My name is Tamara Goodwin. Goodwin . . . Sometimes when telling people my name I drop a syllable: Tamara Good, which is ironic as I've never been anything of the sort . . . (p. 3)
There's something about the Irish that makes them natural born storytellers, on and off the page - and Cecelia Ahern is no exception to that rule. This young, prolific, Irish born-and-bred author has become so successful that she's branded her own name. She writes everything from short stories to novels turned screenplays (P.S. I Love You), and she even created the television show Samantha Who?
I must admit that I never read Ahern's work before THE BOOK OF TOMORROW, but I was pleasantly surprised by this, her latest novel. It's the story of Tamara Goodwin, a rich and spoiled 16 year-old whose life is suddenly turned upside- down when her father commits suicide. He dies bankrupt and leaves behind a mountain of debt. This forces Tamara and her stunned, grief-addled mother to vacate their foreclosed mansion in Dublin and move in with distant relatives in an old farmhouse in County Meath (the rural countryside of Ireland). For Tamara, living in a place without her friends, Facebook and Twitter -- and living with a dictatorial aunt and hen-pecked uncle in the middle of nowhere -- is a living hell. But when a cute guy manning the traveling library truck acccidentally enters Tamara's life, things begin to change.
Tamara not only checks out the cute guy from the lending library, but she also checks out a leather-bound, padlocked book, void of title or author name. When she pries the book open, she discovers entries written in her own handwriting and dated for the next day - as if a diary penned twenty-fours in the future (hence the whole "tomorrow" tie-in of the title akin to the protagonist's name). Tamara, while at first skeptical, soon puts the powers of the book to work in order to help her solve the mystery of her father's death, why her mother seems to be plunging deeper into an almost comatose level of grief, and the very strange behaviors of her aunt and uncle. Add to the mix ruins of a burned down castle, an ancient (and charming) bee-keeping nun privy to Tamara's family history and many painful secrets, and Ahern spins this coming-of-age tale into one of magical suspense.
The mystery elements of the story certainly kept me turning pages, but it was the first-person narrative voice of Tamara that hooked me. Her grit, rebellion, and the flares of her sarcasm shed light on how a spoiled teenager navigates through the dark passageways of grief and loss - and that's what made me eager to suspend my disbelief at the fantasy elements of the plot and savor all 310 pages of this intriguing story.
NOTE: This book was reviewed via an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of the novel as provided by HarperCollins.
The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780061706301, 320pp.)
Publication Date: February 2011
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