46 pages 1 hour read

Taylor Jenkins Reid

Maybe in Another Life

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2015

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Summary and Study Guide


Maybe in Another Life by American author Taylor Jenkins Reid is a romance novel published in 2015 by Simon and Schuster. Maybe in Another Life stands alone from much of Reid’s other work; she has also written Carrie Soto, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Daisy Jones & The Six, and Malibu Rising in what has been called the “famous women quartet.” With recurring characters, the four novels share themes and exist within the same universe but are narratively independent.

Reid is a New York Times bestselling author of seven novels. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, which achieved critical acclaim, was purchased by Netflix in 2022 to be adapted into an original film. Reid is also known for her 2019 novel, Daisy Jones & The Six, which was adapted into a miniseries by Amazon in 2023.

This guide uses the 2015 paperback edition of the novel published by Washington Square Press.

Plot Summary

The beginning of the novel sees its central protagonist, 29-year-old Hannah Martin, moving back to her hometown of Los Angeles. On the plane ride, Hannah sits next to a woman who is anxious about flying. To distract her, Hannah talks about her life, telling the woman she has moved from city to city, the last of which was New York, and has finally decided to go home. Hannah’s family has lived in London since she was 16.

At the airport, Hannah is greeted by her childhood best friend, Gabby, a petite Black woman who works as the VP of Development at a nonprofit. Gabby is married to Mark, who is a dentist. Still unsure of her future plans, Hannah takes up residence in Gabby and Mark’s guest room.

Shortly after arriving in LA, Gabby arranges a homecoming party for Hannah, where she catches up with old friends. One of them is Ethan, Hannah’s high school sweetheart and first love, of whom she has continued to think throughout her adult life. When Gabby and Mark are about to leave, Hannah must decide whether to go home with Gabby and Mark or to take Ethan up on his offer and go home with him instead. This decision is the impetus for what follows in the narrative, which is two disparate storylines that unfold in parallel as the result of Hannah’s decision.

In the first storyline, Hannah decides to go home with Gabby and Mark. On the way home, they stop to take photos by an art installation. Trying to get a good shot of them, Hannah stands in the road as the couple poses. In the middle of the photoshoot, Hannah is hit by a car that speeds off.

Three days later, Hannah wakes up in the hospital. She has suffered major injuries from the accident and will need to learn to walk again. Hannah is surprised to find that her parents and sister have come to visit for the first time since leaving the US. For several days, Hannah is visited by friends and family, including the Hudsons and Ethan. Though her parents want to stay, Hannah encourages them to go back to London, as she wants to heal in peace. Gabby remains by her side throughout her time in the hospital, though Mark never visits. Another caring supporter is Hannah’s night nurse, Henry, on whom she develops a crush. When another nurse notices that Hannah and Henry seem to be getting close, Henry is switched to the day shift.

Soon after beginning physical therapy, Hannah is released from the hospital. Wanting to take a chance and ask Henry out, she scours the hospital for him, only to be reprimanded by another nurse. Months later, after living with Gabby following her separation from Mark, Hannah runs into Henry at her favorite bakery, where they are both buying her favorite food, cinnamon rolls. Hannah and Henry begin a relationship, and three years later are married and expecting their first child. By that time, Hannah is about to start nursing school, having finally discovered her purpose.

In an alternate storyline, Hannah goes home with Ethan on the night of the homecoming party. They rekindle their romance and decide immediately that they want to be in a relationship again. In the early days of their romance, Hannah makes major strides toward getting her life together. She makes a list of things to do, and within hours purchases a car and gets a job offer. Amid the good news, she also decides to take in a stray dog, whom she names Charlamagne.

Just when things are starting to improve for Hannah, she discovers that she is pregnant with another man’s child; the father is Michael, a married man she was sleeping with in New York. Though she does not feel ready, Hannah decides to keep the child whether or not Michael will be a part of its life. When she tells Ethan about the baby, he tells her he needs to time to process the news. Soon thereafter, Ethan breaks up with Hannah, confessing that he cannot fathom raising another man’s child.

Hannah turns to Gabby for emotional support, and Gabby does the same after learning about her husband’s affair. Through their pain, the women find strength in one another. A couple months before her due date, Hannah gets a visit from Ethan. During the visit, he confesses his love for her and vows to be with her if that is still what she wants, even if it means raising another man’s child.

Three years later, Hannah and Ethan are at Gabby’s 32nd birthday party, catching up with friends. Their daughter, Gabriella, is at home with the sitter, and they have plans to stay out all night. After they leave the party, they head to a hotel, eager to continue their quest of trying for another baby.