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Sometimes The Grass Is Greener Because It’s Fake

In Jessica Brody’s new book, In Some Other Life, Kennedy’s entire future hinges on a single decision she made when she was fourteen—so, you know, no pressure.

Sometimes The Grass Is Greener Because It’s Fake

BOOK REPORT for In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody

Cover Story: Big…Feet?
BFF Charm: Eventually
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: Sliding Doors
Bonus Factors: Boarding Prep School, Geeky Little Brother
Relationship Status: Casual Coffee Date

Cover Story: Big…Feet?

Well, normally we’re griping about Big Head, so…this is a change. Regardless, I’m not wowed by this cover, but it’s cute, I guess?

The Deal:

Back at the start of ninth grade, Kennedy made the biggest decision of her life and told nary a soul about it. The same week she finally went on a date with Austin, her longtime crush, is when she also received an acceptance letter from the prestigious Windsor Academy. Knowing her new relationship would never survive the three whole miles between schools and social stratospheres, she made the choice to lock the letter away in her desk and never speak of it. More than three years later she’s the editor-in-chief of the revived and award-winning Southwest Starr newspaper, still dating Austin, and on track to major in journalism at Columbia—if she can survive her alumni interview, that is. She’s still obsessed with the idea of Windsor Academy, but she knows that option is dead and buried.

But the night before her alumni interview Kennedy catches Austin and her best friend kissing, and suddenly she’s sick with remorse that she threw away her dream of Windsor for a backstabbing boy. As luck and a nasty fall would have it, Kennedy somehow wakes up wearing a school uniform and finds herself living the life she thought she threw away. Windsor Kennedy is popular and at the top of her class, and she has everything Southwest Kennedy could’ve ever hoped for…right?

BFF Charm: Eventually

In both lives, Kennedy is driven and intent on perfection. Columbia University is her goal no matter who she is, and she’s put so much pressure on herself to get in. I appreciate that Kennedy is the kind of girl to make lists and stay organized (Windsor Academy’s student app sounds heavenly for a planner like me) but where she faltered for me was that throughout most of the book she was so freaking clueless. She suffered from a lot of privilege, and maybe it’s my adultness showing, but it took her way, way too long to connect the dots between her family’s new living situation and the fact that Windsor Academy cost fifty thousand dollars for one year’s tuition. DUH. Kennedy started to redeem herself near the end, but I don’t think we would've ever crossed paths during high school.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Kennedy is understandably hurt over the betrayal of her best friend and boyfriend macking it behind her back, but the part that really stings is that she’s really not that upset, and yet three years ago baby Kennedy made this drastic life change based on one date with a guy. Like Kennedy, I also questioned her judgment, because Austin is a total goober.

And now that she’s top dog at Windsor, she is beyond grateful at this opportunity to live her dream…but then there’s Dylan, trying his best to be a Mysterious Loner Dude who considers everyone at Windsor to be zombies and thinks Windsor Kennedy kind of sucks. Doesn’t he know that animosity is the fastest way to a girl’s heart?

Talky Talk: Sliding Doors

I am always here for a storyline that involves checking out if the grass is really greener on the other side. Brody manages to infuse her “what if?” plot with a cautionary tale about overachievers and the dangers of putting too much pressure on oneself. Sadly, I think the story would've been a bit more compelling if there wasn’t such a clearly healthier choice between the two lifestyles. Despite the novel’s size it was a breezy read and I got through it relatively quickly. The tone fell solidly in the "Y" camp versus the "A", and will probably resonate more with the actual teen crowd, especially those who, like Kennedy, think that life will end if you don’t get into an Ivy League school (spoiler alert: It doesn’t).

Bonus Factor: Boarding Prep School

Kennedy doesn’t sleep at Windsor (though for that amount of money she should be) but it has all the classic elements we drool over in a boarding school: beautifully manicured lawn spaces, intellectually fancy classrooms with iPads and couches instead of desks, classic yet flirty school uniforms, and an amazing library.

Bonus Factor: Geeky Little Brother

Frankie, Kennedy’s genius eleven-year-old brother, was probably my favorite person in the entire book. Kennedy clues him in early on about the fact that she’s body-snatched herself, and he spends most of his time trying to figure out why he is exactly the same in both parallel universes. He also created a theoretical physics based board game called What’s the Matter, featuring adorably science-y things like the Forest of Relativity.

Casting Call:

Katie Stevens as Kennedy Rhodes

Cole Sprouse as Dylan Parker

Relationship Status: Casual Coffee Date

You seem to really love caffeine, Book, and maybe that’s because you’re wound a bit tight. I enjoy the occasional cup, and I wouldn’t mind meeting up every now and then to get our fix, but I don’t think we’ve got the same priorities, so this probably shouldn't be a standing date.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Farrar Straus Giroux. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. In Some Other Life is available now.

Stephanie Johnston's photo About the Author: Stephanie is an avid reader who moonlights as a college Educational Advisor. Though she now calls Orlando home, she grew up all over the U.S. Aside from her obsession with YA books and book-related activities, Stephanie loves watching way too much television, reading organizational/DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.