Sunday, August 11, 2013

Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman

Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman
Published May 2013 by Pamela Dorman Books
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher in exchange for this honest review

Publisher's Summary:
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.  

My Thoughts:
Looking For Me has much to recommend it, not the least of which is that this was simply the right book at the right time. I've been struggling lately with my reading; I'd pick up a book, read ten minutes and put it back down. It wasn't even that they weren't good books. They just weren't books that made me forget the laundry, errands, and meals. Looking For Me did that thanks to Hoffman's ability to make her readers care deeply for her characters.

When I reviewed Hoffman's debut, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, I wrote that that Hoffman had failed to deliver a real punch with the tension she built up. Looking For Me taught me that Hoffman isn't about delivering a punch. Instead she shows her readers the ugly side of life while saying to them "it's going to be alright, there is more good in this world than bad." It's a very Southern way of storytelling. Like all great Southern storytelling, Hoffman also knows how to make her setting as much a part of the story as any of the people. The Kentucky mountains are painted so vividly it is clear that they hold a special place in Hoffman's heart.  
"When we reached the top of the mountain and stepped off the platform, I led Olivia along a rugged path where nature offered gift upon gift: bulging tree roots with giant knuckles that formed steps over hazardous terrain, the echo of a pileated woodpecker hammering out its home, the fecund perfume of damp earth and moss."
Looking For Me is, in fact, filled with Hoffman's passions from animals to antiques to family farms but she never allows them to overpower Teddy's story. It's a story of love, loss, and family, of learning when to let go and what to hold on to. Despite all she loses, Teddy is never alone but one of the things I loved about this book is that Hoffman did not make Teddy's strength or happiness come from a man. It came from family, friends and it came from within, an  inner strength Teddy doesn't always know she has and that doubt makes her feel all the more realistic.

I hate to feel that an author is steering my feelings but when a book is written well, as Looking For Me is, it's easy to forget that you've been set up. Even when you find yourself with tears streaming down your face, as I did more than once as I came near the end of Looking For Me.   It's a lovely, comfort read that envelops its readers in hope.

No comments:

Post a Comment