The Opposite Of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson – 352 pages
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. 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.
My Review: 3 stars
The Opposite Of Everyone is classic chick-lit southern fiction. This story revolves around a protagonist turned hard-ass as a by-product of her very dysfunctional upbringing. The cover didn’t work for me most specifically due to the girl pictured and the title I found lacking meaning to the story. There’s usually a moment when the reader can say, “Aha, now I get the title,” but not in this story!
Her mom was a pot-smoking hippie who changed her name and personality to fit the man of the month. Thus, Paula became skilled at being who the mom needed her to be for each man/city change. As a survivor of the “system” we learn about Paula’s time there while separated from her mom and what happened that keeps her plagued by guilt.
Personally, I liked the adult storyline about Paula better than her childhood memories, as the present felt more honest. The author is good with dialogue and her banter with her “ex” lover was great. Overall, this is a transformational story as the protagonist becomes a person willing to be loved that finds a way to assuage her guilt. This is a light book that’s perfect for the beach or a quick escape. It was chosen as a book club read, but I’m not sure there’ll be any deep discussions arising from this novel.
Quotes I liked:
The world was full of us, the leftovers and the leavers, the bereaved and the broken.”