I will admit I read some reviews of this book before I started reading it, big mistake! For the first few chapters I couldn’t get the negative reviews out of my head and, even worse, I was starting to agree with them. I was being over critical of everything in order to make this book live up to its bad reviews. I was over 100 pages into the book before I allowed myself to like it, and over 150 pages into the book before I allowed myself to LOVE it. But love it I did.
The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern
To me this book was half Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman, and half The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (two of my favorite books). It has all the charm and heart wrenching family drama of CeeCee Honeycutt combined with all the mysteries and secrets of The Distant Hours… not to mention a crumbly old castle filled with secrets of its own.
Tamara’s father has just committed suicide and the bank has taken their house… their great big house with the swimming pool, tennis court, and private beach. She and her mother (who has become basically catatonic) are forced to move to Kilsaney, or hickville, as Tamara puts it, with her aunt and uncle. The only upside to this is that they live in the gatehouse on the grounds of the old Kilsaney castle. The castle itself is more of a ruin; it’s been through several fires, the roof is missing in most places, and many of the walls have come tumbling down. But Tamara instantly loves it, she understands what it’s like to be broken.
The other upside is Marcus and the traveling library. Tamara likes Marcus. She clambers aboard his book van and checks out a locked book with no author and no title. When she finally gets it open she discovers the pages are blank. Sister Ignatius, an elderly nun who lives in a small covenant near the castle, who practices beekeeping and tends to the secret garden, suggests she use it as a diary. Tamara finally cracks it open a few days later, intent on spilling her emotions to the old book, and is surprised to see an entry, written in her own handwriting, on a page that had definitely been blank. Even more strange is that the entry is dated as the next day, tomorrow, and accurately describes all the events of today.
From there it’s a whirlwind of secrets and suspicions, revelations of past and present, and I couldn’t have put the book down if I wanted to. Seriously, it was 4AM, but I had to finish. Tamara takes it upon herself to save her mom from grief, all the while trying to save herself from guilt. She knows her aunt it hiding something (okay, like 10 things) and will stop at nothing to find out what it is. The secret takes her from the crumbling castle to the mysterious bungalow across the street filled with glass wind chimes and occupied by a stranger. The truth will shake her world more than she ever could have imagined but also gives her a second chance.
First of all, I can understand how some people might not love this book. Tamara is… unpleasant. She’s a spoiled rotten, ungrateful, pompous teenage girl. She’s quick with the attitude and never apologizes for anything. When she feels hurt she makes sure everyone around her feels hurt too. She’s a little bit promiscuous and tends to participate in underage drinking a bit too often. She isn’t exactly lady-like, she cusses, she’s inappropriate and unappreciative. She rarely thinks of anyone but herself. Her one redeeming quality is that she knows all this about herself… and sometimes she feels bad about it.
When it comes right down to it I can relate to Tamara, I know what it’s like to be in high school and to be judged by your friends. I know what it’s like to be an angry teenager with no control over their life. For that reason I didn’t dislike Tamara as much as I understood her, and I was proud when her character learned to see the world differently. She doesn’t always make the right decisions, or follow any line of logic for that matter, she’s impulsive and allows her emotions to dictate her choices, and that’s what makes her believable.
A great book from start to finish, filled with great characters. A coming of age tale mixed with family horrors, buried secrets, a crumbly old castle, and a magic book. Highly recommend!