Why Can't I Be You: A Novel

Why Can't I Be You: A Novel

by Allie Larkin


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Soon to be a Major Motion Picture

"An engaging and smart novel with rich characters.”—She Knows Red Hot Book of the Week

At one time or another, everyone has wished they 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780452298378
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/26/2013
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Allie Larkin is the internationally bestselling author of the novels Stay, and Why Can’t I Be You. She has never ordered a dog off the internet or assumed a new identity to attend a high school reunion. When Allie writes, she wears an oversized circa 1980s acrylic sweater that is a crime against fashion and good taste in general. Allie lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Jeremy, their German Shepherd, Stella.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"A charming, heart-felt story of love, laughter, and borrowed identity, Why Can't I Be You explores the brilliant notion that it's not until we've let go of who we think we should be that we can discover who we actually are."
-Amy Hatvany, USA Today bestselling author of Outside the Lines

Customer Reviews

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Why Can't I Be You: A Novel 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
jsCO More than 1 year ago
Haven't we all had those days where someone else's life seems so much better than ours? On an impulse, Jenny steps into another woman's shoes, and becomes part of a circle of Jessie's friends. The going gets rough when those friends find out they've been deceived. Very good story about living the life you want to live, not the one you may be stuck in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ms. Larkin's follow-up novel to the warm and charming "Stay" is a strong testament to the ability of a writer to sharpen their authorial strengths while smoothing out their weaknesses. Much like "Stay", "WCIBY" examines the various relationships one has from childhood into adulthood without feeling like a flurry of "meet cutes", over-the-top revelations and disingenuous one liners. I truly enjoyed riding with protagonist Jenny Shaw (a.k.a. Jessie Morgan) on a journey of discovery of strength, friendship, love and, most notably, self.
rockygirl1 More than 1 year ago
At first I kinda wondered about this one. I mean seriously, who would just assume the identity of someone else? But as you get into the story, you truly find out that Jenny didn’t have the best growing up (not that this excuses anything, just saying. As the story goes along I found myself pulled more and more pulled into the story. Yep, really liked this one.  Jenny/Jessie is such a fascinating character as to why she would do this. I really wanted to find out if she would pull the plug on her charade. This one was a little off the map for me as I usually stick a little more to romance/YA, but I really found myself liking it! A great, if more serious read. The interaction between the characters I think was what really did it for me.
twOH More than 1 year ago
This story kept me up until 2 a.m. in the morning. I didn't want to put it down. The main character really had a fun personality. It really made you want to try being someone else. This is a must read you will smile all the way through it.
Thrain_Stormsinger More than 1 year ago
Loved the story.
Chrissy_W More than 1 year ago
3.5 stars Did I enjoy this book: I did enjoy this book. It was a fun read that had me reading every free chance I had. I was surprised by Jenny Shaw. I liked her and I really felt for her. She seemed like a pushover except when she was Jessica Morgan. There were other times when I just could not believe what was happening and I was surprised by how far things went. Jenny is a character you want to dislike but you love all the more as the story goes on. The supporting cast in Why Can't I Be You all played their roles well. You know these people...the co-worker who really isn't a friend but actually is, the group from high school who still hang out together and have formed a family, the outsider who doesn't belong anymore, and the friend that holds a grudge and tries to ruin anyone who crosses her path. All of these people made this book. I could relate to them and see them all together. I loved Myra and Robbie. I think Robbie was my favorite, especially at the end. He was sweet. The story itself was engaging and fun. You keep waiting for the truth to come out. I was happy with the ending. I was afraid I wasn't going to like the ending, that it would be too neat and perfect. The ending was good. I want more though. Will there be more, Ms. Larkin?  Would I recommend it: I would recommend this book to any chick lit fan. Will I read it again: I will not but I would love a sequel!
ethel55 More than 1 year ago
I wasn't sure this would live up to how much I enjoyed Larkin's first book, Stay. Once I suspended some disbelief, I was immersed in Jenny Shaw's world, both real and imagined. From the pop culture references to all the friends believable compatibility, I was drawn into the story and wanted to know what happened to everyone.
JerseyGirlBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Jenny Shaw is a junior account executive with a PR firm in Rochester, NY, who is going on her first business trip to Seattle to attend a conference in the place of her boss. After the seminar, she has plans to spend a week long romantic Napa wine country vacation with her boyfriend Deagan. But on the way to the airport, Deagan breaks up with Jenny for another woman, and leaves the airport with her suitcase still in the trunk. Heartbroken and with no clothes, Jenny embarks on a trip that starts off badly and takes a crazy twist when a case of mistaken identity leads her to assume the identity of a woman named Jessie Morgan. Stepping into the elevator at the lodge in Seattle, a woman named Myra Aberly mistakes Jenny for her long-lost high school best friend Jessie Morgan, who disappeared right after their high school graduation. Thinking that Jessie has shown up for their thirteenth high school class reunion, Myra latches onto Jenny, who gets caught up in the moment, and doesn't tell her that she isn't her long-lost friend Jessie. Jenny didn't have an easy life: she grew up leading a lonely life as an only child whose parents were divorced, a mother who was an alcoholic, and she had little to no friends. In Myra, Jenny finds a true friend like she never had in high school, and as she gets introduced to Jessie's group of friends, she finally feels like she belongs. But how long can Jenny's escape from her own life through her reinvented life as Jessie continue? When the truth comes to light, will Jenny be able to go back to her lonely life, or will this experience change her? Why Can't I Be You is a lighthearted story of a woman who embarks on a journey of self-discovery through a case of mistaken identity, who ends up finding her true self along the way. Author Allie Larkins weaves an entertaining tale written in the first person narrative, with the main character Jenny Shaw taking the reader along for the ride on her journey to discover herself. Set in Rochester, NY and Seattle, WA, Jenny's story unfolds with flashbacks to her childhood, which helps the reader relate to Jenny wanting to escape her lonely life by assuming the life of another person. Pretending to be Jessie allows Jenny to open up and try things that the wild child and free spirited Jessie had done, things that Jenny never would have dreamed of doing, and along the way she discovers the person she is meant to be. With a complex cast of characters who are endearing and have interesting personal histories; with witty dialogue and engaging interactions; and an intriguing storyline about identities, friendships, and family dynamics; it doesn't take much for the reader to get drawn into this fast-paced entertaining story. Author Allie Larkin has a way of weaving a tale that is both funny and sad, it makes the reader ponder the craziness of wanting to be someone else, while dealing with personal issues and gaining life lessons along the way. Why Can't I Be You is an enjoyable story of one woman's journey of self-discovery that has humor, emotional drama, twists and turns, and some subtle romance thrown in the mix. This is the kind of story that keeps the reader thoroughly entertained from beginning to end.
TheAutumnReview More than 1 year ago
On her way out of town for a work conference, Jenny Shaw gets dumped. What a way to start off a book. I felt so bad for Jenny from the get go. Why Can't I Be You was a page turner for me from beginning to end. I wanted so badly for Jenny to get her happy ending.  Jenny hasn't had it easy. Growing up, she was shy, a bit reserved, and her home life was less than stable. She learned to keep the peace by accommodating others. As a result, she didn't really know what made her happy. She's just ended a relationship with a guy who wasn't really all that invested in their relationship, her mother is an alcoholic, she has no real relationship with her dad, and she doesn't have any real friends. To me, that seemed like quite a lonely life. So, she's at this conference trying to mend her broken heart and she gets recognized. There's also a high school reunion taking place at the hotel and the host of the event thinks Jenny is her old friend Jessie. However, in this case of mistaken identity, Jenny quickly finds that she doesn't want to correct the error.  What happens is that Jenny starts to live the life of Jessie. Jessie is Jenny's complete opposite. Jessie was wild, carefree, and a bit rebellious in high school. Jessie never really took others feelings into account. She acted based on her own wants and needs. As Jenny begins to find out more about Jessie, she is also becoming attached to her old friends. Jenny fits in well with Myra, Heather, Robbie, and is falling hard for Fish (Gilbert). This group of people are what Jenny needs in her life, but now she's stuck in a web of lies.  Once Jenny's secret is revealed, Jenny does some much needed soul searching. She also finds the real Jessie and gets the truth about what happened to her after high school. Jenny sees that she's lived her life for others, not herself. So, she heads back to Rochester and decides to make some big changes. I was really proud of Jenny. She really began to realize that she had worth and that she deserved to be treated well and loved.  I really loved this group of characters. They really stood by each other. I have a few childhood friendships that I've maintained over the years, that I treasure like this group treasures each other. It really is a gift to have people like that in your life. While this book doesn't have a strong romantic element to the story, I really loved watching Jenny and Fish fall in love. There were a few pretty steamy moments between them too.  Overall, I can't recommend this one enough. Like I said, I couldn't put it down. From the characters, the story, and the pop culture references, Why Can't I Be You is a book that I will keep in my library. It's the kind of book that I could go back to a few years from now and still enjoy it. If you are a fan of Women's Fiction, this is a great book for you.  Quotes: ~If Deagan had left me for a supermodel or an acrobat, or even someone who played volleyball really, really well, it wouldn't have felt like such an enormous slap in the face. The fact that Faye was average at everything-just as average as me-was maddening. He wasn't even upgrading.-pg 11 ~"You're going to be fine. When you come back, we're going on the hunt. We'll get you some hot dentist sex or some steamy science teacher action." "Dentist sex?" "Nerds are way better in bed than frat boys," Luanne said. "Trust me. They're grateful and creative."-pg 17 ~"I know I what I did was wrong," I said. "And I know you might think I'm a stranger now, but I'm not. You know me. You know who I am. I promise you, it wasn't fake. Some of it might not have been true, but none of it was fake. Who I really am is someone who thinks you are the best person I've ever met. I am someone who doesn't want to let you go."-pg 255
Bookworm_Babblings More than 1 year ago
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Jenny Shaw’s life seems to be falling apart. She’s away at her first business trip, lost in her thoughts when someone shouts Jessie, but she hears Jenny. Instead of correcting the person, she decides to become her. Jenny’s life was more about pleasing others than doing what’s right for her. This was a chance at freedom for her. Not only that, but she gains Jessie’s tight knit group of friends, something she’s never had. This was a great story I think most of us can relate to. Life just seems to wear you down and you wish you could be someone else or have a reset button. When Jenny gets to know Jessie’s friends, there’s an instant connection. There was an emotional complexity to the story, moments you just wished you could tell Jenny it’ll be okay. My favorite character was Myra; she loved Jessie/Jenny, and treated her like time hadn’t passed at all. This was a fun, humorous read with lots of character. If you like Chick Lit, or just want a fun book that has you drawn in from the very beginning, then this is the book for you.
Andreat78 More than 1 year ago
In a statement that will surprise no one, Why Can't I Be You? is a story of identity. I'm not talking about mistaken identity, though that scenario is what sets the whole story rolling. At the heart of the book is a young woman been alone almost her entire life, desperate to belong: to someone, to something, anywhere. An impulsive decision leads Jenny down a path self-discovery, and leads her to where she belonged all along. I know what you must be thinking. How in the world could old friends mistake a complete stranger for their former best friend? That is exactly what I thought as I began reading, but the scenario made sense. Jenny/Jessie's friends had not seen her since graduation day, thirteen years before. Jessie left her friends confused and hurt by her hasty departure. I'm pretty sure my former best friend's would recognize me, and that realize some random chick with similar features was not me. People change a lot, but that is a bit of a stretch. However, Jenny looks a lot like Jessie, or at least how her friends think she may have matured, so it works. But, I believe the most important detail is that Myra, Heather, Robbie and Fish all saw who they wanted to see. They wanted Jessie to be there, they needed some sort of resolution. Though Jenny inadvertently gets involved with Jessie's friends, she can't help but bond with them instantly. At first it seems as if Jessie was the glue, the center of the group, and the leader. Well, she was the center, and the leader, but Jenny slowly discovers that Jessie was not always a good friend. Jessie left a pile of destruction when she left, but Jenny can fix that. She thinks. She also begins to fall for Fish, and you know that can't end well. But Jenny also comes to terms with some sad truths of her own life. And realizes that it's not to late to change her path. I know from the outside, Jenny must seem completely bananas for assuming another person's identity. She's not. Jenny's story broke my heart. She had horrible parents, no friends, an apathetic boyfriend. She's lonely, confused, and honestly just can't bear to disappoint Myra and the rest of the gang. And that is Jenny's biggest issue, the need to be whomever the person she's with needs her to be. Her mom, her boyfriend, her best friend...she molds herself to fit whatever form she feels will make that person happy. This crazy week in someone else's shoes is the catalyst for change. As for Myra, Heather, Robbie, and Fish, they were all great characters, people I would want in my life. Myra and Heather were so full of life and compassion. Robbie was the perfect brotherly type. And Fish is the guy we all deserve. No good story comes without it's pivotal scene, the moment of truth. That moment in Why Can't I Be You? was brilliantly written, and spurs some big changes of course. I think the author handled this perfectly. If dealt with lightly, it might make the story feel too trivial. If it's brutal and without a promise of a great future, then it's unsatisfying. Allie Larkin walked that line to perfection. Why Can't I Be You? is a story that I'm grateful to have read. It served some happy and light-hearted moments, some painful moments, made me think, and was an all-together beautiful book.
StephWard More than 1 year ago
Have you ever wanted to leave the old you behind and start a new life? Have you ever thought about pretending to be someone else - even just for a little while - because your real life is so pathetic and boring? That's what happens when Jenny Shaw finds herself recently dumped, out of town for a business trip, and mistakenly identified as a long lost friend at a high school reunion. Jenny embraces the identity mishap and embodies the person she envisions her look-alike - Jessie Morgan - to be. What happens after that is funny, unexpected, and might be exactly what Jenny had been yearning for all along. This was a fun, witty book that embodies that age old question and thought that circles everyone's mind - what would you do if you could be someone else? Jenny's escapades as Jessie are interesting and introspective at the same time. The writing was easy and conversational, which immediately sucked me into the book. I loved Jenny as the main character - her personality and witty inner dialogue instantly endeared her to me and I connected immediately with her on several levels. Her snarky attitude and humor mimic everyday concerns and ideas, so much that it felt like she was reading my mind at times. She is a realistic character - she's flawed and she knows it - and she also has to deal with everyday problems like healing a broken heart, a demanding alcoholic mother, bossy best friend, and the death of her dreams from years before. Not only is this a fun and charming novel, but it's one that makes you really think about the person you are, the person you once were, and the one you wish you could be. There are moments of clarity and insight mixed in with the snippy dialogue and comedic happenings throughout the story. The writing is expertly done in a way that ensnares the reader right from the beginning and will stay with them long after the book is done. Highly recommended for fans of women's fiction and humor novels. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
BuriedUnderBooks More than 1 year ago
I don’t often read what is often called “women’s fiction”, mainly because I spend so much of my reading time on genre fiction and also because I tend to resist that term and the other one that I find almost deprecating, “chick lit”. Let me say I have similar feelings about terms such as “men’s fiction”, especially when it’s portrayed as being so much more worthwhile than fiction for women. To me, it’s terribly short-sighted and demeaning to imply that women don’t enjoy stories that include action and violence and that men can’t enjoy tales with feelings and romance and even a little fluff. Years ago, a male customer in my bookstore announced very loudly that he never read anything by or about women because such books were not worth his time. I was appalled; his wife was clearly ashamed to be seen with him. I also had women customers who wouldn’t even try mysteries any more edgy than cozies. My point here is that this great divide is not just media flapping its gums but some readers also fall into their expected patterns. So what made me want to read Why Can’t I Be You? The description got my attention, the bit about pretending to be someone else because, be honest, who among us has not at some point wished to be someone else? I also liked the cover and, yes, I DO sometimes judge a book by its cover. I’m happy to say taking a chance on this was a great success. I really enjoyed this book, both the storyline and all the characters, every one of them, even the lout who dumped Jenny at the airport. Well, actually, there is one character I could not love but I’ll leave it up to you to ferret out which one that might be and how you connect to all these characters. My heart bled for Jenny, not so much because of her boyfriend’s behavior but for the real long-term pain in her life. I also understood how she could respond the way she did to the mistake Myra made because sometimes it’s just so much easier not to correct people’s errors, especially when it initially seems to be inconsequential. What really pulled me into this tale, though, was the relationship among these men and women who had not only maintained their friendship after high school but had nurtured it, allowing it to grow into real love from one to another. When Jenny becomes Jessie, that inconsequential response becomes very consequential indeed and the repercussions will have life-long effects. This is the first book by Allie Larkin I’ve read but it certainly won’t be the last. She is a writer who truly has a way with prose and I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with her characters and their stories. Many men would also find this very appealing, especially the bonds between the men in the group and between Fish and his dad. When all is said and done, this is a story of taking a chance on possibilities and finding one’s self. I have to admit to rampant curiosity, though—why is there no question mark at the end of the title??
girlfromwvirginia More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! it was the first book by Allie Larkin that I have read, and it won't be the last! I started reading and I couldn't put it down until I had read the whole thing. It centers around Jenny, who is lonely in her life. When someone mistakes her for Jessie, a girl who left unexpectedly after high school graduation, she doesn't correct them. She falls into a friendship she always has dreamt about. She finds a belonging she has always searched for. When a secret is found out, she has to figure out how to handle it. She has to figure out who she really is and the truth about who she is.
RandyLRB More than 1 year ago
Every once in a while when I finish a book, I am unable to do anything for hours. All I can do is sit and stare into space and think about what I've just read. This is one of those times. While attending a conference, Jenny Shaw hears someone call out "Jessie" and responds without thinking. She has been mistaken for Jessie Morgan, whom she resembles. Jenny is the child of an alcoholic mother, and has spent her whole life avoiding conflict. She lets herself be pushed around by family and friends so as not to not make waves. She is lonely and isolated, so she is swept away by Jessie's friends. I found this premise outlandish, but Allie Larkin executes it brilliantly. By the time I was halfway through the novel, *I* wanted Jessie's life and friends! Who HASN'T had a moment of "the grass is greener"? As "Jessie", Jenny allows herself to be more outgoing and assertive. She starts to feel a sense of belonging that she's never before experienced. In short, this book kind of broke my heart. I loved this author's first novel "Stay", and with this one, Ms. Larkin definitely avoids the "sophomore slump". An amazing and emotional read, and I would definitely recommend it to friends. I will be eagerly anticipating this author's next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Twink More than 1 year ago
Allie Larkin's latest book Why Can't I Be You? has just released and I have to tell you - I absolutely adored it! Jenny Shaw thinks she has a pretty good life. She doesn't love her job, but she thinks she's pretty good at it. And it looks like she's finally getting some recognition - she's being sent to a conference by her boss. Well, okay it's because her boss can't attend. And she's pretty sure her relationship with her boyfriend Deagan is about to go to that next level..... And it does, only it's not the level Jenny had envisioned. Deagan drops her off at the airport.....and drops her altogether, saying he needs to explore his feelings for another woman. Stunned, Jenny stumbles on the plane and heads to the conference. When she arrives at the conference centre, she thinks she hears someone calling her name....but they're saying Jessie. The woman is so glad to see 'Jessie' - she had no idea that she'd be attending the school reunion! And with that hug, our Jenny steps into someone else's past. It's been a number of years and they really do resemble each other - enough so that the group of friends from Jessie's past welcome her back into their circle. And though she knows she should come clean...."For a little while, I wanted to forget me." For this group of friends is warm and loving and fun - everything that Jessie realizes has been missing from her life. And with every day that goes by, it gets that much harder to admit the truth. Jenny was such a great character - she was the kind of person you'd like to really have as a friend. Larkin does a great job taking us on Jenny's journey to discover what she really wants and needs from her life. I laughed out loud, I empathized and I crossed my fingers, hoping for the best for Jenny. And for the rest of the cast as well. Larkin has also created a great group of supporting players, just as likable as Jenny.(And one is named Luanne!) I found myself often stopping to think about my own friends from high school as I turned pages. Yes, Why Can't I Be You definitely has chic lit elements, but it's much more than that. Larkin explores relationships - family, friends, co-workers and romantic all with a keen eye. "Nothing is as it seems, and then you get older and get to decide if you want to go back and see everything the way it really is or if you just want to move on." Does she get found out? You'll have to pick up the book to find out. I can totally see this book being made into a movie!
irishclaireKG More than 1 year ago
Rather Disappointing After "Stay" which I loved a great deal. Larkin is a terrific writer; her prose is taunt and fluid. She is a smart storyteller and her characters typically avoid cliche--except here I found myself getting annoyed with both the herione, Jenny, and the situation she gets herself into. While the reader certainly comes to understand why she does what she does--taking on another woman's identity at a class reunion--the premise seems stretched. I felt like it went on too long and after awhile, I didn't like her, the new circle of friends, or the plot. Maybe if this were cut in terms of length, I would have it enjoyed it more. Plus, there are too many obvious similarities to "Stay": herione with mother/family/loneliness issues, lovable dog (and a cat here), 'regular guy' love interest versus cowardly old flame...just not as engaging as her previous work. But i will keep an eye on Larkin; she has much more going for her than many other, much more popular writers out there