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Someone Else's Love Story    by Joshilyn Jackson order for
Someone Else's Love Story
by Joshilyn Jackson
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2014 (2013)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

When Shandi's disagreeable stepmother Bethany called to invite her to move with her four-year-old son into the condo in Atlanta she couldn't believe her good fortune. She'd been commuting to her classes at Georgia State from her mother's house, so instead of driving two hours each way, she would be minutes away from school. Her father wants her son Natty, a precocious child, to go to a better pre-school than the Christian one near her mother. Of course, Shandi believes that his motives are actually religious, since his strong Jewish faith and her mother's strong Christian beliefs were the main cause of their divorce seventeen years ago and their constant warfare ever since.

Natty was born after a party at a fraternity house where Shandi was apparently drugged since she has no recollection of any sexual contact. In fact, her virginity was still intact, giving her the right to claim that Natty is hers alone, the product of a miracle. A stop at a Circle K for snacks during their move into Atlanta results in a terrifying robbery attempt, with a young man who seems hopped up on some kind of drugs waving a gun at everyone in the store. As the situation disintegrates, Natty is traumatized, but Shandi does her best to shield and protect him, determined that whatever might happen to her, Natty will survive.

As the hostages huddle on the floor where they've been ordered to sit, she searches her mind for a way to escape. She decides that her best chance is to assist the strong-looking man, William, who is next to her on the floor and helping to shield Natty between them. The title, Someone Else's Love Story, refers to William, whose wife and child were in a deadly car accident a year to the day before the robbery at the Circle K. William's narrative alternates with Shandi's, as he reflects on his loss a year ago and his life leading up to that accident. One of the most interesting aspects of this book is learning how William has coped (during his 35 years) with Asperger's Syndrome, which made mathematics more real to him than other people's facial expressions. William explains his situation as DNA that left his body with 'duplications and deletions.' In fact, he believes that our bodily chemistry explains everything that we do, until he begins to understand, as he attempts to help Shandi, that love is much stronger than chemistry.

This is a terrific book that is so much fun to read. Joshilyn Jackson tells the story with a droll sort of humor that had me laughing out loud at times and smiling frequently, but the humor is never cruel. The main characters struggle with family problems, a terrifying experience, and loss, but through it all they learn to be stronger and more understanding of others. There are surprising events that contribute to a satisfying ending for both the characters and for us, the readers.

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