Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Review: The One That I Want

Summary: Tilly Farmer is thirty-two years old and has the perfect life she always dreamed of: married to her high school sweetheart, working as a guidance counselor in her hometown, trying for a baby. Perfect.

In fact, on the surface you might never know how tough things used to be. At seventeen, Tilly lost her mother to cancer, her father drowned his grief in alcohol, and she played parent to her two younger sisters more often than being a kid herself. Still Tilly never let tragedy overtake her belief that hard work and good cheer could solve any problem. Of course she’s also spent a lifetime plastering a smile on her face and putting everyone else’s problems ahead of her own.

But that relentless happiness has served her well—her sisters are grown and content, her dad is ten years sober, and she’s helping her students achieve all their dreams while she and her husband, Tyler, start a family. A perfect life indeed.

Then one sweltering afternoon at the local fair, everything changes. Tilly wanders into the fortune teller’s tent and is greeted by an old childhood friend, now a psychic, who offers her more than just a reading. “I’m giving you the gift of clarity,” her friend says. “It’s what I always thought you needed.” And soon enough, Tilly starts seeing things: her father relapsing, staggering out of a bar with his car keys in hand; Tyler uprooting their happy, stable life, a packed U-Haul in their driveway; and even more disturbing, these visions start coming true. Suddenly Tilly’s perfect life, so meticulously mapped out, seems to be crumbling around her. And she’s not sure what’s more frightening: that she’s begun to see the future or what the future holds . . .

As Tilly furiously races to keep up with—and hopefully change—her destiny, she faces the question: Which is the life she wants? The one she’s carefully nursed for decades, or the one she never considered possible? -- Shaye Areheart Books

For some absolutely insane reason, I had never read a book by Allison Winn Scotch. I certainly have heard wonderful things about her first two novels, but it wasn't until I won an ARC of her latest novel THE ONE THAT I WANT from Ms. Winn Scotch's Facebook page that I actually sat down and read one. All I can say is that I've been missing out in a major way. I absolutely loved THE ONE THAT I WANT!

I admit that the first thing that attracted me to this novel was the cover, but when I read the book's description, I quickly realized that the plot sounded terrific as well. I was expecting a chick-lit type book (and in some ways it was), but I was pleasantly surprised by how deep this novel was too. I think Ms. Winn Scotch struck the perfect chord in THE ONE THAT I WANT.

THE ONE THAT I WANT is exactly the type of book that I adore. While I admit to enjoying a light read every now and then, I loved that this novel explored some serious topics such as the changes that occur in our lives as well as the ups and downs of relationships. I really appreciated how the author incorporated a magical element into this story. It was an extremely effective way to tell the story, and I didn't even find it out of the realm of possibility (I guess you could say that I found it somewhat believable!)

One of the main reasons I think this book resonated with me so much was because I loved the character of Tilly. On the outside, Tilly has everything -- the perfect life exactly as she has planned. She is married to her high-school sweetheart and even works as a guidance counselor at her high school. While in some ways I admired Tilly's sense of contentment, I could tell early on that she might be living her life with blinders on. When Tilly runs into an old classmate at the town fair, she discovers that she has been given the gift of clarity -- in other words, Tilly begins to see the future. Tilly quickly discovers that her life isn't at all as perfect as she thought.

While I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say THE ONE THAT I WANT is a coming-of-age novel because Tilly is thirty-two years old, in many ways, that's exactly what this book is. Tilly begins to see her life in an new way. She sees her father, her sisters, her friends, her job, her husband and even herself in an entirely new light; and she definitely doesn't like that her perfect world is turning upside down. What I loved about this book is how Tilly begins to realize things about herself and her relationships and ultimately learns to discover what she really wants.

I was thoroughly impressed with Ms. Winn Scotch's writing style. She had just the right amount of humor in the story to make it entertaining, but she also made this book surprisingly deep. I think she did a remarkable job of developing the character of Tilly. Tilly was kind of a mess, but a likable one! She was extremely complex, yet believable; and I think many women who read this novel will relate to her. I think the author captured Tilly's voice perfectly, and I also thought the dialogue was terrific. One other treat was how Ms. Winn Scotch incorporated plays, songs and lyrics into the story (especially all of the references to Grease!)

THE ONE THAT I WANT is a perfect discussion book for book clubs. I know the members of my group would love this story and I can't wait to share the novel with them. Needless to say, the character of Tilly is just begging to be analyzed. However, I also think there are many interesting themes to discuss such as relationships, change, identity, acceptance, forgiveness, and new beginnings to name just a few. Here's the link to the reading group guide in case you are interested.

If you are like me and unfamiliar with Ms. Winn Scotch's books, then I suggest that you get your hands on THE ONE THAT I WANT. I enjoyed it so much that I'm ordering her first two novels because I immediately wanted more!

Make sure you come back tomorrow because the author will be stopping by with a terrific guest post. I also have an extra copy of THE ONE THAT I WANT to share with one lucky reader.

Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of her novel.


Missy B. said...

I can't wait to read this! You need to read The Department of Lost and Found.....it's very good!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Don't feel bad, I've not read her either. But this book does sound amazing. I have found over the years that "women's fiction" can SO exceed my expectations. There are many of them that all seem the same, but a few rise to the top and blow me away. Katherine Center does that. Marisa de los Santos does that. It is fun to discover them amongst the stacks!

pinkflipflops said...

Wow, I didn't even get half-way through the description before I added it to my goodreads page! This sounds really good!

Mary said...

I'm so glad you loved this book. I read Time Of My Life a few months ago and really liked it so The One That I Want is on my tbr list.

Anna said...

Glad to see you liked this one. I really enjoyed Time of My Life, so when I saw that Allison Winn Scotch was signing this book at BEA, I just had to get it!

Diary of an Eccentric

Stacie said...

I think this sounds like a great read. I too am someone who makes everyone else happy before I take care of myself. Isn't that what being a mom is about? Ugh! When I saw the title, I immediately thought of the song from Grease, so laughed when I read your review and saw she included that in the book. I think I would love this book too! Sign me up! Staciele(at)netins(dot)net

writergal said...

I didn't love love the one that I want. her last two books are much better. I thought the first part of the book was a bit schmaltzy but Allison does have great ideas. my review: http://entertainmentrealm.com/2010/06/01/the-one-that-i-want-book-review/