I feel like a bit of a cheat starting with a review of this book, because I actually finished it on December 31st. I always struggle with whether to start with the first book I actually READ in the new year, or if it’s OK to use my first review on a book I read the previous year. It feels a bit wrong, even though I only finished it about half an hour before 2018, but I’m doing it anyway. There. Now that you’ve witnessed the ethical acrobatics that go on in my brain, let’s move on.
When I saw that Kristin Cashore had a new book out, I immediately added it to my To Read list and requested it from the library. Unfortunately, so did everyone else. As luck would have it, I finally got it from the library right before my husband and I headed home for Christmas, our first trip home together since moving from Ohio to Seattle almost a year earlier.
Before this big move, neither of us had ever lived out of state before, though we’d always talked about it. As we were quickly approaching our mid-thirties and settling more and more into our home and routines, it seemed it might never happen.
Happen it did, though, and we were excited to be headed back for our first official visit. This book turned out to be the perfect fit for that trip. I love when that happens! What I didn’t love is that we both got super sick, so our big NYE plans consisted of sitting around my husband’s parents’ house in our pajamas and not even pretending that we were going to stay up until midnight. The only bonus? I had an excuse to sit and read this entire book that night.
I still haven’t talked about the book, have I? I always do this. The thing is, I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, as I’d hate to ruin the experience of reading it. And it is an experience.
Jane, Unlimited is a little bit Jane Eyre. A little bit of a poke in the nostalgia bone (it exists, ask a doctor). It’s more than a little bit sci-fi and a whole lotta bit Choose Your Own Adventure. The main character, Jane, recently lost her Aunt Magnolia, the woman who had cared for her since her parents died. She was soon after invited to Tu Reviens, her friend’s family estate, an invitation her aunt had cryptically asked her to never turn down.
So go, she did, meeting many a memorable character along the way, the best, by far, being Jaspar, a basset hound with a knack for turning up at opportune moments and an affection for Jane that’s more than what it seems.
This is a story about missed opportunities, second chances, and what we lose (or gain!) when we choose one path over another. It fit perfectly with what I’d been feeling on that first trip home. Like it was an answer to all of those “what ifs.” What if we hadn’t left? What if we’d left years before? What if we’d moved somewhere different?
All we can ever hope for is that we’re left, at some point, with the certainty that whatever decisions we’ve made were good ones. That we’re happy with the path we’ve ended up taking. That it was the right choice, even if it wasn’t the ONLY right one, because I’m starting to wonder if that really exists. Maybe all we can do is keep tumbling down the chosen path, never knowing where it might lead, but hoping for the best all the same.