“It’s crazy, it’s surreal, it’s daunting. Mostly, it feels akin to being pregnant for eight and a half months, then looking in the mirror and suddenly realizing that there’s no turning back: you’re having this baby and you’re having it soon!”
~Allison Winn Scotch, via her 5/25 blog
Isn’t it something we’ve all wished for at some point in our lives? Clarity in regard to a decision we must make, a choice we’ve already made, or perhaps something else entirely – that insight we crave, the answers to the questions we may not have even realized we had. In a way, it’s a monumental theme that can tie everyone together, that common thread that can be interwoven between people, even when the idea of clarity means something unique for each person. It’s also one of the main messages in Allison’s new book The One That I Want, which was released earlier this month.
I know a good deal of my posts lately have been about authors and novels, but I couldn’t resist doing a separate entry on what is easily one of my favorite books that I’ve read all year. Like I mentioned in my previous post, Allison has an incredible propensity for crafting novels that not only pull you into the story, but also make you relate it to your own life, sometimes without even thinking twice. I would be reading a scene in TOTIW, entirely absorbed by the characters’ world, when I’d suddenly find myself thinking about how a choice Tilly (the main character) made could apply to one I have – or haven’t – made myself. And it’s not just Tilly who’s so relatable. It’s all of the characters. They’re human, they’re real, they’re images of who we are as people. And, something I think is the mark of a truly talented author (which Allison is – seriously, go buy her books!!), it’s easy to relate to parts of almost every character. That’s one of the things that intrigued me the most about Allison’s most recent novel. The characters paint a picture that goes all the way across the spectrum. Many of them are different in important ways, yet I found myself both understanding and relating to so many of them.
There’s Tilly, the small town girl who let some of her big dreams fall by the wayside. There’s her husband Tyler, who has done the same … until now. There’s her sister Darcy, who learns that sometimes those big dreams, the ones you thought were going to take you to new places, end up bringing you right back where you belong. There’s her advisee CJ, a high school senior whose perspective is imbued with hope and light. That’s just a sampling of the diverse characters who Allison portrays with such ease. She has the ability to make us understand her characters’ motivations, even when we don’t agree with their decisions. And, as always, her book tells a story that resonates long after the final page is read. The ideas remain, the implications for our own lives resound in our minds as we consider not only the characters’ journeys, but also our own.
I don’t want to say too much about the plot and ruin it for everyone, so I’ll just go with this: TOTIW does an amazing job of highlighting so many important lessons. Tilly was happy with her life. She thought she had everything she wanted, until the gift of clarity – via a fortune teller who used to be a close childhood friend – turns her world upside down. Suddenly parts of Tilly’s life come into clearer, sharper focus, the snapshots begininng to change. And that’s not just true for Tilly, but many of the other characters who fill the pages of this wonderful novel. They all evaluate their hopes, dreams, and the paths that could take them there – and in doing so, they inspire the reader to do exactly the same. That’s one of the things I love most in any book, and Allison’s writing prowess only made it even more of a joy to read.
Reading Allison’s blog, it’s been easy to see what a journey she goes on through the writing and publication process. I LOVED her quote comparing a book’s release to the birth of a baby, because in a way, that’s what every book is like for a writer (well, at least for me, and I’d imagine anyone who spends so long working on a “labor of love” would feel similarly). Each novel is special, different, a work of heart and a baby who will (fingers crossed!) one day be out there in the world. The One That I Want didn’t just only give me a fantastic, compelling book to get lost in, but also a reminder of everything I’m striving for. I guess you could say it gave me the gift of clarity all over again.
What about you? If you could see into your future like Tilly does, would you want to? And what do you think clarity would help you realize?