Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Available On: Amazon

Maybe In Another Life is a delightful novel penned by best-selling author Taylor Jenkins Reid. The novel explores the profound question of whether destiny is a fixed path or if life’s outcome is a product of the choices we make.

The book centres around the protagonist, Hannah Martin, a 29-year-old woman who has moved around frequently and struggled to find her place in life. The story’s unique structure allows us to see two parallel universes that unfold after Hannah makes a seemingly mundane choice: whether to leave a bar with her old boyfriend or to go home with her best friend.

Reid ingeniously structures the book to alternate between these two realities, each chapter shifting from one life to the other. This approach gives readers a fascinating view into how one single decision can drastically change the course of our lives. It’s a well-executed exploration of the ‘what if’ concept that often plagues the human mind.

The characters in the book are brilliantly developed, with Hannah as a flawed but relatable protagonist. Her journey through both life scenarios is heart-wrenching and hopeful in equal measure. The supporting characters, particularly Hannah’s best friend Gabby, are also richly drawn and add depth to the story.

Thought-Provoking Themes

One of Reid’s triumphs in Maybe In Another Life is her exploration of themes such as fate, friendship, and love. The prose is both captivating and thought-provoking, raising intriguing questions about destiny and the choices we make.

However, the book may not appeal to everyone. Some readers might find the parallel life concept confusing, while others may feel that certain plot events are too coincidental. However, those willing to suspend their disbelief will be rewarded with a poignant and compelling narrative.

Overall, Maybe In Another Life is a deeply engaging exploration of life’s possibilities and the impact of our choices. It’s a thought-provoking read that’s likely to linger in your thoughts long after you’ve turned the final page.

I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary fiction and anyone interested in thought-provoking novels about fate and the road not taken. It’s a solid 4 out of 5 stars for its unique storytelling approach, well-developed characters, and the emotional depth of its narrative.

The Skilfully Handles LGBTQ Subplot

Maybe In Another Life touches on LGBTQ+ themes as well, particularly through the character of Gabby, Hannah’s best friend. In one of the realities, Gabby explores her sexual orientation and enters into a same-sex relationship. This subplot is handled with sensitivity and respect, offering a nuanced portrayal of Gabby’s journey towards self-discovery.

Reid carefully presents the challenges and prejudices Gabby faces, allowing for a meaningful exploration of societal reactions to non-heteronormative relationships. This aspect adds another layer of complexity to the novel’s already rich tapestry of themes, as it highlights the importance of acceptance, both from society and within oneself.

Furthermore, the LGBTQ+ subplot underscores the book’s overarching theme of life’s unpredictability and the transformative power of personal choice. It prompts readers to consider the various ways our decisions can impact our identity and personal growth.

Reid’s decision to incorporate a LGBTQ+ narrative, and her careful handling of the subject matter, contributes to the overall depth and inclusivity of Maybe In Another Life. This makes the novel not only a captivating read, but also a significant contribution to contemporary literature’s representation of diverse experiences and identities.

The Fantastical And The Ordinary

The use of speculative devices, such as alternate realities, in an otherwise realistic narrative can provide an intriguing depth to the storytelling. Taylor Jenkins Reid masterfully showcases this in Maybe In Another Life, using the trope of alternate realities to delve into the ‘what ifs’ that often pervade our thoughts about our own life choices. What makes this book particularly compelling is how grounded it remains in the real world, with the alternate reality serving as a single, fantastical element that spices up an otherwise realistic narrative.

As a fellow writer I find Reid’s approach particularly inspiring, in much the same way I adored The Time Traveller’s Wife for having a normal world with a character who just happened to be able to travel through time, and had no control over when he jumped. Much like Reid, I have a personal affinity for stories that introduce a singular, fantastical element into an otherwise real-world setting. It’s a format that opens up fresh avenues to explore life’s myriad possibilities and poses thought-provoking questions to readers, while simultaneously offering an intriguing and imaginative reading experience.

This unique blend of realism and fantasy is something that I am currently exploring in my own work-in-progress novel (very tentatively titled The Cat’s Paw…don’t hold me to that, it’s likely to change!). The narrative introduces a djinn into an otherwise ordinary setting, and our protagonist is granted a ‘do-over’ wish after saving the djinn’s life. This wish enables her to travel back to her teens, a chance to dodge life’s major tragedies that once befell her and to realize the aspirations that had long since passed her by.

Reid’s artful use of a single fantastical element in Maybe In Another Life offers a creative way to scrutinize life’s big questions and themes. By using this technique, writers can engage readers in a deep reflection of their own lives, all while keeping them captivated in a woven tapestry of realism and fantasy. The use of speculative devices in otherwise realistic fiction is a testament to the vast expanse of creative exploration available to writers and readers alike.

What Genre Is Maybe in Another Life

This quirky novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid falls under the genre of contemporary fiction. More specifically, it can be categorised as women’s fiction, given its focus on the experiences and emotional growth of its female protagonist. The novel’s exploration of romantic relationships and friendship, as well as its themes of self-discovery and destiny, further align it with the romance and chick-lit subgenres. Additionally, the book’s unique structure, which presents two parallel narratives based on different choices, introduces elements of speculative fiction.

How Spicy Is The Book?

Spice Rating: 🌶️🌶️

Maybe In Another Life is not typically categorised as a ‘spicy’ book. The novel does delve into romantic relationships and there are some intimate scenes, but they are usually handled with a more subtle and gentle approach rather than explicit or overly detailed descriptions. The focus of the book is more on the emotional connections, personal growth, and the impact of choices on life’s path, rather than on the physical or sensual aspects of the relationships. If you’re looking for a novel with high levels of steamy romance or erotic content, this may not be the best choice. However, if you’re interested in a thoughtful, character-driven story with elements of romance, this book could be a great pick.

Given its subtle and gentle approach to intimate scenes, it rates around a 2 out of 5 on a spiciness scale, with 1 being the least spicy and 5 being the most. The book contains some romantic elements, but they’re not the main focus of the narrative and aren’t described in explicit detail. The emphasis in this novel is more on the emotional depth and growth of the characters, as well as exploring the impact of different choices on their lives.

What Romance Tropes Are In Maybe In Another Life?

Taylor Jenkins Reid explores a few common tropes found within the romance genre:

Second Chance Romance

In one timeline, Hannah reconnects with her high school boyfriend, Ethan, offering them both a second chance at love. This trope is often associated with nostalgia, forgiveness, and personal growth.

Love Triangle

There’s a bit of a love triangle situation with Hannah, Ethan, and another potential love interest. This adds to the tension and indecision in Hannah’s life.

Friends to Lovers

In the other timeline, Hannah ends up forming a romantic relationship with someone who initially was just a friend. This trope explores the transition from platonic to romantic love.

Parallel Universes/Alternate Realities

Though not exclusive to the romance genre, this trope is used in the novel to explore the “what if” of Hannah’s love life and overall personal journey. Each choice she makes results in a vastly different life and romantic outcome.


A less conventional but equally important trope in this book is the journey towards self-love and acceptance. This ties in with Hannah’s overall character development as she navigates the challenges in her life.

While Reid uses these familiar romance tropes, she does so in a way that feels fresh and original, largely due to the novel’s unique structure and its thoughtful exploration of life’s possibilities based on the choices we make.