When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.
Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.
That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.
The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?
When it comes to Renee Carlino‘s novels I am an automatic buyer. Her previous books I’ve devoured in days. So when it came to Swear on This Life I had a countdown on my phone for it and maybe a reminder set. Shush.
Well, for Swear on This Life as a reader I wasn’t exactly sure how to handle a story within a story but it played out perfectly with how Renee wrote it. Emiline is a grad student at UC San Diego with a long-term boyfriend who she isn’t sure where things are going. Things come to halting stop when her roommate gives her a book called “All The Roads Between” by the mysterious J. Colby.
While reading this automatic bestseller Emiline discovers the story is her own, her past and childhood. Emiline starts to fall apart over the fact the author is her childhood bestfriend and first love.
Reading the novel Emiline goes through a whirlwind of emotions that brings her past back front and center, she goes through many ups and downs trying to make piece with her past that she refuses to speak about with her boyfriend causing the relationship to become strained.
Before I delve deeper into the book I suggest you go to the bookstore and pick it up. Emiline is a secretive, closed off 20 something who learns to be more open about her life as she keeps reading Jason’s book about their lives.
Renee Carlino’s novels have always torn at my heart strings, her words read like poetry and end up in tears at the end. SOTL is her finest and well written novel yet, her writing has become much better each time she releases a new book. This one though, it’s raw and honest. I was tearing up reading it in Starbucks of all places. I thought I was hung up on Before We We’re Strangers but Swear on This Life takes the top spot on my list.
Also, can we please just appreciate the beautiful and eye-catching cover for this heartbreaking novel?