Someone Else's Love Story

Author: 
Jackson, Joshilyn

For single mom Shandi Pierce, life is a juggling act. She's finishing college, raising her delightful son Nathan, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced parents. She's got enough to deal with before she gets caught in the middle of a stickup in a gas station and falls in love with a man named William Ashe when he steps between the armed robber and her son to shield him from danger.

Shandi doesn't know that William has his own baggage. When he looked down the barrel of the gun in the gas station he believed it was destiny: it's been exactly one year since a tragic act of physics shattered his universe. But William doesn't define destiny the way other people do—to him destiny is about choice.

Now, William and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head-on, making choices that will reveal unexpected truths about love, life, and the world they think they know. (From the publisher.)

Discussion Guide: 

1. What does the title tell you about the story this story? What do we learn from the first line? How does the book's opening set the stage for the events that follow?

2. "That afternoon in the Circle K, I deserved to know, right off, that I had landed bang in the middle of a love story. Especially since it wasn't—it isn't—it could never be, my own. " Why could this story never be Shandi's? If it's not hers, than whose love story is it?

3. Everyone sees William as a hero for his acts during the robbery. How does William answer this? Would you call it brave? Why did Shandi have such faith that William would save them?

4. Destiny and choice are major themes in the novel. What does destiny mean to William? What about Shandi?

5. Shandi and Walcott have known each other forever. Discuss their relationship. How is it transformed? Why do we often miss the obvious in our lives?

6. How do the religious references sprinkled through the story—Natty's virgin birth for example—add a deeper level of flavor and meaning to the book?

7. Why is William angry with Bridget and not her "imaginary God"? When bad things happen most people blame God. Why? Why doesn't William?

8. Think about the novel's structure. The story moves back in forth in time between Shandi and Williams's pasts and their present. How does this form of storytelling shape your reading experience and comprehension of events as they unfold? How would the story be different if it began with William instead of Shandi?

9. How does their meeting change both William and Shandi? Would you call their meeting fate or destiny or maybe a miracle? "It isn't every day he meets a girl who killed a miracle," William thinks when he agrees to help Shandi. Why does her having "killed" a miracle so intrigue him?

10. How do each of these characters' certainties and beliefs change when they are confronted by unexpected circumstances—the robbery, the fireworks, the DNA results, meeting Natty's father for example?

11. The possibility of goodness and forgiveness are also themes in the book. Talk about how they are demonstrated in various characters' lives and experiences.

12. How many different kind of love stories are in the book? How do they all intertwine?

13. We're you surprised at the ending? Was it exactly what should happen for all the characters?
(Questions issued by the publisher.)