Renée Carlino is one of our favorite authors, and we are so excited to be able to bring you this excerpt from Swear on This Life in addition to our thoughts on the book. First, you know the drill–here’s the 411 on Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino:
***About the Book***Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino
Also by this author: Lucian Divine
Published by Atria Books on August 9, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Friends to More, New Adult, Second Chance Romance, Small Town Romance
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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?
During the winter we pretended our way through the classics, read every popular kid’s book and by spring of our sixth grade year, the spring of all the rain, we were ready to be outside and explore again. There was a creek about half a mile back from our houses, past the tree line. Because of all the rain that year, it had become more of a river with the strongest currents right behind where we lived. Every adult warned us to be careful, even my dead-beat dad would say, “You better use that big brain of yours and stay out of the creek. You want to go swimming, you can go to the pool in town.”
Funny he would say that because the community pool was a seven-mile bike ride and it cost three dollars to get in. There was no way I was going unless Leila, Jax’s mom gave us a ride and even then, I would have to borrow the money to get in. Frankly, going to the town pool was a pipe dream. It became a myth to us, a fantasy like Disneyland or Europe. Jax and I would try to imagine what it was like to go there.
“I bet they sell popsicles and popcorn and they probably have clowns too,” I said.
Keep Reading the Excerpt for Swear on This Life
Keep Reading the Excerpt for Swear on This Life
It was a warm day; we had made a picnic in the weeds. I laid out my Toy Story sleeping bag I’d had from when I was a kid. Jax brought a jar of applesauce and I brought Fun Dip that my dad had bought me at the 7-11. We mixed the fun dip into the jar and took turns eating spoonfuls.
“Community pools don’t have clowns, genius.”
“How do you know?” I said.
“Because I just do.”
“I bet there’s a high dive, like fifty feet in the air.”
“Do you know how high fifty feet is? You would die hitting the water. The impact would kill you.”
“You’re such a know-it-all, Jackson. Why can’t you let a girl dream? We’re never going to that pool because no one will ever take us, plus, it costs money, and last time I checked you weren’t making any.”
He lay back on the blanket and propped his hands behind his head and closed his eyes. “I’m not a know-it-all, I just have cable. And as soon as I turn sixteen, I’m getting a job. I’ll pay for us to go to the pool. You’ll see, it’s just a big hole with water in it.”
I never really stared at him until that day. His eyes were closed so I took the time to inspect every inch of him. I was so curious about his body. My own body was changing and I was terrified of it. Jax was getting taller. He was going to be tall like his father, but he looked more like his mother in coloring and features. Jax’s mom was French, so they had this creamy skin that looked sun-kissed year around and his brown hair and brown eyes had streams of gold running throughout it. He was letting his hair grow longer because he’d been watching some show on TV that took place in California. He said everyone in California had long hair.
I was trying to grow my own unruly, brown locks out. I don’t know why, I always had it in a braid. Maybe because I thought I would go to California with Jax one day. We both yearned for more than weeds and corn. All the books gave us those silly ideas and filled our heads with things that might never be.
I lay down beside him and stared directly into the sun. He turned on his side and propped his head on his elbow.
“You’ll go blind doing that,” he said in a low voice.
“Leave me alone.”
“Why are you in such a bad mood? You PMSing?”
“What do you know about it?”
“I doubt that and even if I were, it’s beyond rude to talk to me about it.” I hadn’t started my period yet but I wasn’t going to tell him that.
***About Renée Carlino***
Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women’s novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher’s Weekly. 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 project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate.
Kassiah: Renée Carlino is the queen at expertly weaving the past and the present and continues to do so in fresh new ways. Swear on This Life is no exception as she shines the light on the characters’ journeys, viewed through a bestselling novel that’s sweeping the literary world.
Emiline is simply existing–an adjunct professor in a comfortable but passionless relationship, she doesn’t really focus on her life’s ambition, which is writing. Her BFF gives her a book that everyone is talking about from a debut author that no one knows. Emiline is stunned when she finds out that the book is about her and her life with former best friend and soul mate, Jace. As Emiline navigates through reading the best-selling novel, All the Roads Between, we get flashbacks of their past–how they met, how they fell in love, and how it all fell apart. We also see Emiline’s reactions to everything and the creative liberties Jace took with their past. Emiline decides she has to see Jace face to face, so she goes to a signing of his and is surprised by his reaction.
“Em, you had to have known I was gonna write this book someday.”
“No.” I shook my head. “I didn’t.”
“I told you I would find you, didn’t I?”
As Emiline takes a look at her past–and present–through the words of this book, she has to come to terms with where she’s been and what she wants out of life. Will Jace play a part in her future?
Renée Carlino is one of my favorite authors and certainly one of the most underappreciated in my opinion. She consistently brings all of the feels, and I was beyond excited when I got an advanced copy of this book.
I absolutely love the way this story was told, the present in Emiline’s point of view and reading the novel giving us the past. I loved the early sparks (and heartaches) between her and Jace.
“It’s really hard to pay attention in class when you’re always playing with your hair in front of me.” He squeezed my hand and smiled. Something about the way he was touching me felt different from all the other times.
“You don’t seem to have a problem getting all the answers right.”
“I’m just saying. I wanted to lick the back of your neck today.”
All thoughout the story, we are wondering what could have happened to make these two ever go their separate ways.
“Sometimes people who love us make us do hard things because it’s what’s right.”
I can’t say enough about how emotional and touching this story is. I was enamored from the very beginning and couldn’t put it down. I was so proud of Em and the journey her character takes.
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.
There was one thing in particular that I didn’t like, and that’s Trevor, or more specifically, Em’s relationship with him. I understand that Em had been with him for seven years, and I also get that in some ways you never really get over your first love. I can’t even imagine going through what they went through together. But as far as Trevor goes, I didn’t like how it was wrapped up in a neat little bow. View Spoiler »I didn’t like that there was an out for Em where he was concerned. The pills, the assholery. The telling him to see about the spark. I wanted her to outright choose Jace. « Hide Spoiler I loved everything else. The emotions. The characters. The way the story was told. I loved the unrelenting connection between Em and Jace.
I was still afraid that if Jase and I finally gave in to the force driving us togeher, we would crash into each other so hard that we’d break apart into a million pieces, impossible to put back together.
I know I haven’t gone on and on about him here, but I seriously loved Jace. And when I got to the end of All the Roads Between, I had legit tears. I’m tearing up just thinking about it now, weeks after reading it. It’s beautiful.
Sparks flying, deeply emotional and riveting, Swear on This Life is just another reason to cement my undying love for Renée Carlino and everything she writes. This book will make you laugh, cry, and swoon. It’s definitely one of my favorites.