It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Joshilyn Jackson and I’ve loved each one of her six previous novels — some more than others, but she’s never written a bad or boring book, and some of hers are among my very favourite books ever. I loved her last novel, Someone Else’s Love Story, and The Opposite of Everyone, in which a minor character from the previous book takes centre stage, does not disappoint. I read it in less than twenty-four hours in the day after it was released, and stayed up till one a.m. on a work night finishing it, crying just a little bit as I reached the final pages.
Jackson excels in creating strong, memorable, deeply flawed heroines, and Paula Vauss, the tough-as-nails divorce lawyer who narrates her story in The Opposite of Everyone, may just be her best creation yet. Paula grew up poor and rootless, drifting from town to town with her mother, Kai, who wandered from boyfriend to boyfriend, providing her daughter with a treasurehouse of stories, a variety of inappropriate childhood experiences, and the rock-solid knowledge that she is loved. The bond between Kai and Paula is close, but then Paula makes an impulsive decision that severs it and changes both their lives. Now, decades later, she’s still haunted by that choice and the broken relationship.
Paula works hard to keep the past in the past, but it won’t stay there. Just as a mysterious message from her mother suggests that perhaps she can finally put their complicated history to rest, Paula discovers her family is bigger and more complex than she’d imagined. As a woman who’s devoted her professional life to breaking up families, she has to start stitching together her own … kicking and screaming at every step. This is a wonderful, funny, moving book and my only criticism is that it was over too soon.