Title: Looking for Me
Author: Beth Hoffman
No. of Pages: 368
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Bottom Line: Beautifully written, emotionally fulfilling
“Teddi Overman found her life’s passion for furniture in a broken-down chair left on the side of the road in rural Kentucky. She learns to turn other people’s castoffs into beautifully restored antiques, and eventually finds a way to open her own shop in Charleston. There, Teddi builds a life for herself as unexpected and quirky as the customers who visit her shop. Though Teddi is surrounded by remarkable friends and finds love in the most surprising way, nothing can alleviate the haunting uncertainty she’s felt in the years since her brother Josh’s mysterious disappearance. When signs emerge that Josh might still be alive, Teddi is drawn home to Kentucky. It’s a journey that could help her come to terms with her shattered family—and to find herself at last. But first she must decide what to let go of and what to keep.”
Thoughts: There is something about the use of Charleston as the setting that is absolutely magical and works so well for Beth Hoffman’s Looking for Me. The atmosphere is perfect for the story’s quirky, lovable characters, and the city’s history lends itself well to a store filled with restored antiques. Ms. Hoffman captures the mood perfectly with her descriptions of the stately homes and the fascination with family connections and heirlooms, as well as the profound need to keep up appearances. It is something any person who has visited Charleston will recognize immediately as being unique to that city.
The scenes in rural Kentucky are an excellent counterpoint to the genteel traditions and emphasis on appearances in Charleston, and they too are quite unique to the area. That deep connection to the land Teddi feels is an apt description for the entire area, as is the more relaxed approach to relationships and life in general. Ms. Hoffman skillfully uses both unique settings to establish the differences between Teddi’s past and her future.
Looking for Me is at once poignant and hopeful. Teddi’s losses – her adored father, her beloved brother, her mother, her land – would fell a much weaker person, especially coming in such quick succession like they do. Her pain is visceral and strong and will impact a reader as much as anything. Yet, Teddi finds strength in her losses, especially when it comes to honoring her father and her brother. It is this aspect of the story which fills a reader with hope. Her ability to pay forward her good fortune and lucky break is a great reminder of the beauty in this world and the general kindness that costs nothing but can mean so much to others.
Looking for Me is a beautiful story about love and loss, fresh starts and familial ties. Teddi handles these conflicting emotional tugs with grace and dignity, endearing herself to readers and setting a great example for others. The entire story exudes Southern charm and gentility that befits the setting and makes for an absolutely lovely reading experience.