Review: Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino

My Thoughts

A beautifully written second chance romance
that stays with you long after you’re done.

5stars

Synopsis

Aug-09From USA TODAY bestselling author Renée Carlino (Before We Were Strangers), a warm and witty novel about a struggling writer who must come to grips with her past, present, and future after she discovers that she’s the inspiration for a pseudonymously published bestselling novel.

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?

My Review

“I love you, Emiline. I loved you before I even knew what it meant.”

Proving that friendship and love can be the light we need in the darkest of times,  Renée Carlino’s Swear on this Life delivers a deeply felt story of two kids who dreamed of a better life. Carlino’s taut storytelling bleeds emotion and heartbreak as the narrative takes us on a journey from a bumpy school bus ride in rural Ohio to an unexpected reunion between adults in San Diego.

Emiline and Jase’s story moved me to tears. The hardships they endured daily, the constant string of disappointments, the poverty on which they subsisted while living in their small homes at the end of a long dirt road… it was enough to break anyone and certainly enough to keep Emiline from sharing that part of herself with anyone, including her boyfriend.

So when she finds herself reading pages from her childhood, from a new bestseller written by a mysterious author, J. Colby… she knows exactly who it is.

“Our story is great. Maybe not all the other shit, but the story of us is perfect, Em.”

The boy who’d been her best friend. The boy she’d loved. The boy who held her hand while they both survived some of the worst life had to offer. It had to be Jase—the boy who’d sworn they’d always be together… and lied.

“These were the details of my own life. Emerson was none other than me. And Jax? He was most definitely Jason Culbertson, the boy next door who had once been my everything… my first. The same person I hadn’t talked to or seen in over a decade.”

Suddenly, Em finds herself pulled into the pain of her past all over again, his words opening familiar wounds. Worse yet, feelings that had never dissipated through the years re-emerge.

“It’s impossible to really hate someone if you don’t love them at least a little.”

Before long, however, she realizes that the pages of this book may hold answers that could explain their surprising separation, but was she really prepared to discover the truth? And could she see him, after twelve years, and walk away without falling apart?

Their story will take you on a journey rife with tension, surprises and tears. I’ve come to realize that Renée Carlino is a master when it comes to emotional second chance romances that burrow deep and stay with you long after you’re done. This novel was an immediate addition to my favorites shelf and one I know so many of you will cherish and love.

“I swear to god on your life and my own that I love you and trust you. And that I’ll love you forever.”

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