that got old, Walcott recited poetry, until he got to Emily Dickinson and started freaking Natty right the hell out, what with the corpses hearing the flies buzzing and capital D Death himself pulling up in a carriage. So we canned it, and Walcott plugged his iPod into my port and blasted his Natty playlist, heavy on the They Might Be Giants, as my car ate the miles. We were listening to Mammal when I noticed that the kind of quiet that Natty was being had changed.

You okay, baby? I called, glancing in the rearview. His skin looked like milk that was just going off.

Yes, he said. But he added, My throat feels tickle-y.

I shot Walcott a panicky glance. We both knew tickle-y throated was Natty-speak for thirty seconds from puking. We were in the last few miles of kudzu and wilderness. In another ten minutes, the exits would change from having a single ancient Shell station into fast-food meccas. A few exits after that, we’d be able to find a Starbucks, and then we’d officially be in the wealthy North Atlanta suburbs.

But for now, there was no safe direction I could aim him. Most of his toys were piled high in a laundry basket under his feet, and the thought of cleaning puke out of the crevices of that many Star Wars action figures and Matchbox cars gave me a wave of sympathy nausea. The passenger seat beside him was full of our hanging clothes. Walcott began searching frantically for a bag, and I rolled down every window and hit the gas. A better mother would have realized this move would be spooky for Natty; he got motion sick if he was worried.

An exit appeared, mercifully, magically close, and I yelled, Hold on, baby! as we sailed down the ramp. It ended in a two-lane road with a defunct Hardee’s with boarded-up windows on one side and a Circle K on the other. I swung into the Hardee’s parking lot and stopped. Walcott wedged his top body between the front seats and unbuckled Natty, while I popped my door open and leapt out so I could shove the driver’s side seat forward. Natty leaned out and released his lunch, mercifully, onto the blacktop.

Oh, good job, Natty, Walcott crowed, patting his back while I dug in my purse for some wet wipes. Bingo! Bull’s-eye!

When Natty stopped heaving, I passed the wipes to Walcott and said, "Everyone

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  • (5/5)
    Jackson is one of my favorite authors because her writing style is beautiful, and her stories are always twisted Southern gothic tales that suck you in from the beginning. Her latest is no different: Shandi is being held at gunpoint when she falls in love with a handsome stranger who helps protect her son. As the story goes on, there are many revelations about Shandi and William's backstory that will keep surprising you.
  • (5/5)
    Single mother Shandi is deeply, lovingly devoted to her brilliant three year old son, so when the handsome William steps between her son and an armed robber, she immediately loves him too. Unfortunately for Shandi, William is still barely recovering from a devastating tragedy in his life and he has some secrets of his own. Their interaction will help both of them find out what they want and what they need as their lives shift around them.

    This the third book I’ve read for the SheReads book club and the third one of those books I’ve given five stars, so if you’re looking for some good women’s fiction, I would consider these ladies an expert source of recommendations. Like many books I’ve fallen completely in love with, I have very few notes on why I liked it, because I was so deeply absorbed in reading. However, one thing clearly stands out to me as the most amazing part of this book: the characters. The characters were so believable, so unique, so real. Every character had their own history and their own quirks. The author somehow managed to write dialogue and narration that sounded completely natural but which were also examples of extremely beautiful writing.

    The plot for me was almost indistinguishable from the characters because it followed directly from how these characters would act. At times I felt as though the author had simply created these characters and set them going, with the plot coming organically from the actions each character would naturally take. William was one of my favorite male characters ever. People with a truly scientific mindset are so infrequently featured as the heros of a book and that paired with his empathy for others made me fall just as in love with him as Shandi. The ending was a complete surprise but not in an unbelievable way and I loved it too. This whole book was a beautiful, hopeful, emotional ride and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

    This review first published on Doing Dewey.
  • (3/5)
    I received this book from SheReads in exchange for a fair and honest review.Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson was exactly that: Shandi is placed into someone else’s love story. After surviving a robbery at a gas station, 21-year-old mother Shandi falls in love with William. But William’s story is a little bit more complicated, as he lost his child and wife due to a tragic accident.Someone Else’s Love Story is not even close to being the kind of book I would normally pick up. But for a book that centers on a “love” story, it worked for me. While the book did of course have a sappy, happy ending, it also had some bumps in the road and some heartbreak.To see the entire review, visit Love at First Book
  • (5/5)
    Joshilyn Jackson just keeps getting better. This latest novel certainly exceeds the "southern fiction" genre label of her previous offerings "Gods in Alabama" and "BackSeat Saints". It's much more than just a chick-lit romance; it has a hint of mystery, and an assortment of men and women and relationships. As the title indicates, it's truly a story of relationships. The resolution of who is in love with whom and who will end up together is handled so beautifully that the reader doesn't even realize that these permutations of relationships exist until well into the story. As I read, I actually found I couldn't decide who should win the fair maiden's hand.It's told as almost a series of small individual stories. The main character Shandi tells us her (almost) unbelievable story from the beginning in the first person. The story opens: "I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint in a Circle K." Then other characters' stories begin to emerge in the words of a neutral narrator. In addition to a love story, or several love stories, it is a story of friendship, of parenthood, and a tale of betrayal and forgiveness. There are plot lines about date rape, genetic research, and the power of suggestion. This one is not going to be available until later this fall, but it would be a wonderful holiday gift for readers of southern stories, romance and good literary fiction. Put it on your list. It's going to be a winner.
  • (4/5)
    3.5 starsShandi was drugged and almost raped a few years ago and now has a little boy, Natty. William lost his wife and little girl in a car crash exactly one year before he and Shandi are in a convenience store that is held up by Stevie. William takes a bullet to protect Natty and Shandi is head over heels! I listened to the audio and the narrator was the author. She did a fine job, though I wasn’t crazy about some of the male voices, which were a bit stilted (though that could also have reflected personalities). Some of the story was told looking back, and some continuing on from the hold up. I really didn’t like William, though, nor was I interested in his and/or Bridget’s story. I found Shandi’s story much more interesting (once it got going, after the hold up).
  • (4/5)
    I enjoy Joshiyn Jackson's novels. She writes with a lot of emotion and has a way of making you feel as though you are experiencing what is happening. This novel has so much depth and I found I was interested in her wonderful characters. Single mom, Shandi, her genius 3-year-old son, Natty, and William, the story's hero, are the main, well-developed characters. I didn't know much about the interesting plot and I think that's one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much. It is never predictable!!There are light, funny, moments and some very intense, dark times which make the novel so readable. The author knows how to skillfully construct her novels and make them into page-turners.
  • (3/5)
    Joshilyn Jackson's books are snart, funny and have a great deal of heart . The characters in this book are riveting. Shandi is a young single Mom raising a 3 year old genius son. This story is about 2 broken peop;e who learn to move beyond the pain that has shaped their lives.
  • (5/5)
    Receiving an advance reader's edition to do a review of "someone else's love story" by Joshilyn Jackson, I was sad to learn it won't be available to the public until December, 2013, but what a wonderful Christmas gift this will make to all of the readers on your list.,"I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint in a Circle K," is the beginning sentence of this emotionally powerful novel. At no point do you want to stop reading, as you also will fall in love with the characters, Natty, his mom Shandi and of course, William.Date rape enters the plot line, and is a part of the evolving story, but the author does not dwell on this; it is simply a way to bring William into the plot thread. Aggressive best friends and a complicated family life also are a part of the thread but I won't give any more away. Buy the book and enjoy this funny, charming and poignant book about genetic research, forgiveness and faith and eventually accepting what life gives us. This is not a book about revenge but about how to move on past a damaged past.
  • (3/5)
    Entirely likable story. I was interested enough to keep reading. Most of it was quite predictable, but nonetheless readable.
  • (5/5)
    Someone Else's Love Story is a quirky but touching story about a man and a woman who are thrown together as hostages in a convenience store robbery. Shandi is a young single mother of a precocious three year old. William is a young man mourning the loss of his wife and child in a car accident a year ago. Shandi is immediately smitten with William, and you wonder if they will end up together, but it is Someone Else's Love Story.This book touches on a lot of issues: religion, date rape, autism, giftedness, grief, denial and so much more. The characters are wonderfully flawed, wonderfully blessed, and very quirky. It's a very rich story, but told in a modern casual "voice" that belies the depth of sentiment. Could not put it down.Disclosure: I received a pre-release version of this book in exchange for an honest review.
  • (5/5)
    I honestly was not expecting to enjoy Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson, so I put off reading it and that was a mistake. Someone Else's Love Story is a brilliant work of literature and I loved every moment I was reading it. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
  • (3/5)
    For about three quarters of this book, I really didn't understand what was happening. Who's love story WAS this?! Shandi thinks she loves Will, Will loves his dead wife, Walcott loves Shandi, and Paula loves the idea of Will & Bridget? The last couple of chapters made everything that was confusing incredibly clear, but it would have been nice to have some of it cleared up before the very end.
  • (5/5)
    Have you ever read a book and felt like it was unfolding so perfectly, so exquisitely, that the only thing you can compare it to is watching a rose as its pedals unfurl to greet the sun? Sounds pretty cheesy, doesn't it? And yet - it's so perfect for Someone Else's Love Story. The first chapter of this book was so perfectly paced it made my toes curl with complete love. The descriptions were so exquisitely painful and pleasurable all at once that my teeth ached. I wanted to sink into the pages of Jackson's story and not emerge again until all was revealed and life was returned to its mundane self.Read the rest of this review at The Lost Entwife.
  • (5/5)
    Shandi Pierce is no stranger to miracles—she was still a virgin when she had her son, Natty, and he in the flesh is an everyday blessing—and so when, in an extraordinary turn of the cosmic screw during her move to Atlanta, she's held at gunpoint in a Circle K, she sees no other option than to consider her fateful meeting with William Ashe just that: a miracle. This is the moment that changes everything for her; it is the moment she decides she will no longer pretend that beautiful Natty's conception was a miracle—immaculate and tidy—and unbeknownst to her yet, it is the moment she embarks on the poignant quest to finally face up to reality.Joshilyn Jackson's newest novel is a quirky, surprisingly tender journey that tests the boundaries of personal strengths, as well as weaves a glittering story about destiny or—as pushed by science and numbers—lack thereof.The story consists of an exchange between two distinct narratives: Shandi's vivid, smart, and smart-assed first-person voice intertwined with Will's blunted, methodical, and seemingly objective point-of-view. The unique timeline—primarily placed in the present, but with flashes of significant events revealed during opportune moments—allows readers to become intimate with both characters who are similar in that they are both cynically hopeful, loved, and lonely, but diverge because they are ultimately fighting their own inner battles—battles they expose to one another, but cannot expect the other to completely understand. This is, by any measure, a love story—multiple love stories—but it is not their love story, because their stories are established before they even get the chance to meet.There's nothing that wasn't well done in this novel. The story is intriguing and immersed me completely; the style is at once unusual, observant, and accurate; and the characters are lively, unforgettable.Shandi is a new favorite female protagonist of mine; she's all of cute, hilarious, mature but still playful, and kickass, and I loved getting to know her in mind and in heart. She totes her delightful genius son Natty—who is obsessed with insect abdomens and has the grammatical capacity of a 40-year-old English professor—and her best friend Walcott-the-poet—whom she's been overly dependent upon since childhood—to Atlanta and as her closest family, these two will absolutely make you melt. Will is a character who doesn't reveal much about himself, but is complex in his own way, and I loved how he is portrayed too.When the two meet, it's an act of fate—of destiny—and it happens like a collision. Suddenly, Shandi is propelled to search for the truth about Natty's conception, while on the other end of the spectrum, Will learns, through Shandi's own frantic fixation, what faith is and what miracles are—things he never allowed himself to believe in previously, when his world was all science and coincidence. Shandi inadvertently shows Will that hope, that thing with feathers, will find a way to piece his broken life back together... and while the two fragmented souls use one another complete themselves, there is solace—and emptiness—in knowing they do not complete each other.I can't say much more without giving the important plot points away, but I will end with this: Someone Else's Love Story is brilliant. It is complicated, inspiring, and transfixing, and I don't know how Jackson pulled it off, but it so perfectly embodies the pain of sacrifice—the giving up and giving in for love—as well as the importance of family, faith, and the true definition of being holy. The unorthodox style and the god-honest narration will have you chortling with glee, while the ironic, nearly sacrilegious parallels will stun you emotionally. You have got to read this book.Pros: Amazing storytelling // Fresh, intelligent, witty voice // Elaborate, enjoyable style // LOVED Shandi // LOVED Will // Loved all the other characters // Huge plot twist that throws everything off cue // A nontraditional love storyCons: The novel as a whole neglects the more pragmatic aspects of Shandi's life, such as school and work // Unresolved issues by the endVerdict: With incredible attention to detail and penetrating insight of the human syndrome, Someone Else's Love Story is an unconventional love story with a memorable, dazzlingly human cast of characters, and enough personality to make you want to become the author's best best friend. Joshilyn Jackson presents the best and the brightest of deep, soulful, sassy Southern literary fiction with her newest novel; Shandi's rightful investigation and Will's slow resurrection cross paths in an exquisite, charming story about chance, love, faith, and most of important of them all, hope.Rating: 9 out of 10 hearts (5 stars): Loved it! This book has a spot on my favorites shelf.Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Harper Collins and TLC!).
  • (4/5)
    A sweet story about two broken people who meet through a convenience store robbery and end up fixing each other in an unexpected way. This was my first Joshilyn Jackson book and after reading this I will be on the lookout for some of her other titles. This was the kind of quick, feel good read that you can mindlessly enjoy while being removed from life for awhile.
  • (4/5)
    Ever since reading "Between, Georgia", one of my favorite books of the last decade, I have not passed up a Joshilyn Jackson book when I've come across one. I have yet to be disappointed, although none so far have moved me quite to the degree of that particular book. Her books are smart and funny, with a great deal of heart, a deft feel for dialogue, and a Southern flavor that arises honestly from her roots.Shandi Pierce is a young single mom, in denial about the act of violation that resulted in her virgin pregnancy, raising a three-year-old genius son and caught in an ongoing war between her Christian mother and Jewish father. When she decides to change her life by moving in with her father and his harridan wife and going to school and enrolling Natty in a fine school, they are caught enroute in a gas station robbery that changes her world when a fellow hostage, a troubled Norse god (figuratively) named William Ashe steps between Natty and a gun. William has been struck by the first anniversary of the loss of his wife and 2-year-old daughter. When Shandi learns that he is a brilliant geneticist, she asks him to help her discover the identity of her unknown attacker who is Natty's father. This leads to a conclusion in which two broken people learn to move beyond the pain that has shaped their world. This is a fine and moving story that almost measures up to "Between, Georgia", which is high praise indeed.
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    Someone Else's Love Story is a tale of faith, love and tragedy. A tragedy can bring forth upon one's mind a mechanism to mask which truly happened during said tragedy.Two strangers met while being held hostage in a Circle K store and one falls in love with the other because he was brave enough to save her son. Shandi's son Natty is her entire life and truly believes that is was a virginal birth...or does she.Her knight in shining armour is Dr. William Ashe, a brillant research scientist who looks like a football linebacker. William is also extremely handsome but never considered his body or his looks to be the essence of his life. He may be border line Autisic and his social skills did not match the persona which he puts out to the world. He does safe the day by throwing a paperweight into the head of the robber knocking him into a coma. Unfortunately William is accidentally shot by the robber's gun.Shandi, the single mother, deems it her duty to care for William when he is sent home from the hospital. The story of the hold-up was broadcasted and Shandi discovered that it was a year ago that day in which William lost his wife and child in a car accident. She finds herself slowly falling more in love with him.This is the fourth novel which I have read of Joshelyn Jackson and is my favorite; it is an endearing story.
  • (5/5)
    Ms. Jackson is the queen of Southern fiction. However, Someone Else’s Love Story veers away from the more specifically Southern elements. While the action occurs in the heart of Dixie, Shandi and William are universal characters. Nothing about them or that happens to them is unique to their location. Rather, the story just happens to unfold in Georgia but could just as easily have occurred anywhere else around the country. What happens to them could have happened to a family member, a friend, or a neighbor. This generic quality only serves to make Shandi and William that much more enjoyable and sympathetic because no longer are they strictly a product of their environment.As for what happens to them, Ms. Jackson finds multiple ways to rip out a reader’s heart and stomp it to pieces. Just when one begins to recover and hope for a happy resolution, she rips it out and steps on it again and yet again. While a reader may be an emotional mess because of all the drama, both Shandi and William show a strength and fortitude that is breathtaking in its focus and simplicity. One can only marvel at the way they both move forward out of the depths of tragedy, taking those elements of life they most desperately want and shrugging off the rest. Their individual quirks will make a reader fall in love with them; their determination will make readers bow to their grace under pressure and superior humanness.To share any more about the novel would be to spoil a simply beautiful story about love and forgiveness, dreams and reality, and the battles that ensue to obtain it all. Ms. Jackson brings her trademark wit to soften some of the harsher edges of her story, while she outdoes herself in the creation of an entire cast of extremely realistic and vibrant characters. All of them are thoroughly enjoyable and feel like long-lost friends rather than words on a page. With her cast in place, Ms. Jackson draws a reader into her world from the stellar opening sentence and does not let go. Long after finishing the novel, readers will still be thinking about Shandi and William and their search for happiness and love.Someone Else’s Love Story is written perfection. It has all the tragedy, love, and humor as one would expect from Ms. Jackson. What sets this novel apart from her previous ones is her characters. Shandi is so tough and yet so fragile, while William earns his own place in a reader’s heart with his unique approach to life. Beautifully scripted, Ms. Jackson’s newest novel takes readers on an emotional roller coaster and leaves them with that wonderful, much-sought reader’s high.
  • (4/5)
    The basics: Shandi Pierce, a twenty-one-year-old college student raising three-year-old genius Natty, meets William Ashe, a man devastated by the loss of his wife and daughter, when they're both in a Circle K when it's robbed. This strong, shared connection lingers as they navigateMy thoughts: I've heard so many of you singing the praises of Joshilyn Jackson for years, so I was excited the SheReads Book Club finally forced me to read one of her novels. I picked it up knowing nothing about it, and I particularly appreciated the novels surprises because they were unexpected. Shandi and William take turns narrating the story, and I enjoyed seeing their shared experiences through both of their eyes. Initially, the pace felt slow. I longed for the first part, when they're held hostage in the Circle K, to end. I could sense the entire novel wouldn't take place in the Circle K, and I wanted to know what would happen to all of them after the robbery. Admittedly, I enjoyed the novel more once the after became the present. Each time I started to lose faith in the story, Jackson pulled me back in with a surprising twist that explained away my hesitations. While I didn't know what to expect when I started Someone Else's Love Story, my expectations kept changing as I read and the story moved in surprising directions.The verdict: Someone Else's Love Story is a novel filled with humor, grace, friendship, and love. It's also a novel with quite a few unexpected turns. These turns kept me turning the pages and celebrating the delicate humanity of the characters.
  • (4/5)
    Do you believe in love at first sight? Falling head over heels before you've ever even met a person? How can you know a person's heart when you've never even met them? In Joshilyn Jackson's newest novel Someone Else's Love Story, young single mother Shandi Pierce is pretty sure she fell in love with William Ashe without even knowing his name. When he chose to step in front of her three year old son to protect him from a guy robbing a convenience store, protecting the child from the possibility of being shot, she fell for him and fell hard. But what does she really know about him and what does she really know about her own heart, for that matter? Shandi grew up pulled between her Christian mother and her Jewish father. They divorced very acrimoniously when she was young and she has spent her entire life trying not to choose one of them over the other, not one parent, not one religion, not one anything. She lives with her mother, who has no use at all for men after her debacle of a marriage. But Shandi is not so sheltered from the male of the species, turning up pregnant her senior year in high school despite still being a virgin, as certified by a doctor. Her baby, Nathan, aka Natty Bumppo, is a boy. Even her long time best friend, Walcott is a boy. And now Shandi's moving out and into a condo in Atlanta offered up by her father and her ice-queen of a stepmother so that Natty, who is a genius, can attend a better preschool than is available to him in the mountains, and so she is closer to school as she works towards her degree. But moving isn't the only big change in her life, it precipitates massive change on all fronts, starting with being held up at the gas station on the way to the condo. While Shandi sees William as her savior, a beautiful older man willing to sacrifice himself for her child, William sees his actions in an entirely different light. Only partially hearing the news report on the hold-up, Shandi learns that the robbery is the one year anniversary of a terrible accident that shattered William's life. Knowing he is without family, she swoops in to care for him, determined to make him fall in love with her despite the instant antagonism she feels toward his glamorous best friend Paula, the woman who has seen William desperately in love with his wife Bridget and daughter Twyla, and who is intent on telling Shandi that his kindness and caring towards her is not love. But in addition to making him fall in love with her, Shandi also wants his help in locating Natty's father. William Ashe is clearly a brilliant man who also happens to be a geneticist and could in fact solve the mystery of Natty's father. William Ashe is also somewhere on the autism spectrum. And that last fact explains better how he saw what happened in that gas station. Yes, he was protecting Natty, but he also figured that he was staring down a date with destiny in the form of a gun barrel. He was fully prepared and willing to die, not for Shandi or her son, but because it was a choice he wanted to make, an option he would have embraced. It takes a long time for Shandi to come to understand William and who he really is in truth, not just as the blond god Thor of her imagining. But it takes an equally long time for her to understand herself as well. Why does she want to find Natty's father and punish him? Why is she so determined to find love with William? The miracle here isn't that Shandi has had a virgin birth, it is that she ultimately makes the sacrifice that will lead all of the characters in the novel to the right ending, to the love stories in which each of them belong, that she and sweet, giving William, find a way to make their own miracles. Jackson has written beautiful, emotionally damaged characters in Shandi and William. Secondary characters Walcott and Paula are amazing too, devoted and protective. The plot here is not the one a reader might expect of a love story but it is so carefully and lovingly written that by the end, it is the only narrative imaginable. Your heart will weep for William and you will sympathize with Shandi and you will spend a lot of time rooting for them to find happiness. The novel beautifully shows the possibilities that bloom even in the ashes of a tragedy. It is a delightful and heartwarming read.
  • (5/5)
    This beautiful novel drew me in from the first page and held me to the last. It is definitely a complicated love story, but the love is sincere and often heartbreaking.Shandi is a single mother of precocious, bright three year old Natty. She has convinced herself that Natty was a miraculous virgin birth. She cannot face the reality of this being the result of a party she cannot remember. She also refuses to see Natty as a mistake. She is a wonderful mother, fully devoted to Natty.William is a brilliant research scientist, he is a genius. However, he has Asperger’s. He is struggling with emotions and life. He is also trying to deal with the car accident that resulted in the loss of his wife and young daughter.Shandi and William’s worlds collide at a convenience store where a robbery takes place. Shandi, Natty and William are taken hostage along with several others. William becomes the hero, first sheltering Natty and then taking control of the hostage situation. Shandi immediately feels drawn to William, as does Natty. A deep bond forms between the three of them.As their relationship grows, they find out more about each other and their pasts. They inevitably learn more about themselves, as well. There are many twists, turns, and surprises in this book.Joshilyn Jackson has a way with portraying characters that you care about, in difficult situations. This is a sweet, touching novel filled with people who ultimately seek not only to be loved, but to love others, too.
  • (3/5)
    This new book by Ms Jackson is a very good one. The characters are all engaging and the story they tell will keep you reading. There are many love stories in this book and not just the obvious ones. I liked the last book I read A Grown-Up kind of Pretty by this author better than this book. Southern writing, setting and characters.
  • (3/5)
    Shandi Pierce is the young mother (very young - she's 21) of 3 year old Natty. How he came to be is unexplained for a good portion of the book other than Shandi was still technically a virgin when she gave birth to him. Her best friend, Walcott has been with her since they were both children and he has helped her through all of her struggles; including her parents divorce and continuing war over "possession" of Shandi and Natty. Shandi is going to college so to lessen her commute she is packing up and moving to a condo her father owns much to her mother's sorrow (rage?) On the way Natty gets car sick so they stop to get some ginger ale and Shandi and Natty get caught in a robbery by a drugged out maniac. There she meets and claims to fall in love with William who is still mourning at the one year anniversary of a very tragic car accident involving his wife and daughter. William puts himself between the gunman and Natty and that's all it took...This is a most unusual book. It's told in alternating points of view - Shandi's and Williams with a lot of interjection from Walcott and William's best friend Paula. I can't say I loved or even liked this book much but something kept me reading. I must say that there is one big, whopping shocker of a twist that I never saw coming that turned the book totally cattywampus (my jaw literally dropped) and some things sort of made sense and others still, not so much. None of the characters were particularly likable but they were all very well drawn (excepting Paula. She was a bit one note.) The plot was carefully constructed and full of very intriguing twists and turns and yet the book was ... boring somehow. I wish I could explain it better. It could have been so much more.
  • (3/5)
    Every now and then I find myself sucked into reading some sort of love story that leaves me crying away at the end. This is the first one of 2014 apparently. A few times at the beginning of the novel I laughed out loud (awkward at a swim meet and at a bar waiting for a take-out pizza BTW), and I did find most of the characters to be likeable though irritating at various moments - wait, that's just like real people. It was a pleasant story - there were twists I didn't quite expect - always a plus. The key words from the description that drew me in were genius, genetics, Asperger's, and the whole business of conflicting parental faiths. And if I ever should find myself in the dating world again, I want the guy that calls his maid service and tells them to come over to my house 'stat'.
  • (5/5)
    In Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson Shandi Pierce and her three year old son, Natty, are moving to Atlanta where they will live in her dad's condo while Shandi finishes college. Her best friend, Walcott, is helping her move. At a Circle K convenience store right outside the metro area, Shandi and Natty get stuck in the middle of an armed robbery and become hostages. Shandi immediately falls in love with another hostage, a huge blond Thor-like geneticist named William Ashe, when he puts himself between Natty and the robber. William and Shandi end up needing assistance from each other, but it is clear that friends of the two disapprove. Walcott tries to convey his disappointment in Shandi's choices and Shandi is locking horns with William's best friend, Paula.

    Someone Else's Love Story is narrated by Shandi and William. While Shandi can be very emotional, it is clear, even before it is confirmed, that William is on the spectrum (Asperger's) and remains emotionally detached. Seemingly these two would be a good match, but something is not quite right. William has issues in his past that are unresolved and unknown to Shandi, but the same can be said of her.

    Joshilyn Jackson is one of the best southern writers around today, in my opinion, and continues to impress me more and more with each book she writes. (I think I need to start praying for her health so she'll be writing books for a long time.) All of her characters feel like real people. Each of them has a head full of secret thoughts that keeps them apart even while their hearts want to connect to someone or something. In this case a near tragedy draws Shandi to William, but at the same time Shandi needs William to do something only he can do for her.

    In Someone Else's Love Story she has created a real sense of time and place and then populated her world with characters that are easy to empathize with. I wanted everything to work out, somehow, for everyone in this book. This isn't a conventional love story, though, even if it seems it might be. Jackson has a few twists and turns for the reader. She sends us through those twists and turns with a good dose of humor and heart, faith and redemption, and family. This is a book that you will stay up too late reading and not regret it for a moment.

    Even though I had an advanced reading copy, I simply must share two quotes. (Let's be clear, if I can't stop myself from quoting an ARC, you know the writing is incredible - and it is that good.)

    "Anniversaries can open up old wounds, he'd said.... William is not a fan of metaphors; they are so often inaccurate. William, the priest should have said, anniversaries are just like being vivisected."(pg 64)

    "It was an ugly thing to witness. Betrayal is always ugly, even on a shaded patio full of little birds." (pg. 205)

    Very Highly Recommended

    Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from HarperCollins for review purposes.
  • (4/5)
    I'm giving this book a 4 star because it was well written, the characters were well done, but too much driving around in cars and not developing the main story line. Then the author threw in a twist at the end,actually two twists, and then ended the book in a couple short chapters.
  • (5/5)
    Listened to the audio version. First time reading this author. This was amazing story! Loved the characters and the storyline. A few unexpected but pleasant surprise twists. Looking forward to reading more by this author.
  • (5/5)
    Shandi Pierce and William Ashe meet during an armed robbery at a convenience store. She's a single mom who has convinced herself she's had a virgin birth, he's a scientific savant with a recent past filled with tragedy. She thinks that destiny brought them together, but there's much more to William Ashe's story than meets the eye. This book is hilarious in a totally effortless way, is full of lovable characters, and definitely was not the story I was expecting.
  • (4/5)
    A young single mother spots an attractive guy in a convenience store and immediately decides they are absolutely meant to be. So of course they're going to fall in love, right? Not quite. A robbery ensues, injuries occur, and a series of events is set off that leads to struggles in love, questions of paternity, and ultimately growth. It's all so dramatic and really, really fun. I listened to the audiobook, which is read by the author herself (something I tend to dislike for fiction..) and the narration is perfect for the story.