Book review: Swear On This Life by Renee Carlino

Title: Swear On This Life23492533
Author: Renee Carlino
Daniela’s rating: +++5 stars

Daniela’s review

Ok picture one book you absolutely adore. One you want to read a thousand times, see it up in your bookshelves every day, and even hug. THAT’s this book. OH MY GOD.


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?

I’ve always been a fan of Renee Carlino. The first time I went to a book event, she was the very first author I ever met. I freaked out and fangirled like a little kid on their first trip to Disneyland, I was so nervous. So, the first time I read the blurb of this book I fangirled, yet again and I knew I had to have it, and I needed to have it as soon as I could, because seriously, how could you read it and NOT freak out about how good it sounds? The blurb itself sounded perfect to me. Then I read the book and OH MY GOD!!!! I’m still fangirling about it.

SWEAR ON THIS LIFE is a book within a book. Emiline is a writer. She has always surrounded herself with books. Her books and her imaginary worlds have always been a refuge to her not-so-good life with the whiskey monster and the mom who abandoned her. The only good thing she had while she was growing up was the cute and sweet boy who lived next door, but even that had to end at some point. Now, she’s all grown up and she’s still fighting her demons, or trying to hide from them, more like it, until one day, those damn demons find her through a book. A book that describes her life and everything she went through perfectly, even though she didn’t write it. A book that breaks down every single wall she’d put up through the years with every word she reads. A book that breaks her and helps her heal, all at the same time.

First we meet Emiline, she lost everything one damn night and never had the chance to know what her life would’ve been like. But then, she found herself living a live she never thought was possible. The interesting part is getting to know her life through Emerson’s eyes. They’re the same girl, but not really. One represents part of the other. Both live rough childhoods, both have a sweet boy helping them get through each day. For Emiline, this boy’s name is Jason, Jase. For Emerson, it’s Jackson, or Jax. These girls have such a strong desire to be someone, to do something, to love and be loved. They’re incredible. It was such an amazing journey reading about the ups and downs of their lives, to see the different outcomes of each other’s lives. I love them and their strength.

Then we have Jase. OH MY GOD. Like, OH MY GOD!!!!!! He is not only the sweetest but the most passionate and devoted boy, man. I SWEAR he just made me fall hard for him with every page, I couldn’t not love him, from the start. He’s this young boy that pays attention to every single detail and is always doing what’s right, and he tries he’s damn best to be good to Emiline. Then he becomes in this wonderful man. Yes, the guy is not perfect, at all, but damn it if those smiles I picture in my head and his teasing didn’t made it seem like he would make you the happiest woman in the world. He is totally swoon-worthy, funny and beyond everything, glorious. And patient, so, so, so patient.

“Our story is great. Maybe not all the other shit, but the story of us is perfect, Em.”

I guess, we all have demons and fights to overcome in life. We all have a past that will always be there, no matter what, but the thing is, it can’t define who you are or want to be and this book shows you exactly that. Our lives are just a serie of decisions we make to get what we want and each one of them sets our lives into a different path; be it a good one or bad one, we’ll never know until we see it for ourselves, we’ll just have to have faith that it’ll turn out ok. We come across with people who’ll stick with you from the start to the end, just like there are other who’ll just stay for a while, but each has a great impact in our lives, some will help you heal, move on or be your better self, while some other will not or want the best for you. What you’ll do with them and what they do, that’s your choice to make, but hopefully they won’t leave that great a mark on you. In this case, Emiline’s life was hit by different people and situations that marked each moment. Not all of them were good sure, but she was able to see something good in each person and situation she came across with. And she valiantly fought for herself.

“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.”

I can’t tell you how much I loved this book. I didn’t want it to end, but I needed to know. I needed to see how it would all turn out. Renee Carlino is an amazing writer. She made me get into this story the moment I read the book description and it captivated me and got me hooked the second I read the first page. But of course, I knew it would be amazing, because after reading Before We Were Strangers, there wasn’t any doubt that it would be.

I can’t possibly wait to read Renee’s next book. I’ll be anxiously waiting for it <3



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