Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino: Book Review

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Synopsis from Goodreads: 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?

Publisher: Atria Books

Date Published: August 9, 2016

Setting: San Diego; Ohio

Date Read: August 12, 2016

Source: Kindle Ebook




From the moment I read the very first chapter, I knew right then and there it will become a favorite.


Swear On This Life is the first book by Renee Carlino that I have read, and now I have made it my life’s mission to read every book she has written and will ever write. That’s how attached I was. I have been hearing about her books before but I wasn’t intrigued enough to actually pick and read one, until this book. To be honest I just skimmed the blurb, I picked out words here and there and just went for it. So happy I did. You see, there is something about books about readers and writers that appeal to me so much. Put that in a book and I am practically sold. It is true, the very first chapter captured my attention, so much so that I could very well feel that even at 12% I am sure it will be included in my favorites list. I just knew nothing could go wrong with this one. And that’s how you write a book people, you hit all the right spots in the very first chapter and captivate the readers like the proverbial moth to the flame. First chapter and I was a goner! I swear it was all I was talking about, it was all I was tweeting about, it was all I was snap chatting about, it was bordering annoying but I just couldn’t help it, I was so smitten over a book I literally cannot deal with other people or with life.  I just wanted to stay in bed and just read the day away. It is as if I was latching on to every word and the anticipation of what’s to happen was killing me.

The story isn’t definitely something you come across often. It wasn’t a cliche, if anything it was unconventional and very unique. I was thinking of what best word to describe it and the word bookception (yep just like the movie Inception) was the only thing that came to mind. Very fitting if you ask me. It was a book about a book with another book inside it – I am serious. What is better than that, tell me! I loved how Renee Carlino intertwined the lives of the characters in a way that is not in the usual course of a novel. There was juxtaposition of the old selves and the new selves of the characters through a book inside a story, it was so original, hats off to Renee Carlino for thinking outside the box. That alone made the book so appealing to me. I have not read anything like it. I loved that it was very plot driven and very well written. I have highlighted a lot of passages.

Emiline’s character perfectly embodies a person who has been torn with the choices she makes in life. I somehow see myself in her. Isn’t that the point of a book? How a part of yourself could relate to the story no matter how different it was from yours. How you will be able to realize that everything you experience in life is not unprecedented, that a book magnifies bits and pieces of yourself through the stories of others. Jase on the other hand was as human as any character should be. There was beauty in his character, the persistence and how patient he was with Emiline, and yes he even went out of his way to write a book just to reach Emiline and make her realize everything. Renee Carlino made relatable characters. I love love love that both Jase and Emiline are big readers, goodness, I was so happy to see myself in a character!

The book didn’t have the shocking, heart-stopping twist, but it proved that a good book doesn’t need one to be able to become a worthy read. We are taken into a journey of two kids who were faced with difficulties in life and were forced to grow up fast, whatever that was about to unfold, Renee Carlino made sure that the readers become a part of it. It is as if as Emiline reads the book, the readers read it with her. There was something so beautiful about it. That’s why this book became a favorite.

Swear on This Life is something relevant and very eye-opening. It wasn’t a simple case of the one that got away story, but it was something more than that. The book will make you realize the choices you have made and its impact in your life. Swear on This Life speaks in volumes, it speaks of regrets and having to live and deal with your demons the best way you know how. It was more than a just a story, it teaches you a lesson or two. Something you would actually stop and ponder on after you read it. It was taking the leap of faith and trusting where your feet will land.


Everything felt lighter, like the planet had been catapulted into the cosmos and we were spinning freely through space and time.

Renee Carlino, Swear on This Life



4 thoughts on “Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino: Book Review

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