Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern


Cecelia Ahern
Author: Cecelia Ahern
Publisher: Harper Collins
Price: Rs. 250 (discounted to Rs. 231 At Flipkart)

I admit. The bea-uti-ful cover made me pick this book up from the Harper Collins stall at World Book Fair, Delhi. And the fact that I have an uncalled-for bias for all things in the shade of pink (and purple), just added to the voice in my head that said, ‘beautiful! I HAVE to have it!’ Thank You weird instincts; it’s because of you I got a chance to read this book, which I would sum up as – Fantabulous!


Storyline (Summary of the Book)
The Book of Tomorrow is the story of sixteen (check, seventeen) year old Tamara Goodwin, who has it all. A rich dad, stately mansions and holidays, equally rich friends and a hell lot of attitude. She believes in living today, with no thought what-so-ever to what tomorrow might bring, till the tragedy affects her family. Her perfectionist dad commits suicide (unable to pay piling debts) and leaves Tamara and her mom in shock, and unfortunately, without their home and money.

They decide to stay at Jennifer’s (the Mom) brother’s place- a gatehouse in the countryside, with a ruined castle and church with graveyard nearby, and hardly any person in sight. Rosaleen is Arthur’s wife and both warmly welcome the duo to their home, but Tamara hates it there. She’s cut off from friends and her Mom’s grieving wasn’t getting any better. She just stayed in her room, sleeping or staring out the window all day. A little change came when a moving library came by. Tamara, though had no interest in books, longed for some change and found a leather bound book- padlocked. The friendly (over-friendly?) driver-cum-library-keeper let Tamara keep it. Meanwhile, Tamara feels uneasy with Rosaleen’s behaviour, who found out excuses to keep Tamara’s mom in her room and did a good amount of cooking. She feels reluctant to let Tamara out of her sight and keeps a close eye on her. During one of those forays, Tamara ran into Sister Ignatius, an old nun who seems to be a pleasant lady and they become good friends. They succeed in opening the Book’s lock, but found it empty to Tamara’s dismay. Sister urges her to write in the Book and keep it as a Journal.

The Book of Tomorrow book cover!

Tamara had come to love the ruined castle. Though creepy, she felt connected to the place and one day, sat down on the stairs to begin to write in the Book. However, she found the first page was already written in, in her own handwriting. The date was of the next day! She realized she was reading her diary entry for the next day itself! Perplexed and refusing to believe at first, she noticed the series of events the next day- and saw things falling into place exactly as was written in the Book! She starts using the Book to know the next day’s events and simultaneously used the information to her advantage- she wanted to find out what Rosaleen was up to and why Arthur didn’t help much. Once, Arthur had tried to tell Tamara something, but Rosaleen had made sure they were never alone in a room, even for a second.

It wasn’t long before Tamara got the opportunity to get around the house across the gatehouse. It was where Rosaleen’s arthritis- ridden mother lived and where Tamara was forbidden to go. That day Tamara saw a garden full of glass ornaments and delicate pieces and surprisingly on her seventeenth (eighteenth?) birthday, she got a glass ornament, a tear-drop shaped piece. When she shows the beautiful piece to her Mom, she sees a spark of life in her. That day the Book didn’t show her the diary entry- rather it curled up as if it were on fire and stayed that way. The next day, her Mom was heard shouting to Rosaleen and demanding if he was still alive! Seeing her condition, Arthur and Rosaleen take her off to the doctor and Tamara, accompanied by Wesely (a friend she made during her stay) decide to dig things out.

Among astounding revelations in the home across the road, they figure out the truth at last- that the castle belonged to the Kilsaneys and Arthur and Rosaleen were part of the name. Another Kilsaney, Laurence, who was supposed to have died in a terrible fire that broke out in the castle, was still alive and living hidden in the house. He was married to Jennifer and Tamara was his daughter. A year after the fire, George Goodwin, a millionaire, wanted to marry Jennifer and Rosaleen urged her to go ahead. George loved Jennifer and Tamara with all his will and kept them happy and safe, everyone unaware of the secret. When finally all revelations were made, Tamara understood the reason the Book had showed burnt pages. She looks up and sees Rosaleen’s house up in flames, though everyone was safe.

Review
The ending was good (just the way I like it), with a whole chapter devoted to more things revealed and questions answered. Some books just end up abruptly, where the reader’s left to figure out some parts of the mystery themselves, which is kind of irritating, if you ask me. But not this one. This goes into a full account of events, answering all possible questions in the reader’s mind and filling all the gaps. The primary message it carries is that no one should be left unloved, for those who’re ignored as if their existence is a burden, can succumb to their inner desires to get things their way and literally destroy others. As in this case, the Kilsaney’s cook’s little daughter, Rosaleen wanted to befriend the Kilsaney boys- Arthur and Laurie, but Laurie was drawn to Jennifer. This led Rosaleen to ‘accidentally’ create a fire that destroyed the Kilsaneys and the Goodwins, in fact.

Apart from the strong message, I loved the way it wonderfully describes a teenager’s feelings and emotions Tamara goes through- when she feels desperately lonely, when she craves for friends and her former lifestyle, how she’s worried about her Mom (who by the way, was being given sleeping pills by Rosaleen, who disliked her), how she feels Rosaleen’s hiding something, and how she feels after finding out the truth. Tamara’s eighteen after all, having never been told that her real father was Laurie and that she was a Kilsaney too!

It’s quite innovative, though I was a tiny bit disappointed that the primary object in the book- The Book of Tomorrow, though served its purpose well and had a role to play, it was more dominated by Tamara’s story in the beginning, which turned into a family story towards the end. Kind of chaotic, but I wouldn’t complain, for the simple reason that it was somehow one book I couldn’t put down. I really wanted to fight my drooping eyelids, but since I like reading good books slowly, it took three days to read and absorb it whole! And of course, the cover! (It’s actually not a complete cover, the yellow part is the next page and the light purple folded up thing works like it’s actually folded. If that makes any sense! :P). The book was filled with beautiful lines I call “Quotable Quotes”, and one such quote was this: ‘I think that most people go to bookshops and have no idea what they want to buy. Somehow, the books sit there, almost magically willing people to pick them up. The right person for the right book. It’s as though they know whose life they need to be a part of, how they can make a difference, how they can teach a lesson, put a smile on a face at just the right time.’ (Fantastic!)

<This was quite some long review, but hey, it’s today that I’m finally able to breathe for a while, free from silly exams. And I so loved this book, recommended to every single person on Earth!> 

8 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed reading Cecila's PS I Love You so when I saw you were reviewing this book, I just had to visit! Nicely done. I'll definitely look this one up!

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    1. Thanks! Do read it. I'm sure you'll love it as well! :)

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  2. Ashna, welcome back! I'm sorry for only replying now, but it's really great to have you back. I'm glad you're free from exams!

    Anyway, I wasn't thrilled about Cecilia Ahern even when P.S. I Love You became popular. I do think I should try this one out, though, especially since you like it and recommend it to everyone! Another plus: all the quotable quotes! I hope I'll enjoy it as much as you did! :)

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    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Kathe! :)
      I enjoyed this book mainly because it had all elements I like- teenage protagonist, magic, books, mystery! I hope you enjoy it too :)

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  3. Wow Ashna, what a post and what a review. I just read it like in one go, without a pause.
    It was totally reflective of the famous 'Ashna's flow'. The book sure looks good, and since the book is recommended to 'every single person on earth', I think I must qualify too.

    Great comeback. :))

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    1. Hahha.. loved your comment! :D
      Add it to your To-be-read list.. though you may find it girly in the beginning :P. If you don't mind, I would like you to read it and tell me what you think! :)

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  4. Have ordered it from Flipkart! :)
    Will read it and let you know. Awesome review! :)

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    1. Thanks Abhinaya! I hope you'll love it as much as I did! :)

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