The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern is, I think, a crossover novel. Although published by Harper's adult division, it features a teenage main character, and reads like a young adult novel. (Though with some sexual behavior and profanity - not a book for younger teens).
What drew me to The Book of Tomorrow was the premise. Wealthy, spoiled British teenager Tamara Goodwin finds her life completely changed when her father commits suicide. Left in debt, Tamara and her mother are forced to move to the small country home of Tamara's uncle and aunt. Tamara's mother retreats into herself, her uncle apparently never talks, and her aunt, Rosaleen is clearly keeping secrets. Tamara is struggling with all of this when she discovers a strange, old book. Each day, she finds, in her own handwriting, diary entries about the next day. By following these diary entries, Tamara is able to change some things, and to eventually uncover her family's secrets.
It's a fascinating premise. What if you could get a little window into the events of tomorrow, and what did and didn't work? So that when tomorrow came, you'd be prepared, and could fix the things that didn't work. It's a bit like Groundhog Day, but with more ongoing developments.
Tamara starts out a bit of a spoiled brat. She recognizes this in herself, though, and is working to improve. Because her circumstances are so extreme, I was willing to cut her some slack early on, and I quite liked her by the end of the end of the book.
I thought that Ahern did a good job of dropping clues to the mysteries. The reader can figure out what's going on, but not too soon.The book's setting, a small hamlet next to a crumbling castle, is perfect for the tone of the story. And I quite liked Ahern's writing style. She has a real flair for the descriptive, especially when it comes to people. Here are some examples:
"I loved him, of course, but I know my dad wasn't a good man. He and I rarely spoke and when we did it was to argue over something, or he was giving me money to rid of me. He was prickly, he snapped often, and he had a temper that flared easily. He forced his opinions on others and was rather arrogant. He made people feel uncomfortable, and inferior, and he enjoyed that." (Page 5, ARC)
"Rosaleen has the depth of a shot glass. Everything she talks about is totally irrelevant, unnecessary. The weather. The sad news about a poor person on the other side of the world. Her friend down the road who has broken her arm, or who has a father with two months to live, or ... " (Page 12, ARC)
"He seems like a simple man, only I don't really believe that. Nobody who says as little as he does is as simple as you'd think. It takes a lot not to say a lot, because when you're not talking, you're thinking, and he thinks a lot." (Page 18, ARC)
"Me too!" I knew my excitement was too much Famous Five. "Sorry," I felt my face flush. (Page 163, ARC)
I like that Tamara casually compares herself to children's book characters (there's another reference in which she likens herself to Violet Beauregard from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), even though she's not actually much of a reader. There are also some lovely descriptions of the woods around the abandoned castle.
The Book of Tomorrow has a distinctive (if not always nice) main character, a thought-provoking premise, and fully realized descriptions of secondary characters and setting. It's a book to read in one sitting, if you can, completely losing yourself in Tamara's Book of Tomorrow. Although published for adults, this is a book that should please older teens, especially girls. Recommended.
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: January 25, 2011
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher. Quotes should be checked against the final book.
© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).