In Some Other World, Maybe by Shari Goldhagen
Pub. Date: January 13, 2015
Source: finished copy via publisher (Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!!)
Summary: 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.
Genre: Adult, Fiction
Recommended for: Readers looking to become invested in a group of characters and watch as they grow (literally – they start the novel as teens and the book follows them for the next few decades)
In Some Other World, Maybe initially caught my eye with that gorgeous cover. It’s even prettier in person, bright and bold watercolors. I’m not ashamed at all to admit I TOTALLY judge books by their covers and have found some of my favorites by browsing shelves and picking up the prettiest. The same can be said for this novel: the inside is even lovelier.
December, 1992. The famous Eons & Empires comics have just been adapted for the screen and it’s this movie that ties together the lives of a group of teenagers. Adam works at his grandparents’ ice cream shop in Florida and is counting down the days until graduation when he can finally get out of this town. When his long-time crush asks him to close the shop early to go see the film, he doesn’t hesitate – this is his one final chance to tell her how he feels. In Cincinnati, Sharon skips school to go see the film without her friends (more like frenemies). Having recently moved to Chicago, Phoebe is still finding her place in a new school surrounded by new people and after a few months of science tutoring at lunch, she admits her feelings to Ollie who, in turn, feels the same way. A movie is their perfect idea of a first date – if only everyone would stop getting in their way.
Over the next few decades, In Some Other World, Maybe follows these characters through high school and college, on into the new millennium as they find jobs, lose jobs, and fall in love.
If you know me, you know I am all about multiple narrators and books that follow more than one character. In Some Other World, Maybe has that in spades! Initially I was caught off guard – I’m used to each chapter focusing on just one character while this book pulls all the stops and journeys on multiple story lines, visiting multiple cities per chapter. Although it was jarring at first, I quickly fell into the swing of things and by the time the stories interwove I was golden.
This book is a hard one to discuss and I’m really not sure why. When I first finished I wanted to just sit there and let my thoughts sink in before even attempting to talk about them. A week and a half later, I’m still not entirely sure what to say – and what I do want to say I can’t because that would completely ruin everything and the joy of this novel is unraveling the threads and secrets that pull these characters together.
I will say though, that Goldhagen is ten times more brilliant than I will ever be. The way she connects these characters is nothing short of genius and I actually gasped during a few scenes when my mind caught up to what was going on. Bravo, bravo, Ms. Goldhagen! I’m still in awe over the tiniest of cameos and that alone made this book worth reading. I think that, had this book been in a lesser writer’s hands, everything would fall apart and feel outrageously cheesy. Here, however, I completely believed that these characters could come together and that their lives would intersect in such a way when they all started out hundreds of miles apart.
Watching these characters grow over the course of the novel was a delight and actually made me love them even more. Seeing them grow (literally) from teenagers to college students to adults made me truly care about them and want to know more. Adam hits it big in Hollywood. Phoebe is a struggling actress who moonlights as a bartender (even though she’s just a phone call away from Daddy writing a big fat check). Sharon moves to New York where she falls in love (with Phoebe’s brother) and hopes to publish her novel someday. These characters took on lives on their own and I happily sat back to enjoy the show.
Despite my love and adoration for this novel, I do think it’s a read where the stars need to align and you’re in the right place and the right time with the right mindset. I picked up In Some Other World, Maybe immediately after finishing Stephen King’s Revival. As much as I loved Revival, I desperately needed something different. While In Some Other World, Maybe wasn’t necessarily a lighter read (parts of this novel physically hurt they were so soul-crushing), it was so far from King that it was exactly what I needed and I wonder if that didn’t help me to love it more. I’m positive I would have still enjoyed it had I picked it up after any other read, but it was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time.
Even after rambling I’m still not entirely sure what to say about this one. YES, I enjoyed it immensely. YES, I finished it in a single sitting. YES, I’m positive it’ll show up again in June as part of my Top Reads of 2015 (part one!) post. While the layers weren’t quite as deep and far-reaching, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life (a top read of 2013 and one I need to revisit before the companion novel comes out later this year). In Some Other World, Maybe is sure to receive buzz and bestsellers spots and it wholeheartedly deserves each and every mention and I can easily see myself recommending this one to customers looking for something a little off, something a little quirky and different, but full of emotion with characters that pack a punch.