“Born into the lap of luxury and comfortable in the here and now, spoiled, tempestuous Tamara Goodwin has never had to look to the future—until the abrupt death of her father leaves her and her mother a mountain of debt and forces them to move in with Tamara’s peculiar aunt and uncle in a tiny countryside village.
Tamara is lonely and bored, with a traveling library as her only diversion. There she finds a large leather-bound book with a gold clasp and padlock, but no author name or title. Intrigued, she pries open the lock, and what she finds inside takes her breath away.
Tamara sees entries written in her own handwriting, and dated for the following day. When the next day unfolds exactly as recorded, Tamara realizes she may have found a solution to her problems. But in her quest to find answers, Tamara soon learns that some pages are better left unturned and that, try as she may, she mustn’t interfere with fate.”
Thoughts: What would you do if you found a book that shared details about tomorrow? Would you pay attention? Would you try to change it? Or would you run screaming in the opposite direction?
Tamara has had a rough time of things lately, which is actually a bit of an understatement. Faced with the trauma of finding her father after he committed suicide, she is forced to abandon everything familiar while her mother turns inward in her grief. Spoiled, selfish, and struggling to accept the changes forced upon her, she is not the most likable of main characters, but she does show signs of improvement almost from the first moment.
The magic diary is an interesting addition to the story, but it is also its weakest point. The book itself is not satisfactorily explained. In fact, Tamara never stops to consider why the book works. (Obviously, she has not read Harry Potter nor seen any of the movies and learned not to trust books magical books with mysterious origins.) Rather than the initial skepticism and almost immediate acceptance, had Tamara shown some semblance of curiosity about its origins or questioned how the thing works, it would have seemed more natural. Instead, this particular plot device is rather forced.
Thankfully, the setting redeems The Book of Tomorrow. Set in rural Ireland, complete with castles, keeps, groundskeepers, gardens, ruins, and ancient history, the atmosphere positively leaps off the page, especially for American readers, who cannot compete with such historical context. Ahern does an excellent job of making the setting another character.
The Book of Tomorrow is fun but ultimately forgettable. The mystical book is never explained, and the ending is decidedly predictable. Similarly, the character development is what one would expect when the main character comes from a privileged background. While there is not anything majorly wrong with the story, there is nothing that sets it apart from similar stories. Still, there are much worse ways to spend an afternoon.
Acknowledgements: Thank you to Mark Ferguson from Harper Perennial for my review copy!