About The Opposite of Everyone• Paperback: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (October 11, 2016)
A fiercely independent divorce lawyer learns the power of family and connection when she receives a cryptic message from her estranged mother in this bittersweet, witty novel from the nationally bestselling author ofSomeone Else’s Love Story and gods in Alabama—an emotionally resonant tale about the endurance of love and the power of stories to shape and transform our lives. Born in Alabama, Paula Vauss spent the first decade of her life on the road with her free-spirited young mother, Kai, an itinerant storyteller who blended Hindu mythology with southern oral tradition to re-invent their history as they roved. But everything, including Paula’s birth name Kali Jai, changed when she told a story of her own—one that landed Kai in prison and Paula in foster care. Separated, each holding secrets of her own, the intense bond they once shared was fractured. These days, Paula has reincarnated herself as a tough-as-nails divorce attorney with a successful practice in Atlanta. While she hasn’t seen Kai in fifteen years, she’s still making payments on that Karmic debt—until the day her last check is returned in the mail, along with a mysterious note: “I am going on a journey, Kali. I am going back to my beginning; death is not the end. You will be the end. We will meet again, and there will be new stories. You know how Karma works.” Then Kai’s most treasured secret literally lands on Paula’s doorstep, throwing her life into chaos and transforming her from only child to older sister. Desperate to find her mother before it’s too late, Paula sets off on a journey of discovery that will take her back to the past and into the deepest recesses of her heart. With the help of her ex-lover Birdwine, an intrepid and emotionally volatile private eye who still carries a torch for her, this brilliant woman, an expert at wrecking families, now has to figure out how to put one back together—her own. The Opposite of Everyone is a story about story itself, how the tales we tell connect us, break us, and define us, and how the endings and beginnings we choose can destroy us . . . and make us whole. Laced with sharp humor and poignant insight, it is beloved New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson at her very best.
About Joshilyn JacksonJoshilyn Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of six previous novels, including gods in Alabama, A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, and Someone Else’s Love Story. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages. A former actor, she is also an award-winning audiobook narrator. She lives in Decatur, Georgia, with her husband and their two children. Connect with her through her website, Facebook, or Twitter.
This is the best book I've read so far this year. The narrative switches back and forth between the present and Paula's childhood. In the present Paula seems to have it all together, especially professionally as a successful divorce attorney... but emotionally she's a wreck, suffering from debilitating panic attacks and unable to maintain a meaningful relationship. The cause of Paula's anxiety is something she did as a child that irrevocably changed her mother Kai's life. Their relationship is heartbreaking, and the only thing that redeems Kai is that she provides a family for Paula in the end.
Paula's ex-lover Birdwine has suffered heartbreak, too. After a bad split, Paula needs his PI skills to help her track her mother across the country. He agrees to take on the case after negotiating a huge increase in his fees. I am fascinated with their relationship because it's evident early on that they are in love, and that they love each other flaws and all. Unfortunately it takes a dangerous, life-threatening situation for Paula to finally realize her feelings for Birdwine.
One of my favorite elements of this novel is Kai's storytelling. She blends Hindu mythology with Kai and Paula's story. The Oral Tradition is an important part of Southern culture: People tell stories and pass down family histories around campfires, at afternoon teas, family reunions, and during story time before bed. What makes Kai and Paula so unique is that Paula's family history is not Hindu: she's adopted it like most Southerners adopt a college football team. Perhaps it is Paula's father's culture-- she is a mixture of several races.
As unique and well-drawn as all the characters are in this novel (even the young girls while Paula is in foster care, told in flashback) the plot is equally as interesting. I thought the flashback parts of the novel were perfectly spaced throughout the narrative, and there were absolutely no boring sections. I was extremely pleased with the more than satisfying ending. The Opposite of Everyone is a fantastic story. I'm happy to have discovered the talented Joshilyn Jackson.
Disclosure: I received a copy of The Opposite of Everyone from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.