To some, the label “chick lit” carries a negative or condescending connotation, bringing to mind a light and fluffy fare. This isn’t how I personally view the label, as I use it. For me, the “chick lit” label fits when the subject and characters reach out to women, often with contemporary settings and situations that many female readers can easily relate to. I offer this genre classification with less judgment than some, and more emphasis on the intended reading audience. That being said, The One That I Want, a new novel by Allison Winn Scotch will undoubtedly be shelved at bookstores among other well-known female authors offering stories about women for women.
The novel opens by introducing Tilly Farmer, a thirty-two year old guidance counselor, living in the same town in which she was born and raised, and even working in the very same high school that she attended as a student half a lifetime ago. Much of Tilly’s life hasn’t changed since her adolescence, including her relationship with Tyler, her high school sweetheart, the star baseball player to her popular cheerleader. Consistency in her life is something that Tilly has always striven for, especially since her mother’s death when she was a teenager, and the role of the person who always helps others is one that Tilly feels best suits her. Early in the novel, Tilly experiences something a bit unbelievable, but she soon finds it upending every aspect of her perfect, orderly life.
I have to admit that this book didn’t immediately draw me in, as the beginning parts felt a bit shallow and predictable. About halfway through, though, the story seemed to gain momentum, fleshing out characters with more depth and inspiring me to care a bit more about their journeys. Tackling the concepts of discontent in adult life- whether specific to marriage or career or in reference to life in general- is common fodder for many books written with a female reading audience in mind, and the second half of this book depicts a character finally ready to address issues that she may not have even been aware of earlier in her life. I believe I became more invested in this novel when Tilly began to be less one-dimensional and more self-aware and reflective.
Readers who enjoy a female-centric story driven by a quest for personal introspection and change, will enjoy The One That I Want, a quick read that will make for enjoyable summer reading at the beach or poolside.
Dawn looks forward to the days in which poolside reading can be a reality. For now, she can usually be found with at least one small child within arm’s reach, at all times, even when she’s trying to blog away at my thoughts exactly.