The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch
Shaye Areheart Books, 2010
First edition, hardcover
This is the second of Allison's novels I've read (click HERE for my review of Time of My Life), and of the two, I think I enjoyed this one a tad bit more. I loved TOML, but TOTIW had more depth to it. More depth to the characters and more depth to the story.
When we meet Tilly Farmer she is living in a bubble of self-denial. She thinks her life is perfect. She thinks her life plan is perfect. She is married to her high school sweetheart. She works as a guidance counselor for the local high school. She is helping to put together this year's prom and the musical-- fun fun fun! And she is trying for her first baby.
It was clear to me from the start that all of these things she considered "perfect" were no doubt going to blow up in her face at some point. And I was right. Plus a few other things along the way.
In the title, The One That I Want, "one" refers to "life." Tilly's journey makes her question what life she truly wants to live. The one she thinks is already perfect (but clearly not, as she soon discovers)? Or the one she's been too afraid to try?
And who of us hasn't questioned that at some point, in some manner or another?
This story is mainly about relationships. We focus on Tilly and her high-school-sweetheart-husband, Tilly and her alcoholic father, Tilly and her dead mother, Tilly and her two (very different) sisters, Tilly and the baby she wants to have, Tilly and the charming new art teacher, Tilly and her best friend, Tilly and her ex-best-friend-turned-fortune-teller....
It's that final one that pushes Tilly into the events that change her life. After unintentionally finding Ashley in a fortune-teller's tent, Tilly is blessed/cursed with "clarity." She starts having weird visions of the future, visions that portray events involving the people closest to her. Sometimes these are clearly bad things, and sometimes she isn't sure whether it's bad or good.
Although these visions are crucial to the plot, this is not a fantasy story. This is magic realism at it's finest. The story is not about her seeing things in the future. There is no scary voodoo or incantations or anything like that. She simply sees glimpses of things that force her into decision-making.
The thing that kept me turning pages at an accelerated rate was the mystery of what these visions meant, how they all tied together, and ultimately, what Tilly was going to do once she figured it all out. I also really enjoyed her reflections on life and the parallels made between Tilly and the other characters, such as CJ, one of the senior students who frequents her office.
As with Time of My Life, Allison's signature writing style in The One That I Want is pleasantly fluid, easy to digest, and the cover art is equally awesome (so much so that the two almost look like companion novels, but don't be fooled-- these are completely different stories about completely different characters). Highly recommended for adults, especially women. 5 of 5 stars.
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The One That I Want will be available in paperback on June 28.