This book was on my Christmas want list for my parents and I didn’t get it, but I scored four Groupon deals for Barnes & Noble at the start of the year and bought it with those. I should have expected less than I did because I am 90% sure now that it was a clearance book, but still… I try to reserve my judgment for books until I’ve finished them, or at least started them.
There’s not much I can say about this book. It’s the story of Tilly Farmer, who is 32 and married to her high school sweetheart. By all accounts, her life is seemingly perfect: her husband was the high school’s best football player; she was a cheerleader. Her mom has died, but she has grieved. She has two sisters who she sees and talks to and keeps good relationships with. Her dad is a recovered alcoholic. And then one day, she goes to the local fair with her best friend and an old high school friends, who is a fortune teller, gives her the gift of clarity. Suddenly, Tilly starts seeing things — her father at a bar, and her husband packing a U-Haul. Before she knows it, her life is spiraling out of control with her father, her husband, her sister, and even the fortune teller herself.
I’m warning you, there are spoilers in the rest of this post.
All right, you have been sufficiently warned.
Okay, I this is totally a book that I would love. Except I didn’t. I didn’t hate it, but I also wouldn’t recommend it to others. As I was reading, I kept making notes about it in my iPhone, and when I finished it today, I couldn’t help but notice that I had written the same comment multiple times: “Very forced relationship with Ashley” (the fortune teller). “Tilly’s reactions to Ashley are so sudden and forced that it’s shockingly bad.” “Relationship between Tilly and Susanna [the best friend] seems too forced.” Relationship with Eli forced and predictable.”
Yeah. So honestly, I think it’s safe for me to say that this book was entirely too forced for me to enjoy. And when things weren’t being forced, and sometimes when they were, it was so predictable. It was like a book I’d read before because I figured out the plot points way too easily and could see the book unfolding way to simply. (And no, Ashely did not give me the gift of clarity.)
Besides the predictability, I never actually felt for Tilly. In fact, I found both her and Tyler, her husband, to be selfish and annoying the entire 270 pages of this book. Also, there were some super awkward pregnancy references: “coiling into myself like a fetus,” “the clouds were pregnant with rain.” These would have simply been cliche on their own, but given the fact that Tilly is struggling to get pregnant, they just seemed so ultra-cheesy.
There is one part that I liked, and that was one of Tilly’s students, CJ, who desperately wanted to get out of their small town. I didn’t grow up in a small town — rather, an average one — but I get it. A lot of people in my town really, really wanted to get out of here when we were younger. So I loved what Tilly thinks at the end, and yes, I am going to quote basically an entire page of this book because I think it was well-said:
I would tell her, I think, standing in here in the hallway, as I feel the damp spread of tears across my cheeks, that life is limitless, that fear is conquerable, that if you stay concealed in the shadows, you’ll never be seen. That spending the better part of your days trying to fix people might be admirable; no, in fact, it is admirable, but only when you’re not doing so to avoid fixing yourself. You can plug up all the holes in a boat, but if you never learn how to navigate the choppy waters, you still may drown. I would tell her that dreams can be small, but they are still dreams, even if it is to taste an escargot in Paris or snap a timeless image of the Eiffel Tower or run down the Champs-Elysées, gaping at the too-expensive stores, the night air on your back, the lights and the stars and the electricity palpably charging around you. Even, I realize, as I stare at Tyler’s grinning adolescent face, if it is to coach a college team to victory because you’ll never again feel the snap of the bat and the rush from the cheer of the crowd and the dry dirt agaist your cheek as you slide into home plate.
I would tell her many things, I think, before I finally steer myself away. Mostly, I’d tell her that it isn’t too late. That the years are long and the road is winding and that dreams float out there to be captured, but only if you’re brave enough to reach up and grasp them.