My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I won this ARC from Crown Publishing's "Read It Forward" program. I requested it thinking that it would be something of a late-bloomer's coming of age story, which I love because as much as I love teen coming of age stories, it seems to me that the ones with adults finding themselves pack a little bit more of a punch and a bit of a deeper meaning. This story both was and wasn't what I'd thought and expected.
Tilly Farmer is stuck in a rut and doesn't even know it. She's 32 and describes her life as "perfect". She's lived in one town all of her life, loved one man all of her life, and her only goals are 1) to have a baby, 2) to stay perfectly happy in the same way as she is now, and 3) to plan prom. Again.
Until Tilly comes into contact with a fortune-teller who gives her the gift of "clarity", and soon afterward Tilly's life starts to fall apart around her.
This "clarity" is my main issue with the book. It's misleading. I felt misled. Tilly has created her own little perfect worldview and refuses to see things as they really are, deluding herself into thinking that the status quo is perfectly fine, and can't understand why others may not like it. She's a guidance counseller who doesn't understand why her students would want to move out and away from what she sees as the perfect town which allows for the perfect life. So I'd expected the "clarity" to give her insight into other people's perceptions and feelings, but instead it was more of a half-hint glimpse of the future that's coming without any context at all. I actually think that this part could have been switched to simple dreams, or a fortune-telling or removed altogether and the story wouldn't have suffered.
I couldn't identify with Tilly, and so I didn't really care what happened to her. I liked the secondary characters a LOT more than I liked her. At least they knew who they were and didn't delude themselves completely. The story didn't feel finished to me. I don't think that Tilly really came full circle and learned who she was. It seemed more to me like she just swapped one perfection-substitute for another.
I won't talk too much about the editing, because this was an uncorrected ARC, but I do want to mention one thing that bugged me - the author's almost melodramatic use of the word "broken" that Tilly uses to describe everything that isn't "perfect". Her friend is depressed because her husband was caught fooling around with his co-worker, she's broken. The townspeople have secrets, they're all broken, and the town's broken. It just seemed ridiculous to me to use that word for such mundane everyday stuff. True, you might feel broken when your life falls apart, but "broken" is so dramatic a word that it should be used sparingly when it fits, not for every little thing that goes wrong.
Anyway... This was an OK read. I think that it could have used a bit more fleshing out and plumping up of the characters, especially the main, but it wasn't bad.