REVIEW: Swear On This Life by Renee Carlino

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From USA TODAY bestselling author Renée Carlino (Before We Were Strangers), a warm and witty novel about a struggling writer who must come to grips with her past, present, and future after she discovers that she’s the inspiration for a pseudonymously published bestselling novel.

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?

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“Why wait if you know it’s right?”

Swear On This Life by Renee Carlino has one of the most original storylines and concepts that I have ever read. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was completely blown away. It’s a book of forgiveness, self-discovery, friendship, redemption, and love.

“We can’t go backward. There are too many regrets. Please just move forward with me?

A lot of us may not have had the childhoods that were described in the book, but there is something about both of their upbringings that we can relate to. Letting go of a lifetime’s worth of baggage is hard, but when you have someone that is willing to stand by your side as you process and work your way through then you have found someone special. Love from another person can be seen and felt in a number of ways but in my opinion there is no greater act of love than when a person helps (or sometimes forces) you to find and see your best self as they see you and this is where the true beauty of Swear On This Life lies.

I’ve said it numerous times and I will say it again: Renee Carlino is a go-to writer for me. She never disappoints and always delivers on exceptional storytelling with emotional depth and character development. I savored every single page and it is my hope that other readers will do the same!!

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