The Choice by Gillian McAllister

I hope you guys aren’t getting tired of the book reviews, because they will likely just keep coming. I’m trying to stay home and be safe during the pandemic, and reading has been a comfort from the very beginning (along with Animal Crossing, Grey’s Anatomy nights with my hubby, and Marvel watch parties via Zoom with friends on Saturdays). Almost all of my nights now end with lying in bed reading a book until I get sleepy. And actually, I’m pretty ok with that. Also, Instagram has been my social media of choice lately, and I follow a lot of bookstagrammers who receive ARCs (advanced reader copies) of books, and I’ve found that for me the best way to get in on that, since I read mostly ebooks, is via NetGalley. So I’ve been plugging away requesting, downloading, reading, and writing reviews. I’ve finished 7 books since June 22!

My latest read is The Choice by Gillian McAllister. Not surprisingly, I finished it before going to bed last night. I really wanted to find out how this one ended! I’ve heard it described as a “sliding door” scenario, which means that after what happens at the beginning of the book, there were two potential outcomes, and the book covers both of them. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything written quite this way before. 

Plot Details

The book starts out with the main character, Joanna, out for a night out with her friend, Laura. They have an encounter with one of those sleazy guys that you sometimes encounter in bars at night hitting on women, and at the end of the night Joanna begins traveling home. But she senses that she’s being followed and that it’s likely the guy from the bar. She goes to defend herself, and disaster sort of happens. How should she proceed? What should she do? The book follows Joanna’s path both if she chooses to “conceal” or “reveal” what happened and the form her life takes after that. (Each following chapter is titled either “Conceal” or “Reveal”.) What would you do?

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book both as a sort of mystery/thriller as well as from a life decision standpoint. The approach wasn’t to convey Joanna as a villain or hero, but to consider the path her life takes depending on the choice she makes. The story – well, both stories – were very thought-provoking. The author seems to be asking the reader to consider what they would do in such a situation. You’d think it’s black or white, right or wrong, confess or hide your mistakes, but things are not always so straightforward. 

The main characters in The Choice were well fleshed out, and you even got some insight into the peripheral characters, although I would have liked a bit more character development there. You really get to see inside Joanna’s head as she considers this choice and how it could impact her life. The two scenarios both seem very extreme, which kept me on the edge of my seat wondering how things would play out. One focus of both stories seemed to be about Joanna accepting herself, and I loved that! I feel like this is something most people struggle with, and I definitely identified with her on that level.

The Choice might be one of my favorites this year so far. I loved how it played out, and I loved the life lessons and thoughts that it really made you consider. I look forward to diving into more books from Gillian McAllister. Definitely pick this one up if you get a chance, and see which “choice” you would make!

Rating: 5/5 stars