Tilly Farmer loves everything about her life. She loves her high school sweetheart husband, her job as a guidance counselor, and her residence in the same town she grew up in. She and her husband Tyler have decided to try and have a baby. As far as Tilly is concerned, her life is just about perfect. Then an old friend turns up in town, and Tilly gains the ability to see someone’s future when she looks at their photograph. In a matter of months, her perfect life has begun to unravel, and she has to face the uncomfortable truth that it may never have been perfect at all.
I went into this book with fairly low expectations. I know a lot of bloggers who really enjoyed this, but I usually am not a big fan of women’s fiction; people living in “my” world often don’t do it for me. I just mentioned this in another review, The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan. That didn’t happen here, and in fact I found myself really enjoying this novel, perhaps because Tilly is so very different from me that I might as well have been reading a book set in a fantasy world.
The truth that this novel revolves around is the fact that Tilly is willfuly blind. When the story starts, she expresses her enthusiasm for the high school prom and how eager she is to sponsor it. It’s very clear to us that she never quite got past high school and is constantly reliving those glory days every minute of her life. While helping students achieve their goals is admirable, Tilly never seems to have her own, and is instead content with what she has – or the illusion of it. She thinks it’s cute when her husband falls asleep watching sports instead of going to bed with her, believes her father has finished drinking, and tries to persuade her best friend to stay with her own high school sweetheart husband even though he’s cheated on her. Tilly needs that gift of clarity, and it’s only when she starts to confront the uneasy reality of her life that the whole book starts to shine.
What I think I liked most about this book is that it looks at what’s underneath the ideal American life. Tilly looks, sounds, and has even convinced herself that she’s happy. But she isn’t, and those issues only come out when you look a little closer. Her mother’s death, her father’s alcoholism, her dissatisfied and distanced husband, and even her own desire to take care of her siblings are all problems that she can only confront once reality is presented to her. She moves from contentment to happiness, which made the entire book a rewarding read. The ending is slightly open, but I was left with confidence that Tilly was on track to make the right decisions for her future.
The One That I Want left me eager to read more of Allison Winn Scotch’s work. If you enjoy women’s fiction, don’t miss this.
I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free from the Read It Forward program.