• Hardcover: 304 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (February 16, 2016)
A fiercely independent divorce lawyer learns the power of family and connection when she receives a cryptic message from her estranged mother in this bittersweet, witty novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Someone Else’s Love Story and gods in Alabama—an emotionally resonant tale about the endurance of love and the power of stories to shape and transform our lives
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.
Buy, read, and discuss The Opposite of Everyone
Joshilyn Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of six previous novels, including gods in Alabama, A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, and Someone Else’s Love Story. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages. A former actor, she is also an award-winning audiobook narrator. She lives in Decatur, Georgia, with her husband and their two children.
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Joshilyn Jackson is one of those authors you can always trust to tell a complex and interesting story, and The Opposite of Everyone is no exception. It sucked me in so deeply, that I devoured it in a single afternoon, not even aware of the thunder and lightning outside my window until I was done.
I really liked Paula/Kali, the narrator and main character in this novel. I love the way she described her entry into the world with a mix of brutal candor and poignant humor, and I like the way we see her as an adult for the first time – a lawyer on a case – texting completely wrong things to her ex lover who is also her go-to man when she needs a professional snoop. Her acronym BANKs- a twist on DINKs – made me snort with laughter, but also nod my head, because who doesn’t recognize people like that?
That’s really one of Jackson’s strengths, I think: creating characters who are incredibly real, flawed, and sometimes even scarred, human beings. This was evident with Birdwine, the afore=mentioned ex-lover, and with Kai – Paula’s mother who we never spend much time with in person, but get to know through memories and stories nevertheless. I think if she had been more present, instead of being more of a Presence – it would have changed the dynamic of the novel a lot.
While it would be easy to dismiss Paula’s cases as fluff or filler, I believe they’re more telling than we realize, not only because it gives us a context for how Paula lives her life, but because the irony of a woman who specializes in divorce but who becomes the driving force in keeping her family together is perfect.
And that, right there, is the essence of Jackson: perfect stories told about incredibly imperfect people.
Don’t buy this book if you think it’s going to be another fluffy relationship novel. There’s a place for those stories, too, but this one, The Opposite of Everyone, has more depth.
DO buy this book if you like contemporary fiction about strong women who sometimes have weak moments.
Goes well with tandoori chicken, jasmine rice, and iced hibiscus tea.
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