Welcome to my stop on the Why Can't I Be You? Blog Tour! The tour is being hosted by AToMR Tours; you can find the complete tour schedule here. My stop includes a review and a tour giveaway.
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Plume (Penguin)
Publication Date: 2/26/13
Source: Received from publisher for review
At one time or another, everyone has wished she could be someone else. Exploring this universal longing, Allie Larkin follows up the success of her debut novel, Stay, with a moving portrait of friendship and identity.
When Jenny Shaw hears someone shout “Jessie!” across a hotel lobby, she impulsively answers. All her life, Jenny has toed the line, but something propels her to seize the opportunity to become Jessie Morgan, a woman to whom she bears an uncanny resemblance. Lonely in her own life, Jenny is embraced by Jessie’s warm circle of friends—and finds unexpected romance. But when she delves into Jessie’s past, Jenny discovers a secret that spurs her to take another leap into the unknown.
In a statement that will surprise no one, Why Can't I Be You? is a story of identity. I'm not talking about mistaken identity, though that scenario is what sets the whole story rolling. At the heart of the book is a young woman been alone almost her entire life, desperate to belong: to someone, to something, anywhere. An impulsive decision leads Jenny down a path self-discovery, and leads her to where she belonged all along.
I know what you must be thinking. How in the world could old friends mistake a complete stranger for their former best friend? That is exactly what I thought as I began reading, but the scenario made sense. Jenny/Jessie's friends had not seen her since graduation day, thirteen years before. Jessie left her friends confused and hurt by her hasty departure. I'm pretty sure my former best friend's would recognize me, and that realize some random chick with similar features was not me. People change a lot, but that is a bit of a stretch. However, Jenny looks a lot like Jessie, or at least how her friends think she may have matured, so it works. But, I believe the most important detail is that Myra, Heather, Robbie and Fish all saw who they wanted to see. They wanted Jessie to be there, they needed some sort of resolution.
Though Jenny inadvertently gets involved with Jessie's friends, she can't help but bond with them instantly. At first it seems as if Jessie was the glue, the center of the group, and the leader. Well, she was the center, and the leader, but Jenny slowly discovers that Jessie was not always a good friend. Jessie left a pile of destruction when she left, but Jenny can fix that. She thinks. She also begins to fall for Fish, and you know that can't end well. But Jenny also comes to terms with some sad truths of her own life. And realizes that it's not to late to change her path.
I know from the outside, Jenny must seem completely bananas for assuming another person's identity. She's not. Jenny's story broke my heart. She had horrible parents, no friends, an apathetic boyfriend. She's lonely, confused, and honestly just can't bear to disappoint Myra and the rest of the gang. And that is Jenny's biggest issue, the need to be whomever the person she's with needs her to be. Her mom, her boyfriend, her best friend...she molds herself to fit whatever form she feels will make that person happy. This crazy week in someone else's shoes is the catalyst for change. As for Myra, Heather, Robbie, and Fish, they were all great characters, people I would want in my life. Myra and Heather were so full of life and compassion. Robbie was the perfect brotherly type. And Fish is the guy we all deserve.
No good story comes without it's pivotal scene, the moment of truth. That moment in Why Can't I Be You? was brilliantly written, and spurs some big changes of course. I think the author handled this perfectly. If dealt with lightly, it might make the story feel too trivial. If it's brutal and without a promise of a great future, then it's unsatisfying. Allie Larkin walked that line to perfection.
Why Can't I Be You? is a story that I'm grateful to have read. It served some happy and light-hearted moments, some painful moments, made me think, and was an all-together beautiful book.
But what I never had is what was most beautiful about Fish and Heather and Myra and Robbie--they were people who were cared about. You could see it in their faces. You could still see it. They were secure in knowing they had friends. They were loved, and they always would be. I choked back tears.
I looked at Jessie Morgan's picture again and wondered what kind of person would ever leave friends like these. ~pg. 108
"You guys don't know how lucky you are. You don't know how important you are. You're superheroes. You saved each other. I wanted you to save me too. I wanted to belong to you. To know what it felt like to have friends like you." ~pg. 254
Purchase Why Can't I Be You? at:
About the author:
Connect with Allie at: