“I was born blue.” This is our introduction to Kali Jai, named after the goddess of destruction in the Hindu pantheon. When we meet Kali again decades later, she is known as Paula Vauss, a brash, sharp-tongued Atlanta lawyer and narrator of Joshilyn Jackson’s new novel, The Opposite of Everyone.
Paula is a successful divorce attorney in her mid-30s, handling mostly BANK (Both Assholes, No Kids) cases. Her love life constitutes a series of sabotaged romances—the second a relationship begins to smell of intimacy or monogamy, she runs the other way. Her only family is her mother, to whom she has not spoken since college. Their only form of contact is a monthly check that Paula dutifully mails to frequently changing addresses. It is clear that Paula has managed to avoid dealing with her troubled past by pouring herself into her career. But when one of her checks is returned, Paula realizes her mother has gone missing, and she is finally forced to confront her traumatic history—with the help of her longtime friend and erstwhile lover who means more to her than she is willing to admit.
The Opposite of Everyone hurtles forward at a breakneck pace and is chock full of twists. Paula’s brutal honesty and loyal heart will make readers root for her. Jackson has woven a multilayered story that uses both folklore and mythology to explore the deep bond of mother to child and the way that the tales we tell can both define and constrain us.