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What if we knew what tomorrow would bring? Would we fix it? Could we? These are the questions posed by well-known author Cecilia Ahern in her latest novel, The Book of Tomorrow. Tamara Goodwin’s father, a successful wealthy businessman, commits suicide, leaving her and her mother Jennifer without the means to live the posh life they have been accustomed to. She and “Mum” are forced to leave Dublin and move in with her Aunt Rosaleen, a dour dowdy housewife, and docile Uncle Arthur, who live in a gatehouse in the countryside near Meath, Ireland.
Barely there for one hour, Tamara finds herself already bored. Rosaleen and Arthur are strange and secretive and Tamara is uncomfortable around them. She misses her friends and everything about her old life. She explores her new surroundings and discovers the ruins of Kilsaney Castle. In the sanctuary of the abandoned castle walls which feel oddly familiar to her, she allows herself to grieve the loss of her father.
Tamara soon meets some interesting characters – Sr. Ignatious, an elderly nun who strangely seems to know a great deal about Tamara, a handsome man named Marcus who drives the local mobile library, and an even more handsome Weseley, who helps Uncle Arthur as a groundskeeper.
One day while perusing the shelves in Marcus’s library van, Tamara is drawn to a mysterious locked book with no title. With Sr. Ignatious’s help, they unlock the book and discover it is a blank diary. The caring nun encourages Tamara to journal, thinking it will help the teenager sort through her past and deal with her present reality. But the book has plans of its own. Each time Tamara opens the book’s pages, she reads, in her own handwriting, of events that will take place on the following day. Tamara soon learns that she has the ability to alter the future through her own actions.
Meanwhile, Aunt Rosaleen’s apron pockets brim with mystery and secrets. Why is she so protective and controlling of Mum? What is she putting in Mum’s food, causing her to sleep all day? Why does she hover and watch Tamara’s every move? What exactly is the aunt hiding? Rosaleen also cares for her invalid mother, who lives in a cottage across the road. But who is the other recluse who lives there – the one who creates the beautiful blown glass teardrops? The mysterious book leads Tamara on an adventure to unlock the puzzles and piece together her past. The reader is held captive right up until the story’s fiery conclusion.
Ahern is an extraordinary writer and storyteller. She writes,
The theme of The Book of Tomorrow grew from my absolute love for books and from my belief that they are more than they appear to be. It is true that you cannot judge a book by its cover; it’s the words on the pages, its soul, that reveal its true identity. I believe in the magic of books . . . Books have the ability to find their own way into our lives, as though they have special honing devices that draw the right people to them . . . Books have the power to heal, to teach, to comfort, to force us to face whatever it is we need to face, to entertain, to help us escape. Books are the perfect companions. They will not be what we want them to be, but what they truly are. They are true and real and honest.”