Dear Thursday: THE ONE THAT I WANT by Allison Winn Scotch [Book 45 of 2010]

So getting back to fiction novels, here are my thoughts on THE ONE THAT I WANT by Allison Winn Scotch

Why I Decided To Read It: This novel had quite a bit of internet buzz, and I love internet buzz, so…

What It’s About: This could have easily been subtitled The Inner-Life of a Doormat. Basically Tilly, whose always there for everybody else, receives the gift of clarity by her psychic ex-BFF, and the whole world that she’s lovingly constructed for herself starts falling apart: her marriage falters, her recovered alcoholic father falls off the wagon, her guidance counselor job becomes a hassle — you get the picture.

What Makes It Different: I’ve seen people go into a psychic’s tent and get a weird fortune or discover a stunning secret revealed. I even read a book in which the client gets pushed back in time, but I’ve never come across someone getting the gift of clarity. Neat!

What I Loved: Great concept and as the daughter of a former guidance counselor, I liked the POV character’s job. On a personal note, the main character is also a member of the Dead Mothers Club, and I liked Scotch’s exploration of how having her mother die early affected Tilly’s later life. Oh, and the cover is bangin‘.

What I Didn’t Like: The concept is great, but the execution is rather vague. Also, as the exact opposite of a doormat, I found much of Tilly’s behavior, including a general lack of curiosity in the face of receiving a pretty significant psychic power baffling. Lack of curiosity is a huge pet peeve of mine when it ┬ácomes to literary characters.

Writing Lessons Learned:

Meet you at the crossroads. Presenting your main character at a crossroads is a great writing device, because it sets up a natural mystery. Which path will your character take? It’s a nice organic way to keep your audience in suspense.

Solidly-middle-class. One of the things I loved about this novel is that everyone in it is middle-class. I’m trying to remember the last time I read a white novel, set in a small town, in which all the characters are solidly middle-to-lower class, and I’ve got nothing. It was nice to see the spotlight turned on real folks with common problems.

No Detective! I pretty much had the entire plot figured out halfway through the book, which left me wondering why Tilly didn’t see it coming, and also, why she for the most part refused to ask any questions. This is something we should all watch out for as writers, a mystery without a detective will feel flat no matter how great the concept is.

To Whom Would I Recommend This Book: Those Who Married Young, Guidance Counselors, Doormats, Those With Really Stable Marriages (like SUBSTITUTE ME, this is one of those books that could break folks up), Adult Children of Alcoholics, and Dead Mothers Club members.