Sixteen-year-old Tamara has it all: an incredible house, rich parents, a group of friends, holidays under the sun, and she’s free to do whatever she wants. Her fall is all the more violent when she is forced to leave the city and move into her uncle’s house in the countryside where there is… not that much to do. Until a travelling library arrives and lets Tamara discover a mysterious book.
She will need to suspend her disbelief and prejudices to accept that this book might well change her tomorrows if she is willing to make changes – she has to if she wants to bring back a smile on her grieving mother’s face.
The summary was promising. As a book lover, I am convinced that stories can change lives and truly have an impact on readers. I was expecting a novel in this vein, a teenager discovering the power of literature, words and characters.
Unfortunately, this is not what I found in The Book of Tomorrow, which irritated me from the very first lines. I too had to suspend my disbelief to follow Ahern’s stereotypical characters on their journey. Tamara, in the throes of adolescence, is a real pain in the neck, so is her aunt who couldn’t be more cliché, while her uncle is a taciturn man whose terseness undoubtedly conceals a big heart full of love. And of course, there are teenage boys, because what would be a teenage girl without any sweet little romance?
It all starts as a contemporary novel, the author sets the scene and introduces us to her characters until the story really begins – around the hundredth page. Which means that you have to wait for quite some time before the “action” really picks up. Even then, the story goes back and forth between Tamara’s memories and her current decisions that make the plot move forward.
This usual setting and narrative devices made it all the more difficult for me to accept the introduction of magical elements. But why not? A contemporary novel about teenage years with a touch of magical realism… and then, the final twist. The pace suddenly quickens, a wave of revelations crashes on Tamara, who proves to be incredibly – and surprisingly – resilient and mature.
I just didn’t manage to get into the story and believe in what was being told. The Book of Tomorrow does broach important and interesting topics, especially regarding parent-child relationships, family secrets, what happiness really means and communication. But the author was trying too hard, her sentences sounded too unnatural to be true, as if ready-made to be written down in a quote notebook.
Cecelia Ahern certainly has her loyal readers, but I am probably not her target audience. I initially wanted to check out PS, I Love You, for it is so popular and said to have had a positive impact on many readers’ lives, but I am not sure I would enjoy this novel… Have you read these two books? Would you advise me to discover PS, I Love You despite my disappointment with The Book of Tomorrow?
I would also warn anyone going through grief that this book deals with heavy topics that might be triggering, especially in relation to the loss of a parent.
About the book
Author: Cecelia Ahern
Publication year: 2010
Page count: 432