Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: August 9, 2016
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
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?
So, I don’t know exactly how I feel about this book. I can confidently say that I loved the first half of this book, really the majority of it. I couldn’t put it down. I tried to pace myself, but by the end of the first day, I had read 214 pages of the 303-page book. For you non-math whizzes out there that’s 70% of the book (yes, I had to use a calculator). The only reason I put it down was because it was 12:45am, and I couldn’t bring myself to read it all at once. I really wanted to make it last longer than 24 hours. So I put it down, and tried to sleep.
“If you can surrender to the idea that there might be a plan, instead of reducing every magical moment to a coincidence, then love will find you.”
This morning I woke up and picked the book up right away. I am really sad to say I was let down. A good portion of the first half (200+ pages), takes place over about a week or so. It’s fast paced, a lot is happening; the reader is learning a ton about the characters.
“The past would only fester and eat away at us if we tried to hold on to it too tightly.”
I don’t know if it is possible for a book to drag and rush at the same time, but the last chapters of this book succeeded in doing both at the same time. Days, weeks, months go by and Emiline is dragging her feet. She’s still with her boyfriend, she hasn’t finished reading the book yet, she’s avoiding, delaying, and it’s annoying.
What I was probably most disappointed by was when I got to what I think was supposed to be the climax of the story. It let me down and left me thinking, Wait, what? That’s it?
Once Emiline got her shit together, nothing happened fast – meaning, there was a lot of nothing going on but it was rushed. I would have loved to have read more interaction between Emi and Jase as adults. I mean this quote alone is what swoony romances are made of:
“So you never fell in love?”
“No,” he said firmly.
“Because none of them were you.”
The story of their childhood was so good and captivating, there was so much anticipation, and I think the ending just fell a little flat. It fizzled out. And I’m really sad about it. I feel like I’m missing out on something.
If the story had kept the same feeling of the first 200+ pages, I most likely would have rated it a 5. But the last third, it being anticlimactic; it just left me feeling disappointed, like I’m missing out on their story. So I sadly have to give it a 3. Which really hurts because I feel like it had so much wonderful potential.