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“The Book Of Tomorrow” by Cecelia Ahern

Tamara Goodwin is a spoiled little rich brat. A spoiled little rich brat whose father committed suicide over ruined finances, leaving her and her mother to move into nowhere’s-ville Ireland in a small gatehouse attached to the grounds of a ruined castle with her Mom’s brother and sister-in-law while the bank possesses the hundred acre mansion they used to live in and takes Tamara away from the familiarity of the life she had there.

The life she had there.  So much simpler than the life and future she has here.

At first it’s all the stuff rich teenage nightmares are made out of: Aunt Rosaleen is a prim, proper country woman who runs a tidy house and three carb-driven, calorie-dense meals a day she expects Tamara to eat.  Her mother just stays in her room every day, all day either sleeping or staring out of the window, muttering things that don’t quite make sense to Tamara. Uncle Arthur communicates in a series of growls and grunts, which makes Tamara believe him to be simple at first, but then she changes her mind when she thinks more about it. “Nobody who says as little as he does is as simple as you think. It takes a lot not to say a lot, because when you’re not talking, you’re thinking….talkers don’t think much; their words drown out any possibility of hearing their subconscious.” The book is sprinkled with insights like this throughout.

But back to life in the “sticks” with Tamara Goodwin- completely uncomfortable, hot sun, very dead (Cecelia Ahern loves to sprinkle such ‘redundant phrases’ as a play on Tamara’s name throughout the book).   So here she is hours away from her friends, her life, grieving that she’s lost the chance to lose her virginity like her friends have……and she meets Marcus, age 22 and quite handsome,  and his Traveling Library.  She manages to talk him into giving her a ride into the next place which passes for a “town” and, while hanging out in the back of the bus full of books, finds a leather-bound padlocked book that comes to her attention (and yes, The Book of Tomorrow).

While coming home from her trip with Marcus- her Aunt Rosealeen screaming bloody murder she didn’t know where the hell she went!- she meets Sister Ignatius “dressed in what appeared to be a spacesuit, her head covered in a black veil….I waited for her to tell me that I was Luke and she was my father.” The Sister tends to a beautiful secret garden and bees and takes Tamara to a small chapel near the castle ruins to break the lock on the book.

Before she even opens the book, there’s already a lot of strange things going on in the book. First- why does Rosealeen snatch up the mail so fast and hide the picture book Tamara found one day, but didn’t get to open because that’s when Marcus came by? Who is Sister Ignatius and why is Rosealeen so freaked out about them meeting? Why did everyone suddenly get so quiet and uncomfortable when Tamara mentioned her Mom and her brother didn’t look a thing alike?   Why are Rosaleen and Arthur just locking her Mom away without trying to talk to her, or even visiting her except to bring her the meals?  What exactly happened to that castle and when was it ruined?  Who did it belong to?  Why keep up the gardens if no one’s living there?

Then we get to the diary- in which a journal entry always appears for the next day, written about things that happen tomorrow.  Perhaps it can help Tamara reveal whatever history is being hidden from her? To a degree, things happen just the way the diary says it does. Except for the parts where Tamara takes an active role in changing them- like NOT being caught out in a rainstorm and catching a cold, or exploring the house while everyone’s away at mass instead of neglecting to do it, like she lamented in the diary.  She even tried to hide the story about her Dad from Wesely, a boy the diary told her she would meet in the ruins of the castle, but “I learned something that night. You shouldn’t try to stop everything from happening. Sometimes you’re supposed to feel awkward. Sometimes you’re supposed to be vulnerable in front of people. Sometimes it’s necessary because it’s all part of you getting to the next part of yourself, the next day.”

This book was a lot less about a Future-Telling-Book-of-Tomorrow than it was about the process and impact of grief, Tamara changing and taking matters into her own hands, how just one event can set up a domino effect that change people’s entire lives, and just how much one person can affect another.  This was less about a futuristic book of tomorrow…more of one hell of a soap opera, aided by a futuristic book of tomorrow.

I loved it. I loved how it kept you interested the entire way through, as it’s shrouded with so much mystery and so many questions you just feel compelled to keep going to find the answers. I also love the wisdom that’s spread throughout the book about the nature of people, the nature of death, of growth, of pain, of lying, of society, and of families.

“The diary helped me discovery the secrets, but also made me a better person…it helped me realize that there are tomorrows. Before, I only concentrated on today. I would say and do things in order to get what I wanted then. I never gave a second thought to how the rest of the dominoes would fall. The diary helped me see how one thing affects another. How I can actually make a difference in my life and in other people’s lives.”

And that…pretty much….sums it up.

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