Publisher: Atria Books
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?
Boy, do I ever have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, I absolutely hated the writing. On the other hand, I loved the idea of the story. Swear on This Life had me rolling my eyes and crying and has left me utterly confused.
The writing is juvenile at best. It’s unfortunate because Carlino has the potential for a great story, but the writing seeps into every aspect of the novel. The characters are supposed to be in their mid to late twenties, but come off as immature teenagers. From their actions, thoughts, and dialogue everything about them screams adolescent.
I also disliked the writing of the book within the story. It read like an unedited draft screaming to be defaced with a red pen. The story has so much potential, but the writing ultimately ruins it.
By the end of the novel I was a blubbery mess of tears. Despite the horrible writing, I connected with the characters in the book within the novel and their tragic ending, depending on how you see it. I really wanted to like this story, so that’s probably why I’m rating it three stars instead of two.
Hopefully this isn’t Carlino’s standard level of writing because I want to give her one more chance.
Overall, Swear on This Life has the potential to be a great romance novel but is ultimately a failure because of the juvenile writing that ruins everything good going for the novel.