The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson
Published by: William Morrow
Published on: February 16, 2016
Page Count: 304 pages
Genre: Southern Fiction
My Reading Format: Advanced reader copy sent to me by the publisher as a prize for winning a contest
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audiobook
Summary from the Publisher:
Born in Alabama, Paula Vauss spent the first decade of her life on the road with her free-spirited young mother, Kai, an itinerant storyteller who blended Hindu mythology with southern oral tradition to reinvent their history as they roved. But everything, including Paula’s birth name, Kali Jai, changed when she told a story of her own—one that landed Kai in prison and Paula in foster care. With the two of them separated, each holding her own secrets, the intense bond they once shared was fractured.
These days, Paula has reincarnated herself as a tough-as-nails divorce attorney with a successful practice in Atlanta. While she hasn’t seen Kai in fifteen years, she’s still making payments on that karmic debt—until the day her last check is returned in the mail, along with a mystifying note: “I am going on a journey, Kali. I am going back to my beginning; death is not the end. You will be the end. We will meet again, and there will be new stories. You know how Karma works.”
Then Kai’s most treasured secret literally lands on Paula’s doorstep, throwing her life into chaos and transforming her from only child to older sister. Desperate to find her mother before it’s too late, Paula sets off on a journey of discovery that will take her back to the past and into the deepest recesses of her heart. With the help of her ex-lover Birdwine, an intrepid and emotionally volatile private eye who still carries a torch for her, this brilliant woman, an expert at wrecking families, now has to figure out how to put one back together—her own.
The Opposite of Everyone is a story about story itself, how the tales we tell connect us, break us, and define us, and how the endings and beginnings we choose can destroy us . . . and make us whole. Laced with sharp humor and poignant insight, it is beloved New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson at her very best.
I love Joshilyn Jackson. Everything she’s written has charmed me. While I didn’t listen to The Opposite of Everyone, she is one of the few authors who narrate their books better than anyone else can. I was thrilled when I won an advance copy of this book at the beginning of the year. I was right to be thrilled. With the possible exception of Gods in Alabama (it’s been so long since I’ve read it, but it’s amazing in my memory), The Opposite of Everyone is Jackson’s best yet.
It isn’t very often that I laugh out loud while I’m reading. Jackson had me laughing within pages. I knew very quickly that this book was going to be my kind of ride. Paula is a broken, lovely, unique, and exasperating woman. As you learn more about her childhood, she could not be anyone but who she is. Jackson writes the best mother/daughter relationships out there and The Opposite of Everyone is no exception. Kai was very young when Paula was born and she grew up within Kai’s self-discovery and influenced the way that Paula views both life and relationships. While not raised in a stable environment, Paula has regrets of her own. Discovering how this all came together was both touching and pure fun.
I can sum up my feelings about The Opposite of Everyone in one word: Fanfreakingtastic! This book was just what I needed to read this winter. It was so good that it started my book funk. It was worth it. Reading one book like that a year is better than reading countless good books. I won a copy of this book through a contest sponsored by the publisher. For the most part, I’d stopped reading pitches or accepting review copies. Despite the long book funk that followed, I very much credit this book for my resurgence of late as a book blogger as well as a reader who has started to take chances with review copies. I’ve found my stride again. That may be too much credit for one book, but The Opposite of Everyone changed the tides for me and I am very thankful.
Bottom line: Joshilyn Jackson cannot be beat for quirky, heartfelt Southern fiction. You can count on her for a great read every time.