By Cecelia Ahern
US publishing date: 25 January 2011 by HarperCollins
First published 2009
Read: 5 - 16 March 2011
E-galley provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
From the publisher
Born into the lap of luxury, comfortable in the here and now, spoiled, tempestuous sixteen-year-old Tamara Goodwin has never had to look toward tomorrow. Until the abrupt death of her father irrevocably shakes her world. Suddenly all that’s left of Tamara’s old life is a mountain of debt, and she and her mother are forced to move in with Tamara’s uncle and aunt a million miles away from the world she knows.
In this tiny village in the Irish countryside, with no access to Facebook or Twitter, Tamara is lonely and bored—her only diversion is a traveling library run by a cute local boy named Marcus. There she finds a large leatherbound book with a gold clasp and padlock, but no author name or title. Intrigued, she pries the lock open. And what she finds inside takes her breath away.
Tamara finds entries written in her handwriting and dated for the next day. At first, she’s skeptical. But when the next day happens exactly as recorded, Tamara realizes she’s found a way to solve mysteries that are seemingly out of her control, like what is wrong with her mother and why won’t they let the local doctor examine her? And why does her meek Aunt Rosaleen rip the mail out of her hands, prevent her from seeing her mother, and evade questions about their mysterious neighbor? Determined to find answers, Tamara learns that some pages are better left unturned and that, try as she might, she can’t interfere with fate.
This is the first book I have read by Cecelia Ahern, and I had heard mixed reviews of it beforehand, so I didn't really have any high expectations. Maybe this was a good thing; I don't know, but either way I was pleasantly surprised right from the beginning.
Even though the narrator Tamara is in her teens, the book is categorised as adult fiction (at least it was on NetGalley). I think it is a sort of cross between YA and adult that will appeal to a wide audience. I certainly enjoyed reading it, and I think my 16-year-old self would have too.
Ahern has done a wonderful job of setting the mood in this novel. It has a gothic feel to it, with a castle in ruins, a strange woman across the road, oddly-behaving family members and secrets looming in the distance. One particular chapter really made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end and I experienced that familiar feeling of being watched together with Tamara.
Many of the reviews I have read mention how Tamara is a spoiled brat and several people say they had trouble connecting with her. I didn't have that problem; I actually liked her from the beginning. Yes, she used to be the little rich girl who would get everything she pointed at, but when the book starts she has already changed. And she keeps on changing for the better throughout the story. She may have the occasional relapse into her old ways, but I forgave her that because after all she has essentially lost everything she knew and loved. At least she knows that the way she used to behave was wrong and she is trying hard to be a better person. I admire her for that.
The rest of the cast is also very interesting. Aunt Rosaleen was perfectly creepy and mysterious, and I would have hated having to live with her. If she had not been hiding something I would have been very disappointed. Arthur seemed like the classic henpecked husband, but he did show some backbone from time to time. I loved Marcus the bookbus driver, and Weseley was a real nice guy too. But my favourite character was Sister Ignatius, the quirky old nun who tends bees and reads Mills and Boon books.
The Book of Tomorrow is full of mystery and unanswered questions, and I enjoyed seeing every secret slowly being unravelled. I have only a few complaints, none of which are big enough to ruin the experience for me:
– The subplot with Marcus was never really resolved, but I guess that's life sometimes; you can't work out everything with everyone.
– The diary was put aside a little too easily despite being such a big part of the story.
– The ending was satisfactory, but felt a bit rushed.
Incidentally, Tamara has the same birthday as me. I know it's irrational, but it made me feel like there was some sort of connection between us. Imagine if I had been able to read this ten years ago; we would have been BFFs before the end.
Best: The gothic mood and the magical element.
Worst: The last few chapters felt a little rushed.
Bottom line: An intriguing and mysterious story with a sprinkle of magic that will appeal to young and older readers alike.
Cecelia Ahern is the author of the international bestsellers P.S. I Love You, which was adapted into a major motion picture starring Hilary Swank; I Love, Rosie; If You Could See Me Now; There’s No Place Like Here; Thanks for the Memories; and The Gift. Her books are published in 46 countries and have collectively sold more than 11 million copies. The daughter of Ireland’s former prime minister, she lives in Dublin, Ireland.