Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: "Why Can't I Be You" by Allie Larkin

All her life Jenny Shaw has been trying to blend into the background. The daughter of an alcoholic, manipulative mother, Jenny thinks that she has finally found happiness with boyfriend Deagan and plans to move in with him in a few months when her lease expires.

Chosen to attend a business conference in place of her boss, Jenny is looking forward to the conference followed by a vacation with Deagan. When Deagan breaks up with her en route to the airport Jenny is floored and spends her flight in tears. Arriving at the hotel where the conference is being held, someone mistakes her for a woman named Jessie. Desperate to be anyone but herself Jenny pretends to be this Jessie woman but has no idea how much she will come to care about the people that she is fooling.

What drew me initially to Why Can't I Be You was the plot. How many people haven't wished at one time or another that they could live someone else's life? Even in passing? Sometimes when I'm on a long road trip and it's dark I peek at the houses that I'm passing and imagine what it would be like to live there, to live an entirely different life. I'm lucky because I'm happy with my current life and circumstances and am only looking out of curiosity but in this story Jenny feels trapped in her life and she can only imagine living a life in which she is content. When she is mistaken for a long-lost friend at a high school reunion Jenny sees her chance to become someone else and she runs with it, telling herself that it's only for a short time and that she's not really hurting anyone.

What she's not counting on is how much she will enjoy this alternate life. Suddenly she has old friends from high school and people who care about her. She has everything that she has ever wanted and she's not sure that she can give it up.

I really loved the supporting characters in this story. There were times when the group seemed too good to be true, but then the flaws that were underneath the surface became evident and I appreciated the group as a whole more. I also liked the ending- it was a great ending, but not one where every loose end was tied up neatly. I love a happy ending but I don't want everything to be resolved.

Why I Can't Be You examined the themes of identity and belonging. I wanted Jenny/Jessie to have a happy ending, and I hoped that she would be able to find a path for herself that was a happy medium of who she was and who she wanted to be. I felt personally invested in the story and the characters and I really enjoyed it. Allie Larkin's second novel will give readers a lot to think about and discuss and I thank the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.


  1. Sounds good. I enjoyed Larkin's first book (Stay) so much I know I'll read this at some point.

    1. I liked this one even better than "Stay, and I loved "Stay"!!

  2. Sounds like a Sophie Kinsella type of story, and that is a compliment.
    Quite possibly the ugliest couch ever on that cover!

    1. Hahaha, my copy was a digital ARC so I didn't check out the cover, but you're right about the couch!!