Book Review : Swear On This Life by Renee Carlino

Date Read: January 18, 2017

Publisher: Atria Books

Number of Pages: 320 pages (read via EBOOK)


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?

[Blurb from Goodreads.]


I don’t know where to begin. I never really intended to read this book, it has been sitting on my shelf (electronic shelf, hehehe) for the longest time and the all of a sudden I just decided that I wanted to read something and I stumbled upon Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino and up to this moment, I cannot get over this book.

I just have to get this out in the air, YES, it is like reading a book within a book. At the beginning, I was having a hard time catching up because of the transition from Emiline’s perspective to Emerson’s, but the longer you soak into all that goodness, you get used to it and actually enjoy the difference of the two. It was a very  unique concept that made me wish that I could read more books just like this one. The story really stood out because in my opinion, there was no better way to tell such a story than how the author did.

The love story was kind’a predictable; I knew that somehow the main characters would meet again and would rekindle their lost relationship however tt’s not about the one who got away like you would expect it to be. It’s about how love could be present even in the eyes of two childhood friends; what started of as childish acts turned into something beautiful and meaningful. And they way it ended? It was life a breathe of fresh air, it felt as if there was no better way to end such a simple and complicated story.

“You’re my best friend.” I said to him.
“I’m so in love with you.” His eyes were pleading.

But what struck me most was that how it did not mainly focus on the love story itself.The focus of it all was finding one’s self, and the only way to do that is to go back where it all started. Emiline was not proud of her past, she was very clear about this. She wanted to focus on her life now and forget everything that happened to her when she was younger and  leaving her with no choice but to close all doors of her past, including Jason, the love of her life.

“I thought loving someone meant letting go, but by the time I learned that loving someone means fighting for them too, it was too late.”

Plus each of the minor characters played a huge role and how everything made sense in the end. It’s like one big closure for Emiline. I couldn’t help but shed a few tears when Emiline *SPOILER ALERT* reconciled with his father. The minor characters helped develop Emeline and Jason’s character too. I loved Cara, Emeline’s best friend, Emeline’s lesbian aunts who crack me up and even Trevor. Each character was a specific shade of  color in the story.

Swear On This Life teaches us that one does not simply fight fate. If unforunate things are happening to you right now and it brings out a different side of you that you don’t want others to witness, let it be. It’s just the cliche saying, everything happens for a reason. Swear on This Life was merely a story of a boy and a girl, how life tested them in every way imaginable and how it’s never too late for second chances.

Rating: stars