Skip to main content

Review: The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch

I got a galley of Allison Winn Scotch's upcoming book The One That I Want the DAY before I left on vacation. I've enjoyed Allison's first two books, The Department of Lost and Found and Time of My Life. I've also followed along as she transitioned from freelance writer to novelist (she still freelances but not that the level she used to), so I feel a separate sort of joy in reading her work.

The One That I Want is about Tilly Farmer, a 32-year old high school guidance counselor who works at the same school where she was once a student. She married her high school sweetheart, settled in that same town, and expected her life to spool out from there.

But everything's not OK in Tilly's world. First, her mother died of cancer when Tilly was in high school, which tore apart her family. It kicked off her father's drinking problem. Her younger sister became one of those stick thin aspiring musicians who ran off to Los Angeles at the first chance and comes storming back into town to raise everyone's hackles. Tilly and her husband have fallen into a well worn groove, and while Tilly thinks everything's perfect, it's not.

This unease is amplified when a chance meeting with a forgotten middle school friend enables Tilly with a curse/gift. She can flash forward to see what happens to people in her life, which sets the novel in motion.

It's a good book. I read the first 150 pages on the plane. It's better than Allison's first novel, but I liked Time of My Life better - it was my top fiction choice of 2009. I don't have a lot in common with Tilly Farmer. While I wasn't itching to get out of dodge after college, I didn't want to continue the life I had before. I "got" Jillian Westfield, protagonist of Time of My Life, more. Jillian is allowed to see what would have happened to her life if she'd stayed with the bad boy instead of settling down with someone else. When I read it, I was wondering the same thing about the former badboy (read: asshole) from my past. I thought about that book for weeks after it was over. This one? Not so much.

But that doesn't mean it's not a good book. I know plenty of women like Tilly Farmer who will have the same experience I did when reading about Jillian Westfield. And for a beach book, it's perfect - a quick yet thoughtful read. It comes out at the perfect time, too - June 1.

So have you ever had the same experience? Where you like one author's works better than others based on whether you can identify with the main character?

P.S. Forgot to add the pic of where I read the rest of the book. Ah, vacation...so soon a memory.

Comments

Trish Ryan said…
Interesting perspective--I never thought about how sometimes, when you have a different a reaction to a book by an author you've liked before, it's not about the story so much as where you are in your life when you read it.

Nicely done.
Jen A. Miller said…
Trish - It doesn't happen often. Time of My Life was one of those books that shocked me to my core, so it was bound to happen (and, yes, I did chat with Allison before I wrote this review!)
Anonymous said…
I love your honesty and I have to agree -- I'm more likely to love a book if I identify with the main character, but I can still like it and appreciate good writing, like you have. Can't wait to read Allison's latest, and the one she's working on now about a woman who loses her memory and must rely on others to fill in the gaps.
Hey guys!
I TOTALLY see what Jen means, and I feel the same way about books, so I think this is very fair - I don't always "click" with a character, but that doesn't mean a book wasn't good - it just means that my take-away was different than what someone else's would be.
Thanks for writing this up, Jen!
Allison
wishful nals said…
thanks so much for sharing!

Popular posts from this blog

Book 23 of 52: Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

More romance? Of course! The world is on fire, and I can't ingest all the fires all the time. Sometimes I want to turn to genre fiction as an escape, even if an escape is into a patriarchal society where it's SCANDAL that a woman sometimes, when riding a horse, wears pants. Because of Miss Bridgerton is the first book in Julia Quinn's Rokesbys Series , which are prequels to her enormously popular  Bridgerton Series  (and now a  Netflix show ). These books are similar, of course, but instead being set in the Recency era of the 1810s, these books take place at the same time as the American Revolution (though still in England).  Here we meet Sybilla "Bille" Bridergton, who is stuck on the roof of a building because she chased a cat up there. She climbed up herself (scandalous woman!) but also twisted her ankle in the process, which is why she needs help to get down.  That help comes from George Rokesby. Their families are neighbors, and they've known each other

Book 12 of 52: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

Marjane Satrapi is an author and graphic novelist who grew up in Iran and, as a tween and teen, lived in the country through  the Iranian Revolution before her parents sent her to Europe for school, and for her safety.  As an adult, she wrote Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood ,  a nonfiction graphic novel, originally in French. I read the English translation, which was published in 2003, three years after the original. It was a critical success, won a slew of awards, and became a movie . I haven't read the sequel, Persepolis 2 , but I hope to (you can also  buy them in a set . I found Persepolis  in a Little Free Library, or I'd have bought them combined).  In the tradition of Art Spiegelman's  Maus , which is about the author's father talking to him about the Holocaust,  Persepolis  is a memoir of trauma told through a mix of images and words that when combined, combust into powerful, beautiful and soul cracking art.  For example, Satrapi portrays the 1978 Cinema R

Book 26 of 52: The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor — the Truth and the Turmoil by Tina Brown

I'm not going to write a long review of Tina Brown's The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor — the Truth and the Turmoil  for two reasons. First, it's been hashed to death already, as anything about the royals is, by people who are far more invested in this whole thing than I am. And second, I'm in the frantic "do I really need a jean jacket AND a windbreaker" level of packing before a long trip. I can say that I didn't mind listening to this nearly 18 hour audiobook while the rest of the world is on fire, although of course they are not insulated. We can pretend that the Royal Family lives in a bubble, but they are enormously influential; touched by the same issues of race, class and gender; and Queen Elizabeth II is one of most influential politicians of modern times — and she is a politician, no matter what anyone says. Her death will be a global, cultural moment. Same thing with the Pope, on both fronts. I listened to Brown's  The Diana Chro