Why Can’t I Be You – Allie Larkin


At one time or another, everyone has wished she could be someone else. Exploring this universal longing, Allie Larkin follows up the success of her debut novel, Stay, with a moving portrait of friendship and identity.

When Jenny Shaw hears someone shout “Jessie!” across a hotel lobby, she impulsively answers. All her life, Jenny has toed the line, but something propels her to seize the opportunity to become Jessie Morgan, a woman to whom she bears an uncanny resemblance. Lonely in her own life, Jenny is embraced by Jessie’s warm circle of friends—and finds unexpected romance. But when she delves into Jessie’s past, Jenny discovers a secret that spurs her to take another leap into the unknown.


There are some books that are filled with roadblocks and obstacles all the way through, and the predominant feeling is frustration throughout.
Then there are books that are so too good to be true, you can almost feel the trainwreck about to happen. This book was like the latter, but done in a way that made it possible to pick up the pieces after.

I fell in love with Jessie Morgan’s supposed life. Her family (friends) all had their own quirks, their own hardships, and their own lives. You could definitely feel the nostalgia of a reunion seeping between the pages. It was a total, “Where are they now?” except they had all stayed together throughout (except Jessie, of course). These people were true friends for each other. They had so many inside jokes, rituals, and experiences. It made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. The premise of this book was kind of crazy, but who wouldn’t want that kind of solid support system? Well, Jessie Morgan, evidently—but she had her reasons as well.

I felt for Jenny Shaw. The whole situation was kind of crazy, but she needed an escape. She practically had a mid-life crisis. There were so many nuanced details that all came together. I’m glad Kyle was there, to show what she could have had and what she really wanted. It was important that her mom was the way she was, to understand Jenny’s upbringing and for her to empathize with Robbie. Even the things with Monica and Luanne. Faye. Yarah. Painting. Allie Larkin wrote a story with so many carefully placed details that made the final image all the more striking.

The moment where it all crashed down wasn’t as explosive as I expected. There was so much buildup, but the moment itself wasn’t that bad. I thought there would’ve been more consequences for Jenny’s actions. By the end though, I felt hopeful.

I expected this book to be an airheaded chicklit romp (as insubstantial as a Sophie Kinsella book), but it was better than that. It’s definitely worth a read if you ever wonder about walking in someone else’s shoes.

Related Reading

  • One Day – David Nicholls
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Maria Semple
  • Books about self-discovery or mid-life crises

Rating: 4/5


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