Friday, March 11, 2016

The Opposite of Everyone

The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson
HarperCollins: 2/16/16
eBook review copy; 304 pages
hardcover ISBN-13: 9780062105684

The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson is a very highly recommended novel about a tough lawyer and what made her so tough - her past.

Paula Vauss was named Kali Jai after the Hindu god of change and destruction when she was born to her teenage mother, Kai (Karen), who was serving time in a juvenile detention center in Alabama. Her grandmother, who was going to care for Paula, was sure she heard "Paula Jane" so that is what was written on Paula's birth certificate. Paula grew up with her young free-spirited mother, who delighted in telling young Paula tales from Hindu mythology as the two aimlessly moved from town to town as Kai went from boyfriend to boyfriend. Kai taught Paula how to tell a story, and Paula uses that skill today.

Now a tough divorce lawyer, Paula has been estranged from her mother for 15 years. The incident that changed their relationship and put a wedge between the closeness they once shared happened years ago, and Paula has been trying to make amends for her actions by sending her mother monthly checks for years. Now her mother has returned her check with a cryptic note written on it, saying that she is dying. Then, Paula, who has kept an emotional distance from others and refuses to form any attachments beyond the one to her cat, has a surprise literally come to her that will change her world.

As the present day drama unfolds, Paula recounts her mother's stories and recalls memories from her past. All the barriers she's built around herself for protection may have to be torn down if what she suspects is true. And then there is her former lover, current private investigator, Birdwine. Does she really want a relationship with him again, beyond a professional connection, or is one even possible.

I was totally engrossed in the story and the mysteries that drive the plot forward. Paula is a hard, tough-as-nails woman who has made herself that way because she believes it's what she needed to do to survive. She has major, glaring flaws and shortcomings in her personality and modus operandi, but I liked her. I wanted Paula to succeed in her personal life as well as in her profession. Ultimately this is a story of an unconventional family and forgiveness, and the power of mythology to transform the ordinary into something magical and compelling.

As always, Jackson's writing is incredible - smart, funny, poignant. She describes scenes and characters with a seductive ease and charm that allows the plot to flow beautifully, propelling the story forward even if the scene or the truth about a character is hard or ugly. That is part of the sublime appeal of all of Jackson's novels. Her characters are real people, with flaws and big problems, but you care about these wounded souls. You will want what's best for them and for them to reach some measure of peace in the end.

The Opposite of Everyone is good. Very, very good. It will grab you right at the start and you will be racing to the end to see what happens next. (I blame Jackson for some lost sleep last week.) Sure this is a stuck-overnight-at-the-airport book, but it's also a pull-it-out-and-read-at-every-opportunity book and a take-a-little-longer-lunchbreak book. I love everything Jackson has written and The Opposite of Everyone is no exception.

Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from HarperCollins for review purposes.


1 comment:

trish said...

Yes! This is the first book in a long time that hasn't made me fall asleep while reading it. :)

Thank you for being on this tour!