Review: Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

One of my favorite movies is Sliding Doors. Starring a pre-Goop Gwyneth Paltrow (with one of those haircuts I’ve always wanted to try, but just know I can’t pull off) and an adorable John Hannah, it tells the story of a woman named Helen who rushes to catch a train one morning after getting fired from her job. From there the movie takes off in two different directions – one in which Helen catches the train and arrives at home to find her boyfriend in bed with another woman, and one in which she misses it, delaying her enough that she doesn’t get home until the woman has already left and she continues on, blissfully unaware of the affair.

Maybe in Another Life doesn’t have the adultery, but it’s similar in that it tells the story of Hannah – a young woman recently arrived back in LA after ending a relationship in New York City. Staying with her best friend until she can get on her feet, they go out one night and connect with former friends, including Hannah’s high-school ex, Ethan. Where the path diverges is when Hannah has to decide whether or not to go home with Ethan. In one scenario, she does, and the two embark upon the relationship they never could seem to get right when they were younger. In the other, she says no, only to be hit by a car and forced into a long period of convalescence in the hospital, where she meets a handsome night nurse named Henry.

Both stories explore the concepts of fate, destiny, and serendipity, touching on the many ways in which the tiny choices we make have the potential to affect our lives in ways we could never imagine. And even though they end with different takes on the concept of fate, both are ultimately satisfying, with the four characters – both Helens, and both Hannahs – reaching the best possible version of her ending. I definitely recommend this book, and if you like it, check out the movie, too!

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