Saturday, August 27, 2016

Allie Larkin - Why Can't I Be You

At one time or another, everyone has wished they could be someone else. Exploring this universal longing, Allie Larkin follows up the success of her debut novel, Stay, with a moving portrait of friendship and identity.
When Jenny Shaw hears someone shout “Jessie!” across a hotel lobby, she impulsively answers. All her life, Jenny has toed the line, but something propels her to seize the opportunity to become Jessie Morgan, a woman to whom she bears an uncanny resemblance. Lonely in her own life, Jenny is embraced by Jessie’s warm circle of friends—and finds unexpected romance. But when she delves into Jessie’s past, Jenny discovers a secret that spurs her to take another leap into the unknown.

Comment: This is the second book I read by this author. After Stay, which was one of my favorite books of last year, I was very curious to read more about the author but apparently, she only has written these two books. I hope she keeps writing in the future, though...

This story features Jenny Shaw, a young woman who works at a job she doesn't have the passion for. She also thinks her boyfriend will ask her to move in with him but when he drives her to the airport instead of a big question, she is told he wants to end things. Devastated, Jenny boards her plane and feels miserable.
At the hotel, where the business conference she is supposed to attend is taking place, she is mistaken with someone else. The mix up apparently happens because she is very much alike Jessie Morgan and the new people she meets only assume "Jessie" has had a nose job.
But Jenny likes the new people she meets, she finally feels wanted after a crappy childhood and adolescence and the recent break up. She pretends to be Jessie for a while, but then a while turns into days, and so on but what will she do when she is found out?

I liked this book. I think the author has a very simple but east writing style, her prose is easy to follow and captivating. I think this book wasn't as impressive as Stay in terms of plot and characters especially because this book has a very unlikely plot. Ok, not very realistic because who knows what people actually do. But the idea of simply impersonating someone and nobody seeing it, in particular people that knew the real woman...I mean, it's very unrealistic and difficult to imagine how could be possible. But even contemplating that scenario, wouldn't anyone notice the things that wouldn't seem right? Wouldn't anyone ever say or ask something that would reveal the truth? Humm, that is taking things a bit too far.

Putting aside all doubts and unlikely actions, the story was quite lovely because it touched one factor we all look for in our lives: acceptance. Jenny was suddenly someone who had friends, who could share secret thoughts, memories... She obviously took her fantasy too far, but the emotional aspects of all this, the experience itself and what it meant for Jenny in a moment of her life where things were difficult and she struggled to recognize who she was, individually.
The interactions between Jenny and all the other characters offer interesting tidbits into her physique and how sad her past was but it also showed the possibilities and the hope Jenny could have. I imagine how difficult it would be to come clean - because eventually she had to - and that showed strength of character too...

There's a romance here. Jenny falls in love with someone who thinks she's Jessie. This was quite the challenge but the author made their connection very credible and it was romantic and hot to see them together. Of course, when the truth comes up - and it always does - it was a shock and there was a lot of hurt and mixed feelings in between, especially related to the characters that felt it the most.

In one hand, the end felt incomplete because there are still things unsolved and to explain but after thinking about it, life isn't simple to solve al the time and I actually liked the internal journey Jenny went through and the will she had to change how she saw her life. It was more realistic to let her try and leave us the idea that the friendship and love she found had room to develop when she was being the real Jenny. Quite ironic, after such a plot...

Anyway, I liked the book and had a great time reading it. 
So sad the author hasn't more already but when she publishes a new I'll try to pay attention.
Grade: 8/10

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