Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

Monday, February 8, 2016

2016 Book 40: THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYONE by Joshilyn Jackson

The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson 
ISBN: 9780062105684 (hardback)
ISBN: 9780062105707 (ebook)
ASIN: B00RTL4HWA (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 16, 2016 
Publisher: William Morrow


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 re-invent their history as they roved. But everything, including Paula's birthname Kali Jai, changed when she told a story of her own—one that landed Kai in prison and Paula in foster care. 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 cryptic letter. "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.  

Paula Vauss was born in a juvenile detention center to her teenaged mother, Karen "Kai" Vauss. To say that Paula and Kai had a strange relationship is a major understatement. As an adult, Paula's relationship with her mother consists of sending a monthly check to her mother's postal box. Paula's life is thrown upside down when her last check is returned with a somewhat twisted karmic message in The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson.

Paula Jane Vauss was named Kali Jai by her mother, but her maternal grandparents changed her name when completing her birth certificate. Paula knows her mother is a tad bit strange, but she has no idea about her paternity other than providing her skin color and somewhat distinctive eye-shape. Growing up with Kai was different, in that Paula never knew what their last names would be or what story her mother would create for their backstory. Paula doesn't hate her mother, but she's quite sure her mother is glad she's no longer an active part of her life. In an effort to pay off the guilt she feels for one childish act of anger, Paula has spent most of her adult life sending her mother money. After receiving a note with her last check stating that her mother is dying and no longer requires her money, Paula is somewhat relieved. That relief quickly turns to worry and, in turn, causes months of anxiety and panic attacks. The panic attacks lessen somewhat when she is confronted with a half-sibling she never knew about, a brother born while her mother was in prison and given up for adoption. Just as she's getting used to the idea of one half-sibling, she uncovers information that she may have another half-sibling. Where is this youngest sibling and where and when did Kai actually die? Can the lone wolf, diva lawyer become a loving and caring older sister? Does she even want to?

If you follow most of my reviews, you know that I generally read a book in one day and sometimes in one sitting. Well, I flew through The Opposite of Everyone in one sitting over a span of just a few hours (yes, it was just that good). Ms. Jackson has a unique way of storytelling that grabbed this reader after only a few pages into the book and I reluctantly put it down only after reading the last page. I enjoyed the way Paula's story was told, with what can only be described as flashbacks to provide the backstory. Paula is a kick-ass diva lawyer and even that is spotlighted with a few cases throughout the story. She has a sort of, kind of, almost, maybe, not-quite love affair going on with her private investigator, Zachary Birdwine. All of the characters are distinctive, eccentric, and wholly believable, as well as relatable. Mixed into this tale of one woman's family and a search for love and forgiveness are the Hindu myths of Kali, Ganesh, and Hanuman. You wouldn't think a Southern fiction story mixed with Hindu myths would work, but Ms. Jackson doesn't just make it work, she has it make perfect sense. If you enjoy stories with quirky, flawed characters or are simply looking to read a great story, then you'll definitely want to grab a copy of The Opposite of Everyone. Did I enjoy The Opposite of Everyone? Yes, I did and I'll have to wait a few weeks before I read it again (told you, it is that good).

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


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