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?
When Emiline finds out that her entire past has been published in a critically acclaimed debut, she's both astonished and anguished. Mainly because the only person who could have written the story of her life is her long-lost love, Jason. The problem is, she hasn't spoken to Jason in over a decade and doesn't know what to make of this story he's created for her.
"If you can surrender to the idea that there might be a plan, instead of reducing every magical moment to a coincidence, then love will find you. It found me."
Emiline yearns to write a story but she is lost -- what can she write about when her past experiences are off-limits? What can you do when "writing what you know" is off the table? Carlino's writing will transport you to the present life of Emiline and Jason, as well as the past life that no one was ever supposed to relive.
"We didn't know it at the time, but we were lovesick. Our innocence was beautiful, impossible to capture again, impossible to re-create."
Jason has written the past that Emiline has tried so hard to leave behind – all of her truths are out in the world and it is both freeing and suffocating. But the biggest question Emiline has is this: why would Jason reach out to Emiline through a story that is laced with fiction?
"The past would only fester and eat away at us if we tried to hold on to it too tightly."
SWEAR ON THIS LIFE is a story about growing in love, recognizing second chances when you come across them, and seeking redemption. It's about figuring yourself out before being able to allow love in. Moreover, it’s about the beauty of words and the effect they can have on a person.
"We can't always control our circumstances, who our parents are, where we live, or how much money we make, but in those rare moments when we can shape our fate, when we do have the power to make our own happiness, we can't be too scared to do it."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Renée Carlino is the author of Sweet Thing, Nowhere But Here, After the Rain, and Before We Were Strangers. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog, June. When she's not at the beach with her boys or working on her next book, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate.
SWEAR ON THIS LIFE by Renee Carlino
Atria Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9781501105791 | On sale: | 320 pages | $15.00
eBook: Atria Books | ISBN: 9781501105807 | On sale: | 320 pages | $7.99