Tamara Goodwin has it all…or rather had before her life took an unexpected detour to “I-wish-I-wasn’t-here”-ville. Living the life with family and friends, her days were spent in school, but her nights and weekends were for partying, jet setting, and living it up on the town until one day all the glitz and the glamour fell away to reveal a frightening truth that would shake her world to its core. It seems that while everything on the surface looked ordinary, trouble was brewing dark and deep, in this case…money trouble. Her father did his best to take care of it all but when things finally got the best of him; he sought the only exit he could see before it all came tumbling down around them.
His rash actions did not leave behind the intended results as his widow and child were now forced from their (non) humble abode and into the waiting arms of Arthur and Rosaleen Byrne…her mother’s brother and his wife. But things are not always what they seem, my dear friends as Tamara is soon to discover. Though the grounds are majestic, the house quaint, and the hospitality welcoming, she can sense an undercurrent of secrets and lies….just what or whom they are about though is anyone’s guess or at least it was until a certain book came into her life. This wasn’t just any book though; this was a journal and it held a special magic all its own. The question is will Tamara discover the secrets it truly holds before it’s too late?
What to say about this one without giving away the story! It left me in quite a quandary after I finished it. I mean…it’s just…how to put it…oh, here. Let’s get Rhino from Bolt to explain my general feelings. Rhino…if you’d please….
Really! There is no better way to describe it. This was my first adventure into this author’s work, though I had previously seen her book turned movie P.S. I Love You. For those that haven’t had the pleasure, it’s a heart wrenching tale of a love that knows no boundaries…even death…and the lengths to which one man will go to be certain his departure does not floor his love (as in the girl) for life. It’s beautiful. It’s memorable. It’s definitely one to have a box of tissues at the ready because you WILL cry. It’s not a guess…it’s a fact, trust me.
As so often (and easily) happens to us avid readers, I was distracted by something new and shiny and away these titles went to somewhere within the beast I fondly refer to as
When I saw this title being promoted, I was immediately taken aback by the cover art. Go ahead. Take another look. *waits* Beautiful isn’t it? It’s not that there is something dramatic going on or a dizzying amount of patterns to contend with; it’s the simple beauty that speaks to the ever curious soul. I mean just look at the colors…great choice...and that added detail where it looks like the page is being turned to reveal something sparkly and magical...perfect. Now I have an ARC copy and I’m enthralled by it but I might just have to get a hardbound copy of the book after seeing it in store because as beautiful as this one is….its even MORE lovely and comes complete with a ribbon bookmark like those leather clad classics of old. Marvelous. As for the genre choice…
The concerns that probably landed it in the “adult” section are few (some language here and there with teen outbursts…one scene sensual in nature…death) especially when compared to the plethora of other YA books with much more “worldly” content. It’s one of those cases where I truly hope that the categorization of the novel doesn’t cut it off from readers...as I’ve seen that happen before with a title I truly loved…originally it was in the same situation, but luckily upon the paperback’s release, it was sitting firmly on the YA shelf…whew! Now let’s talk story…
Aside from the beautiful (I know, I’m using that word a lot here, but it’s certainly warranted) descriptions of time and place that draw forth images AND emotion in one sweep of the eyes, the characters are completely tangible. Tamara was the snarky little sixteen year old feeling like a duck out of water due to her family’s quick move and change in lifestyle…not to mention the death of her father...always looking for something more. What she didn’t know is that some of the very things she was looking for were right in front of her the whole time, just rather well hidden by others keeping a VERY big secret.
Arthur and Rosaleen, while they certainly mean well, it’s obvious who wears the pants in the family (so to speak)…as is who is stable and who is not…O_O. Both of our young male love interests are written as half delinquent, half prince….Marcus, from the book bus just gets a bit more trouble than he bargained for while Weseley acts as Tamara’s partner in crime for many scenes later on. Let’s not forget about Sister Ignatius in all of this because really, she is in all of this more so than we know. Together they make an unusual family portrait to be certain but a family of sorts nonetheless based on their connections to each other through blood and acquaintance. So let’s talk details…
I bet you’re wondering if there is an actual “book of tomorrow” in the story...am I right? Fear not fair readers, there is though perhaps not as you might anticipate. Though its appearance has significance and it certainly plays its part in moving the story along in surprising ways, I was left wondering about the books actual origins. Where did it come from? Who had it before? Where was it when all the lies and secrets were being concocted? It sure could’ve saved this family a lot of grief…and one of them a bit of their sanity, though I couldn’t tell you how much since they are pretty far gone despite outward appearances.
What a fabulous idea for the mere fact that it helps bring literature to those families that are either without or far away from a library (the horror…)…and it doesn’t hurt that the young driver is rather dashing himself. Hello, Marcus! Though things get a bit sticky for this character later on, he has a heart of gold and the way he tries to take Tamara’s mind off her troubles with a “trip” to foreign lands will leave bookish readers with one question…can I have a “Marcus” too please? (Seriously! I have to find out where to find one…)
For as much beauty as there is though, there’s also plenty of mystery, secrets dark and buried deep, and…humor. No really…in the strangest of places you’ll happen upon a passage that you just can’t help but smile, laugh, or downright guffaw at. Take this one as Tamara recounts an encounter with some construction folks installing her family’s pool…
There was one guy, Steve, who kept trying to get a look at me in my bedroom while I was getting dressed. So one morning I really gave him something to look at. Don’t get the wrong impression; I took three hairpieces and pinned them to my bikini – you can guess where – and I took off my bathrobe and paraded around my room like Chewbacca, pretending I didn’t know he was looking. – pg 37 (ARC)
I’ll allow you a moment to compose yourself although I know it’s going to be very hard (hehe). I mean you can actually picture her doing this and well…you just get lost in the moment and laugh yourself silly; a big “no no” to Steve but a big “you go girl” to Tamara. I could literally quote at least one passage from each chapter and it would never get old…though I won’t to save you the trouble of reading it here and then once again in the actual book.
In the end, I believe it’s clear…I LOVED this book. It was surprising and beautiful (there’s that word again) in all the right ways and I can’t recommend it enough. There is one warning that I will pass on to you readers, the last chapters are a DOOZY. There is so much to absorb you may find yourself rereading a section or two, but don’t worry…it ties everything together quite nicely. Trust me.
Until next time…happy reading!