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In Some Other World, Maybe by Shari Goldhagen

Monday, January 12, 2015

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In December 1992, three groups of teenagers head to the theater to see the movie version of the famed Eons & Empires comic books. For Adam it's a last ditch effort to connect with something (actually, someone, the girl he's had a crush on for years) in his sleepy Florida town before he leaves for good. Passionate fan Sharon skips school in Cincinnati so she can fully appreciate the flick without interruption from her vapid almost-friends—a seemingly silly indiscretion with shocking consequences. And in suburban Chicago, Phoebe and Ollie simply want to have a nice first date and maybe fool around in the dark, if everyone they know could just stop getting in the way.Over the next two decades, these unforgettable characters criss-cross the globe, becoming entwined by friendship, sex, ambition, fame and tragedy. A razor-sharp, darkly comic page-turner, In Some Other World, Maybe sheds light on what it means to grow up in modern America.

I generally enjoy these stories with interconnected characters but most revolve around a tragedy, so it was nice that In Some Other World, Maybe was more of a romantic comedy. I also liked that it spanned 18 or so years. I always wonder ‘where are they now’ after reading a particularly good book, so it was a pleasure to journey with these characters for a decent period of time.

I’ll take character over plot all day, every day, so luckily In Some Other World, Maybe was a character driven piece. As it follows mainly four characters, there aren't many fast-paced, nail-biting scenes but the characters really do grow and mature and that's exciting in its own way. I loved Adam and Phoebe’s journey the most. Both ended up in a better place than they started – as you would hope – but it took a great deal of time, just like in real life. I especially loved Phoebe and all that she had to go through to become the glimmer of the person we get at the end of the novel. Somewhere towards the end, she talks about people sniffing their nose at so-called ‘privileged’ people going for counselling – after all, what do they have to be sad about? – but everyone has problems and a right to talk about those problems. Even though you hear it all the time, that even beautiful people have issues, Phoebe's story really hammers this point home in a most human way.

The only character I didn’t really connect with personally was Sharon. I’m not sure if more time was needed with her or if she’s just one of those unknowable types of character. It’s not that she was unlikeable (as we are constantly reminded, characters need not be likeable), I just didn’t get her. On the other hand, I wish more time had been spent on Oliver. I liked his family story and feel there was more to mine from adult Oliver but there are only so many pages.

The themes were universal and will resonate with many twenty-and-thirtysomethings. For example, chasing dreams – no matter how lofty they are – and also making the decision to re-evaluate those dreams. It takes a strong and mature person to look at where they are and admit things aren’t working out on this road; to realise perhaps there is a need to go backwards in order to move forward again. Again, that’s why I loved Phoebe the most. The choices made by our parents and how those choices influence our own patterns of behaviour was also an interesting aspect of In Some Other World, Maybe.

Overall, In Some Other World, Maybe was a nice and quick read with plenty of laughs and a couple of home truths thrown in for good measure. If you like interconnected character stories, definitely give this one a go.

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