In The One That I Want, Tilly is 32-years-old and blithely happy. She’s a guidance counselor at a high school (which is perfect, since she absolutely loves prom), in love with her husband, Tyler, with whom she’s trying to have a baby, and living in her hometown. She comes across an old friend from junior high, Ashley, who’s a palm reader and gifts Tilly with “clarity”. Ashley seems to see something that Tilly doesn’t see, and insists this clarity is a gift that Tilly will eventually thank her for.
Instead of receiving a gift, Tilly starts seeing things before they happen, and what she sees she doesn’t like: her dad relapsing into alcoholism, her husband packing up a moving van, despite the fact they’ve both agreed that they’ll stay in this town indefinitely. At first Tilly tries to change these things that she sees, but she eventually realizes that she can’t change anything and she has to accept these things as they come. Tilly is so boxed in by what she thinks does and will make her happy, that these changes force her to reassess her life.
I initially found Tilly to be unlikable and annoying. Instead of trying to understand why her husband doesn’t want to live in this small town anymore, she tries to force him and guilt him into staying. She’s unable to see past her own desires and conceptions of the way things should be that she can’t see how the people around her really feel.
One of the things I love about Allison Winn Scotch is she brings up these universal questions: What if things were different? What if I hadn’t actually married this person, but instead married that person? What if my life doesn’t end up the way I imagine and hope and pray it does?
Allison Winn Scotch’s writing is just how I like it: fluid, effortless, with an undercurrent of humor. She makes writing look like something anyone could do, from her blog posts to her tweets to her novels. And yet I know from reading many many books that not everyone is as natural as she is.
If Tilly had been more likable, I would have liked The One That I Want more. I’m not saying I didn’t like it, because ultimately I did (like it), but I think some of the depth that I found in Time of My Life was lost in The One That I Want because Tilly was so self-involved. I expected Tilly to start out that way, but she showed no signs of changing until the book was well over half way through. I thought I might see small changes, small insights from the beginning and getting larger and more profound as the book progressed, but her bull headedness continued.
When Tilly finally did start changing, though, that’s when the book came together for me and I started really enjoying the story. Tilly has a revelation half way through that I loved:
…I wonder if being too satisfied with your life and becoming numb to it aren’t somehow intertwined. Like there isn’t something just as dangerous about playing it safe.
Because there are burdens that we bear together, and then there are burdens that we have to bear alone, but even those, the ones that we must forge ourselves, are easier to shoulder when we can sense the firm assuredness of our sister, of our friends, standing right beside us, holding us up in case we falter.
Like I said, I have some quibbles with the book, but they weren’t enough to make me not enjoy the book, and certainly not enough for me not to recommend this to you. I hope you pick this up, and if you do, let me know what you think!
If you do one thing today, make sure you follow Allison Winn Scotch on Twitter. If I could only follow one person on Twitter, she’d be it.
Also be sure to check out Allison’s blog; it’s fantastic.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this tour (yes, I begged to be on it). You can see the full tour schedule for Allison Winn Scotch’s tour here. Here’s the other tour hosts this week:
Tuesday, June 8th: Write Meg!
Wednesday, June 9th: Life in the Thumb
Thursday, June 10th: The Brain Lair
Buy The One That I Want from Powell’s today!