Book Review: Swear On This Life by Renée Carlino

Swear on this life

3 Stars – Quick, somewhat romantic read. (I swear).

Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino was chosen for a book club that I host, the Edmonton Chapter of The Girly Book Club. Yes, that is a shameless plug.  A “beach read”, which is a novel that I could lay in the sun with and drink slushie drinks while travelling along with Emiline, Trevor, Cara and Jase. The story within a story format is enjoyable and is clearly written for a young adult audience, given its blatant predictability. I appreciate that Emiline’s childhood hardships are explored in a depth that garners sympathy for her adult character. However, that doesn’t dismiss her inability to make decisions or be very self aware into her late 20s.

Late Bloomers

This is a late-bloomer book written in the young adult genre (teenagers as the main characters) since the adult versions of Em and Jase hadn’t had the opportunity to truly come into their own due to their circumstances as children. There is a type of strength that comes with having to grow up when you are still a child and a craving for safety that can be very hard to break out of. Emiline demonstrates this need for safety through her relationship with Trevor. Oh Trevor. Trevor and Emiline. Sigh. They’re that couple that you know. The ones that, from a hundred yards away, strangers can tell that they shouldn’t be together. They’re simply too wrapped up in themselves to care about anyone else. For example:

“He assumed his standard position as he slouched against the cushions, his feet kicked up on the coffee table, his hands clasped together behind his head. It struck me that there was something wrong about his casualness. We had just had a fight, yet his body language suggested that nothing had happened.” (page 95)

Em has her past and Trevor lost everything before he had the opportunity to really have anything. Together, they make a passive aggressive and angry pair.

In Swear on This Life, Carlino made some interesting choices in how she concluded the story (or didn’t). The neat bow Carlino places on many of the characters near the end of the book is surreal.  Real life isn’t like that and maybe that’s her playing with her fiction factor. Overall, a fun, fast read. Solid 3 stars.