How To Be Someone Else by Rachel Del
Publication Date: October 20th, 2016
Song I Played While Reading: Cool Girl by Tove Lo
Rating: 3.5 stars
Link to Goodreads
Sometimes it is the one who knows you best who can love you best.
Penny has lived her life letting others take the rein, leaving her to simply follow in line. After completing her senior year of College, she'll join her father's marketing firm, get married and start a family.
When her parents drop a bomb on her - that they are getting divorced - Penny decides it's time to start living by her own rules. And when she meets mysterious P.J. Hawthorne, a publishing author who seems to know much more about Penny than she lets on, she knows this is her chance to finally get her life moving in the right direction.
But as questions about her new life overwhelm her, so do thoughts of sweet and gorgeous Alex - who just so happens to be her best friend.
What follows is a series of poor decisions, each one more worrisome than the last, forcing Penny further and further away from not only Alex, but from becoming the woman she's sure she's meant to be.
I think we've all gone through that lost phase in our life - the one where we question everything we thought we knew, try on different personas like clothes, and struggle to figure out what's right. What fits. We do stupid shit because we're not in the right mindset, and we hurt people when we really don't mean to. Penny goes through this in How To Be Someone Else, and Del manages to capture it almost perfectly.
There were a few instances where I felt a disconnect with Penny, mostly because of my inability to sympathize with her. I found it extremely difficult to put myself in her shoes, since my parents have been separated since I was 9, and I couldn't help but feel that her feelings were blown out of proportion. But I can't say her feelings are invalid simply because I can't understand them. I've always struggled with this, so it's nothing new, but it always sucks when it affects my relationship with a character like Penny. She was spunky, sweet, and loved to read.
I loved her relationship with Alex. It was so incredibly sweet; long-time friends falling for each other always warms my heart, because you know it's going to last. (I don't even want to talk about those damn epilogues, because CUTENESS OVERLOAD.) Even though I thought Alex definitely needed to chill at times (especially over Ryan), I couldn't help but appreciate how attentive and caring he was. He was always watching out for Penny, which you really don't see that much these days, so he got major points in my book.
The family dynamics touched a spot in my heart, since I know personally how hard it is for a family to come back together once it fractures. There are so many feelings that come into play, so many hearts that can or can't be mended, that it can take years for feelings to heal. Even though I said I struggled at points with Penny's feelings, there were moments when she thought or did something that punched me straight in the heart. It was so achingly familiar and heartbreaking that I wanted to hug her.
Overall, this was a tender, fun, and honest approach to what it's like to lose yourself, and the surprises that come out of finally finding yourself.
About the author
Rachel Del is a head-in-the-clouds introvert, homebody and thirty-something writer currently living in Las Vegas, Nevada with her husband and three-year-old son. Originally from Ontario, Canada she works in book publish, and spends her free reading and writing contemporary romance novels. She drinks far too much black coffee and could eat sushi every day.