In Another Life by C.C. Hunter is a young adult contemporary fiction novel about a young high school senior named Chloe Holden whose adoptive parents just got divorced – good old dad was cheating on his wife with a much younger woman named Darlene. Chloe is, understandably, upset at her new life; her dad lives in El Paso, Texas still which is where Chloe grew up, went to school, where her friends live and former boyfriend all live. When the story begins, Chloe’s dad is bringing her back to her mother’s house in Joyful, Texas where she lives now and will be going to school. After the divorce, Chloe and her mom moved into Chloe’s maternal grandmother’s house. To say that Chloe is less than thrilled about her new living arrangements is an understatement; to say she’s beyond raging mad at her dad for it would be another understatement. Before they get all the way to her mom’s house, Chloe and her dad stop at a gas station to get gas, grab some snacks and drinks. Chloe, in all her anger, goes charging into the convenience store and accidentally bumps into a guy not much older than her on the way in making him drop his red slushie drink all over the floor and her white sandals. Chloe notices the guy and thinks he’s hot, but is at a loss for words because she can’t believe she ran into him and because he’s intently staring at her. He apologizes even though he didn’t do anything wrong. She takes her sandals off and heads straight for the refrigerators to stick her face in one to cool off.
The boy is still intently watching Chloe and eventually follows her to the back of the store where she has her head in a cooler and continues to stare intently at her. Chloe feeling creeped out by his intense staring, apologizes for bumping into him and knocking his drink to the floor; she promises to pay for it, grabs a drink for herself and quickly heads to the front of the store. The boy is still following her; as she’s heading back out to the car, her father is finally heading into the store. The store clerk is cleaning up the slushie that was spilled; Chloe tells the store clerk that her dad is paying for her drink and the spilled slushie then quickly heads to the car. Before she makes it to the car, the boy is outside and gives Chloe a cryptic warning that she has no idea what he’s talking about. She stands next to it, opens her drink and looks up to see if the boy is still staring at her – much to her dismay he is and she finally decides to sit down in the car. Once her dad returns, she’s relieved to be leaving, but turns around to check one last time on the boy who was watching them drive down the road. She watched him watching them until he was out of sight.
Her dad drops her off at her mother’s house and it is evident that he is trying to have a good relationship with Chloe despite the divorce. It becomes evident that both Chloe and her mother are not pleased with Chloe’s dad. Her mother has cancer and is not handling the divorce well; Chloe lives next to a girl her age named Lindsey who will be attending the same school. They become fast friends and is one of the first friends Chloe makes in Joyful. Chloe drives Lindsey to school so the first day of school, Lindsey and Chloe are walking on to campus when they notice a guy, Paul, bullying another student – a sophomore. A crowd of students have already formed around the scene and about the same time that Chloe was going to intervene to help the sophomore, the same guy from the convenience store fiasco shows up to save the sophomore (so kind and noble!). Lindsey identifies the bully as Paul, a football player, and the other kid as Cash. Chloe finds out that Cash transferred from a private school, lives in the more wealthy part of town and is a foster kid. Cash saves the sophomore and tries to walk away, but it’s clear Paul is looking for a fight. Cash is dodging Paul’s punches pretty effortlessly until he sees Chloe standing in the crowd, then he stops dead in his tracks and gets punched in the eye. Furious about getting punched in the eye, Cash punches Paul in the stomach and then the nose before a teacher comes out to break it up and send Cash to the front office.
Chloe also has to go to the front office because she has to; new students get assigned a guide which is just another student who is able to show them where their classes are and around the school for the first week. While Chloe is waiting for the campus guide, she explains to the school counselor that she’d witnessed the fight from beginning to end, that Cash tried to walk away from Paul, but Paul wouldn’t let it go. Luckily, Cash doesn’t get suspended and since his eye was swollen he was given two options, the first was to go to the nurse’s office to let her look at it or he could head home to let his parents look at it since both are doctors. Cash opts to head home rather than the nurse’s office. Readers find out that Cash lives with the Fullers; we find out that the Fullers’ daughter was kidnapped when she was three years old. We find out that her room is still intact, that Mrs. Fuller still holds out hope that she will find her again, and that the Fullers’ were scammed a few years ago by someone claiming to have information that would help them find her.
We find out that Cash’s mother walked out on him and his father not long after Cash was born and that Cash’s father was not a good role model. He was a thief and crook who forced Cash to help him in his crimes; most of his crimes involved stealing from someone or a company. Cash’s father was also verbally and sometimes physically abusive. Cash had a very rough life before his dad died and afterwards, he became a ward of the state and put into the foster care system. He’s lived with a few families, but ended up staying with the Fullers. Cash believes that Chloe is the Fullers’ kidnapped daughter, Emily, but needs to prove it. So he goes about getting to know Chloe better by becoming her friend, but they end up getting much closer than that. He ends up developing feelings for Chloe and Chloe for him; they decide to find out the truth together. Readers follow Chloe and Cash through familial turmoil, typical teenage problems, typical relationship problems, and trying to figure out if Chloe is really Emily or not. Chloe shows Cash what love and acceptance looks like (the Fullers did too) and reminds him that his past doesn’t dictate his future.
I really didn’t know what to expect from this book; it was described as a mystery, thriller and romance novel all rolled into one which I didn’t think would work out well. I decided to give it a try anyway because the book summary sounded very interesting. Why would someone want to kill Chloe and Cash for trying to find out the truth about Chloe’s past? I had a very hard time putting this book down once I started reading it – I wanted to know what would happen to Chloe and Cash’s relationship, would they find out the truth and if they do, what is the truth? Do they end up injured or dead trying to find the truth and who is trying to kill them? So many questions I just had to get the answers to. I checked this book out from my local library and I’m glad I did – I loved the story. I would recommend this book to any reader who enjoys mystery, thriller romance novels all rolled into one novel. I would recommend this book to any person looking for an interesting read and a good love story. I plan to purchase my own copy of this book because that’s how much I loved it, you can purchase a hardcover copy from Barnes and Noble for $18.99 (or $17.09 for Members)!
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