Review: Swear On This Life by Renee Carlino

Review:  Swear On This Life by Renee CarlinoSwear On This Life by Renee Carlino
Published by Atria Books August 9, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
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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?

Aw, man. “Before We Were Strangers” was a TOP top read for me last year. So when I heard Swear On This Life was coming out, I was so excited. All the early reviews were raving about how amazing and life changing the story was.  I’ve read Carlino before, so I know how much her stories can settle deep inside you and consume your mind for days and weeks.

But for me, it fell a bit flat. I loved the premise of a novel being told inside the novel, and actually, the inside story was the only part I enjoyed. I liked those characters. I liked their story. They were young, and dealt really hard cards, and even in the toughest of times, they tried their hardest to prevail.  They loved when they were never even showed what love was.  They tried for each other when no one had ever put effort into them.  

But the two real characters? I really disliked them. Neither seemed to have any redeeming qualities at all. I couldn’t connect with them and found myself wanting them to stop talking and to go back to reading the “other book”.

Plus… when they reunited? And the ending? Both so anti-climatic it was almost painful. So much build up, so much angst and tension and excitement.. and both of those parts of the book were quite unsatisfactory.  I wanted  their happiness and success so bad I could taste it, but neither were really celebrated.

The reviews are really amazing for the book, so I’m probably one of the only readers feeling a bit underwhelmed. So, if you like second-chance romances, especially about kids on the wrong side of the tracks who find themselves later in life… definitely give it a try. Renee Carlino is a fantastic writer, seriously. I just didn’t connect with this specific set of characters.

*2.5-3 stars*


  • Betül

    Great review!!


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