Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Swear On This Life by Renee Carlino

Swear On This Life by Renee Carlino

Review by Lauren

source: copy from Netgalley; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryWhen 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?

Review: I love books that somehow weave in writing or books. It's just fun to see people kind of like you in a novel, you know? So when I read the summary behind Swear On This Life, I was immediately excited. I'm so glad I was given the chance to read/review this one, because it really was a great book. I'll leave the official summary to give you an idea of what this book is about and instead just focus on my thoughts and feelings.

First off, there is Emiline, who is the person readers follow in the story. She is a creative writing professor but she can't seem to get anywhere with her own career. It's easy to feel for Emiline. She just seems sort of stuck in life. When she comes across a bestselling novel, it's not long before she realizes that the author J. Colby has to be her childhood friend and first love, Jase. Now, I will say that the name changes confused me a bit at first. Emiline is the real life girl and Jason or Jase is the real life boy, and author J. Colby. The story that Jase wrote, he named his characters Emerson and Jax, and they are meant to be a version of the real life people.

I thought the story within the story worked really well because it's showing the history between Emiline and Jase, even if the names are a bit different. After reading certain chapters, Emiline always notes what was real and what Jase embellished or switched around. This helped you keep track of what was true and what was fiction, but until the end, it was mostly the truth, just told through Em's point of view and not Jax/Jase.

When we finally meet Jase, I wasn't sure at first. I liked him, but he also seemed very different from the boy who grew up with Emiline, living next door and dealing with their own family problems. He seemed more cocky and sure of himself, which was good and bad. Good because he grew up and got over the past, but he wasn't the best match that I could see for Emiline. I soon changed my mind though, as Emiline got to know his boy again. He truly was the person who got her through a rough childhood and it's easy to see how they would always be connected. The book within the book chronicles Emiline and Jase's childhood, though told in the point of view of Emerson. It shows that Jase/Jax had a drug addicted mother and Emiline/Emerson had a mom who left and a drunk, often verbally abusive dad. They lived in run down houses, at the end of a long, dirt road. They didn't have much, but they had each other, and it was a beautiful story, both the book that Jase had written and the overall story that makes up the "present day" of Swear On This Life.

I'll be sure to read more by Carlino!


Melliane said...

It sounds interesting, maybe.

Jennifer Humphries said...

This sounds like a great book! I can't wait to read it. Thanks for sharing your review.

Tanya Atkinson said...

Awesome review, Lauren! I posted my review of this one last week and loved it so, so much. I just fell in love with Em and Jases's story (and Emerson and Jax) and was pulling for them so hard. And, like you, I really liked the story within a story style that Carlino used. This is one that has stuck with me (I read in back in June) and I know I'll end up buying a physical copy. And now I want to read everything Carlino has written!

Erika Sorocco said...

Ooh I absolutely adore the premise of this one!


Grace @ RebelMommyBookBlog said...

Glad you loved this one too!! I really enjoyed the book within a book. Great review!

Eva @ All Books Considered said...

Great review! I also liked the story within the story in this one but I didn't always get Em and/or Trevor, especially. I wish there would have been a bit more flushing out of the current E/J situation

Joyous Reads said...

Oh, I enjoyed this one, too. It was tough to like Emiline first, but overall, I understood her. Glad you enjoyed this one, too!

Midnight Cowgirl said...

I'm excited to read this one :)

kimbacaffeinate said...

I too like books with books/authors. This sounds clever, and you have me curious.

Keertana said...

I've seen this title and cover around a lot lately, so I'm glad you enjoyed it and it lives up to the hype I've been seeing! Will have to give this a try myself, sometime soon!! :)

Naomi Hop said...

I thought the story within the story worked well too, it enabled me to get to know the characters in the past and present. Great review!

Nicole Hewitt said...

I so want to read this one. I've heard so many amazing things about Carlino, and this book sounds fantastic.

Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction