Tilly Farmer loves her life. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, she’s a guidance counselor at the local high school and gets to plan prom every year, and at 32, everything’s in place to try for a baby. But then a chance encounter with a high school friend changes everything. Because old traumas – her father’s alcoholism, her mother’s death, her younger sisters’ carelessness – are all coming to the surface and even Tilly’s relentless happiness can’t keep them at bay forever.
I was really excited to read this one because I loved the high concept premise and surprising depth of TIME OF MY LIFE (read my review). This one’s also got a bit of magic realism – the fact that after meeting her old friend, Tilly can see scenes from her future. All of this is supposed to give Tilly clarity – or so her former friend says. But Tilly just thinks it’s ruining her life, and she wants the visions to stop – especially when she sees her husband packing up the house to move…
You see Tilly is a homebody - someone who loves her small-town life and is unwilling to uproot. This is partly because of her tough family history, and I really sympathized with Tilly for that part of her story. I know all about being the oldest sibling and trying to hold everything together after a tragedy. But that’s about where the sympathy – and my similarities with Tilly – ended.
Though there were a host of things that Tilly said or did that I found incomprehensible, what disturbed me the most was the way she treated her husband, Tyler. He obviously longs to do something more with his life, something that can’t be done in their small town, and has put his dreams on hold for Tilly's sake for years. Tilly won’t even consider moving, and she shuts him out so completely, it’s not hard to feel sorry for the guy. Ok, so he ends up making some pretty cowardly decisions, but despite all the “clarity” Tilly manages to find over the course of the novel, she never recognizes her own failures where Tyler is concerned.
So while I did appreciate Scotch’s deft observations about small-town life and the ways in which we can all get ourselves stuck, my dislike of Tilly eventually left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m still upset when I think about Tilly did at the end. Ugh!! I hope you will like her more than I did!