March 4, 2016

Book Review: The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson

I'd only read one other Joshilyn Jackson novel - Someone Else's Love Story - and I really enjoyed it. So when I got sent The Opposite of Everyone, and realized it's the story of Paula, a side character in Someone Else's Love Story, I was SO excited. [But if you haven't read SELS, that's fine, you can start with TOoE, it's not a sequel, just loosely connected.]

In The Opposite of Everyone, Paula Vauss receives a cryptic message from her estranged and itinerant mother. Kai has always marched to her own tune, mixing Southern folklore and Indian mysticism. But now she is dying, and Paula, a fiercely independent divorce lawyer in Atlanta, must come to terms with the shocking surprise Kai has revealed in her final letter.

Exploring the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters and the sad reality of so many abandoned girls in the foster care system, The Opposite of Everyone is completely gripping. Paula's rigid beliefs about justice and loyalty (which don't always conform to society's rules), and her brusque and profane manner of standing up for herself, make her an extremely enjoyable character. As Paula struggles to untangle her mother's legends from the facts and is forced to confront many memories from her childhood in a new light, readers will eagerly root for her to solve the mystery Kai has left behind.

Jackson's writing is elaborate, pointed and poetic, and it's easy to imagine the dialogue being drawled over a glass of sweet tea. Her ability to weave such disparate themes as Indian gods, ugly divorces, small-time pot growers and racial injustice in the South into a comprehensive and beautiful narrative is truly impressive. The Opposite of Everyone is a book to be devoured quickly, and then reread and savored.

Even though it was one of the first books I finished this year, I can guarantee The Opposite of Everyone will make my best of 2016 list! And I need to make time to read some more of Joshilyn Jackson's books!

Are YOU a Joshilyn Jackson fan?

I originally wrote most of this review for Shelf Awareness.