Published by Atria Books on 9 August 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Kindle Purchase
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?
Swear on This Life is one of those books, you know the ones… Emotional, strong, realistic, but kind of not. Very meta, with characters that draw you in and won’t let go. Beautifully written and well executed, too!
Swear on This Life is the story of a woman who reads a book about a woman reading a book about a woman… That’s just a tiny part of what happens here, though, but I loved the way it was meta of meta in more than one way. The premise is very original, and I found it to be a fantastic way to do a second chance at love romance. There is a lot of heart-ache, and Emiline has a lot of anger to deal with. Both because of her buried past, and because of that stupid book! The one written by her childhood sweetheart, which features her fractured past – the one she has been thinking about fictionalizing herself.
Emiline was a flawed character just the way I like them. In many ways she was strong, and in others, she really needed people she could trust and lean on around her. Swear on This Life goes back and forth between the past and the present, both in Emiline’s real world and in the book she’s reading… but doesn’t want to finish. I loved how reading bout her own past – even if it was fiction – made Emiline finally talk about it to other people. And in a way, that was what she really needed in order to leave it where it belonged, too. As it was, her past had influenced her present in rather disastrous ways, because she hadn’t been able to make her peace with it.
I have to admit that Carlino has a way of getting all my emotions going haywire! I absolutely loved reading about Emiline’s and Jase’s childhood. The bittersweet feeling of something great that is lost. How they could always count on each other when life at home was too difficult to deal with. And how their friendship grew into love that was stronger than the horrible things they had to live with. Until one fatal day. That changed everything.
Written in first person point of view, past tense, the story unfolds partly in the present, and also through the book Jase has written. There are some great dialogues, and all the characters are well fleshed out. I still get a little emotional when thinking about Swear on This Life, even if it’s been a while since I finished reading it. Contemporary romance fans who enjoy stories where a couple get a second chance will love this one! So go pick it up, like, now!
As I walked, I though about where my mother had gone. She was dead to my father but to me she was still alive somewhere living a better life. I didn’t hate her. i didn’t understand her, but I didn’t hat her. I just wished she would’ve taken me with her.
I laughed bitterly, and my smile faded quickly. “How could she just leave her daughter, though?” “It’s hard to understand because you’re not like her, thank god. You never were.” Hearing those words felt like a hug from God. When your own mother, the woman who conceived you and gave birth to you, is heartless enough to abandon you on a dirt road in some rural town in Ohio with a mean alcoholic, you’re always a little concerned that those awful genes will come to life within you at some point.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: