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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Opposite of Everyone

ISBN: 006210568X

Publisher: William and Morrow

Publication Date: 2/16/2016

Format: Other

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

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. 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 cryptic letter. “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.

My Review

Whether you are a first timer or an avid fan of sassy, Joshilyn Jackson (I happen to be the latter, having read all her books), you can expect several things: Southern, witty, dysfunctional, emotional, out-of-the box, strong characterization and an unstoppable female main character. Jackson never fails to tackle and deliver highly-charged topics, infused with enough wit, sarcasm, and humor, to balance the dark heavy themes. "No one does Southern better." THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYONE, Jackson’s seventh novel--delves into the life of Paula Vauss, the gal we met in Someone Else’s Love Story (highly recommend). Jackson crosses from Southern Gothic into Hindu mythology-- life of a hippie, going inside foster care, and the prison system—strong emotions, and Jackson’s own unique trademark style. Where one woman finds the "opposite of everyone" may not be the way to live, after all. As Jackson mentions in an online interview… A Conversation with Joshilyn Jackson Art Atlanta, Paula deserved a story of her own. Readers, here you have it -- and hopefully more to come from Paula! Paula is now a successful divorce attorney living in a posh midtown condo in Atlanta. She is ruthless, smart, and witty. She has an ex-boyfriend and former lover (now a PI)— alcoholic Zach Birdwine; she likes to stalk and flirt with him as much as possible. He is best at what he does and she needs him to work a case for her. However, with the hundreds of emails she sends him, it is difficult for him to wade through them to realize she needs him for a case—not for something more. When she offers to pay him more for a case, he agrees. Paula has not had an easy life. Her childhood was rocky. She tries to put it out of her mind, most of the time until she writes her monthly check. She grew up with a woman, her mother, Kai; a free-spirited hippie type, quirky, a non-conformist, liberal counterculture, who went from one man to another, one town to another---telling all sorts of stories. (foreign to Kai’s parents). Kai wound up in prison, and each time she was released, Paula would fit her personality to revolve around her mothers. Re-invention time. Since many hippies of this time rejected mainstream organized religion in favor of a more personal spiritual experience, often drawing on indigenous and folk beliefs. If they adhered to mainstream faiths, hippies were likely to embrace Buddhism, Unitarian, Hinduism or Christianity - the Jesus Movement. As well as free love, and drugs. Kai followed the path, and Paula along for the ride. When Paula was eleven, something happened which would change the course of their lives—landing her mother, Kai in prison, and herself in foster care and group homes for years to come. Readers hear about the intense life and challenges inside the foster system, as well as prison. As the story opens, Paula is finally connecting with Zach. (this part is hilarious). She needs his help with a case (plus wants more). Each year, Paul writes a check to her estranged mother, to ease her guilt. Paula hasn’t seen her mother for fifteen years. Her mom always cashes it and life moves on to the next month. This time, it is returned with a note. The red flag goes up and Paula knows something is not right. Shortly thereafter, Julian shows up and knows about her mom. What do they have in common? Her past life comes to the surface, and readers learn the secrets, fears, horrors of the past. What is going on with her mother? Karma. She has to crack the clues of the mystery. From her divorce cases, to her half sibling, and the mysteries of her mom---an intense emotional journey. The Opposite of Everyone is about family--they are fragile. How they fall apart, memories, stories, and how they connect, shape and define our lives. You are going to love Paula—she is flawed and fascinating with some great one liners! Even though we hear from Kai, Paula carries the story—it is her story to tell. Paula fights for the underdog and even takes on pro bona cases to help other women. She is loyal. She has baggage. Those flaws provide her with plenty of insight to help others who cannot help themselves. First time or long time fans, you are going to love this one. If you enjoy the intense yet fragile mother-daughter relationships, topics of prison and foster care; recommend Amy Hatvany’s Somewhere Out There. Sometimes one mistake can alter our lives in so many ways with consequences. The ghosts of the past can define us---they can pull you down, destroy, or make us stronger. Powerful! A Southerner myself, living in Atlanta (Midtown & Buckhead) throughout my media career, enjoy revisiting the area through Jackson’s storytelling. As always, I choose to listen via audio, since Jackson narrates her own work, which is quite powerful ---as mentioned in my other reviews. Who else can deliver a performance better than the own author? Especially Jackson-- she has the "Southern thing" down.

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About the Author

New York Times Bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson lives in Decatur, Georgia with her husband, Scott, their two children, Sam and Maisy Jane, and two feckless, dog-shaped wastrels who answer to Bagel and Ansley, especially if you are holding bacon. They all serve an orange tom named Mango in various capacities.

She is the author of five novels: gods in Alabama, Between, Georgia, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, Backseat Saints, and A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages, won SIBA’s novel of the year, twice been a #1 Book Sense Pick, twice won Georgia Author of the Year, and twice been shortlisted for the Townsend prize.

A former actor, Jackson reads the audio versions of her novels; her work in this field has been nominated for the Audie Award, was selected by AudioFile Magazine for their best of the year list, has made the 2012 Audible All-Star list for highest listener ranks/reviews, and garnered three Listen Up Awards from Publisher’s Weekly. In 2012 Jackson began reading the audio versions of books written by other novelists, beginning with Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer.

Her new novel, Someone Else’s Love Story, is the #1 Indie Next Pick, an Amazon Best Book of the Month, an Okra Pick, the She Reads book club selection, a LibraryReads Selection, and A Bloggers Recommend Pick, so pretty much everyone on the planet is telling you to blow off your errands, take a long lunch, sneak away to a coffee house, and read it. Website Twitter

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