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looking for me

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★★

To stand here was to experience the magnitude of Mother Nature, to witness her artistry and ruthless power.  I closed my eyes and felt the winds of her sympathy move through my hair, and I listened to her tender mercies echo across craggy cliffs.

To stand here was to feel inadequate and grand and connected to something far beyond comprehension.  But most of all, to stand here was to feel forgiven.

(from Looking for Me, page 164)

Looking for Me is a beautiful novel (the best book I’ve read so far this year, in fact) about following your dreams, holding onto memories instead of things, and making peace with the past.  Teddi Overman left her family farm in Kentucky right after high school to live out her dream of restoring and selling antique furniture.  She knew this was her destiny from the age of 10, much to the disappointment of her mother, who had a more secure future in mind for her daughter.

Around 20 years later, Teddi still wishes her mother would visit her store in Charleston to see her accomplishments and maybe even begin to heal the hurts that have plagued their relationship for so long.  But Teddi ends up back in Kentucky, sifting through a lifetime of memories, secrets, and pain and must finally come to terms with the disappearance of her younger brother, Josh, who spent most of his time in the nearby national forest and had an unexplainable connection with animals and a fierce desire to protect them from poachers.

Her friends — the “firecracker” Olivia, a rare book expert; Inez, her feisty office manager; and Albert, the sweet but reserved furniture restorer — keep Teddi in the present, and an unexpected relationship makes her feel alive for the first time since Josh went missing.  However, she can’t bring herself to believe Josh could be dead or stop looking for him.

Looking for Me is one of those books you know you’re going to love from the very first page.  Beth Hoffman is such a talented storyteller, and I’ve loved her writing since I read Saving CeeCee Honeycutt (which made my Best of 2010 list).  Her characters are so well developed and so real, and her descriptions are so vivid and rich that you feel like you are walking alongside the characters.  The best way to describe Hoffman’s writing is warm and insightful, and this book just spoke to me.  I remember having to go through my grandmother’s apartment, getting lost in old memories, feeling suffocated by grief, and wondering what to keep and what to discard, so I knew what Teddi was going through to some extent.

I love how Hoffman can take you on an emotional roller coaster ride (I teared up reading this on the train and didn’t care if anyone noticed), and even when you feel wrung out and breathless like the characters, you can’t help but enjoy it and want more.  She writes about a family broken by a tragic event, and she does so with heart and even hope.  Looking for Me is such a rich novel, with delicious descriptions of antiques and a portrait of the power of nature, the unbreakable bond of close siblings, and the freedom that comes from accepting the past while looking forward to the future.  When I turned the last page, I knew this was a novel I wouldn’t soon forget and that from here on out, I will read anything Hoffman writes.

Disclosure: I received Looking for Me from the author for review.

© 2013 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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