Someone Else's Shoes
Grade : B+

While Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes is a bit slow to start, the two main characters are so real and their individual situations so unfortunate, you simply need to keep reading to see what happens next. Throw in Moyes’ excellent writing and I was thoroughly entertained.

Samantha – Sam – Kent is experiencing a midlife crisis, but not of her own making. Her husband Phil is suffering from severe depression after having lost both his job and his father in a short span of time. Her new boss is a misogynistic jerk who is determined to get her fired. Her parents are frustratingly dependent, and life just feels overwhelming in general. When she accidentally grabs the wrong gym bag after a workout and discovers that the practical outfit she’d planned to wear for an important client presentation has been replaced with a high-end Chanel jacket and a pair of six-inch, red alligator Christian Louboutin heels, she’s at a complete loss. With nothing for it, she dons a stranger’s clothes and is surprised at the reaction she receives from others – and the boost in confidence she gets from wearing something so unlike her normal, dowdy clothes.

Meanwhile, Nisha Cantor is having a very bad day. Someone has stolen her gym bag, leaving her to wear the gym’s generic robe and flip flops while she returns to the luxury hotel penthouse suite she shares with her millionaire business tycoon husband. However, when Nisha arrives home, she discovers that Carl has not only locked her out of their suite and instructed guards to escort her out of the building, he’s cut her off from all of her charge cards and access to any of their shared funds. It doesn’t take much to figure out that the man is having an affair, and this is his way of forcing her into a divorce. She’s been left penniless, homeless, and entirely friendless. Perhaps worst of all, she’s some five-thousand miles away from her teenage son, who has experienced mental trauma and is still extremely fragile, with no way to get back to him.

The plot of Someone Else’s Shoes unfolds organically as Sam and Nisha struggle to deal with their upended lives. Nisha is determined to get her position and status back, while Sam just wants some sign from her husband that he’s not disconnected completely. The two women could not be more different, as far as characters go, but they both find themselves stuck in lives they never planned with no idea how to get back on the right path.

I felt so bad for Sam. Phil has abdicated all responsibilities for their shared life and barely manages to make it from the bed to the sofa every day. Sam is left to run the house, parent their teen daughter alone, and keep them afloat financially, adding more stress to her tenuous job situation and forcing her to smile in the face of a boss who openly has it out for her. While I understand that depression is a mental illness and no fault of Phil’s, the fact that the man refuses to take medication or seek psychological treatment enraged me on Sam’s behalf, and I cheered her on when she reaches the end of her rope. Too, her interest in a co-worker feels less like potential adultery and more like self-preservation, given how thoroughly Phil has abandoned her emotionally and physically. Eventually, we do learn more about what Phil has gone through, making his extreme reaction a bit more understandable.

At first, Nisha is very hard to like. Spoiled and entitled, she treats everyone around her like garbage. Throw in her germaphobia and her attitude about everything, and she’s the worst kind of witch with a capital B. It certainly feels like a come-uppance when she loses access to her wealth and power and finds herself forced to shop at a thrift store and stay at a cheap motel. However, given how far Nisha falls, I soon developed empathy and could not imagine how awful it would be to find oneself in such a position. There came a point where Nisha reverts back to her former nastiness, and every ounce of pity I’d felt evaporated. It appears that she has learned nothing from her own troubles nor developed a sense of compassion, even after having received so much help from others when she was down. Thankfully she manages to redeem herself by story’s end, assuring me that I hadn’t wasted my good opinion of her.

As I said in my intro, it does take a bit of time to really get into the story. Bad things just keep on happening to these two ladies, and I wondered how and when things would ever turn around. And a plot near the end of the book involving the Louboutin shoes comes off as a bit slap-sticky. That said, I found myself turning pages at a rapid pace.

If you are looking for a romance here, you may be disappointed. Nisha develops an attraction to the most unlikely of people, and Sam struggles with feelings for her coworker and her despair over losing Phil to his depression. But the book’s focus is on the trials and tribulations these women endure and survive. The secondary characters who support them are stellar, and a sense of female empowerment pervades the whole story.

I can definitely recommend Someone Else’s Shoes as a great read. If you are feeling somewhat down about your own life, this book surely puts things in perspective.

Reviewed by Jenna Harper

Grade: B+

Book Type: Women's Fiction

Sensuality: Kisses

Review Date : February 27, 2023

Publication Date: 02/2023

Review Tags: PoC

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Jenna Harper

I'm a city-fied suburban hockey mom who owns more books than I will probably ever manage to read in my lifetime, but I'm determined to try.
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