The Book of Someday by Dianne Dixon(5 out of 5)
Don’t look for this title just yet- it’s out in September of this year. The lovely Valerie at Sourcebooks was kind enough to send me an advance of it. She also emailed and enclosed a note saying it was a book she just couldn’t get past. And that, my friends, is that- and a whole basket of begonias besides it.
I honestly do not know the last time I read something that completely stunned me on multiple levels. This book did just that. It’s also now my number one read fiction title this year(and I know I’m way behind on my reading, due to caring for my dad). It is awesome. I’m trying to think of a book that I can compare it to, and I haven’t yet. It stands alone.
The book centers around three women: Micah- shrewd, ambitious, alone, and who has just received what is essentially a death sentence; Livvi- self-doubting, haunted by her ghosts of an unhappy childhood and trapped in a relationship that is going nowhere fast; and AnnaLee, who we meet in flashbacks going back 26 years and is caught in a marriage with a man whom she loves but who is a weak soul in every other way. Their lives intersect in ways that do not become apparent until 15-20 pages before the end of the book. AnnaLee’s story begins the tale. Married to Jack, who keeps changing career paths because he has a weak disposition and no stomach for confrontation, and living in a beautiful house that’s falling to pieces because she’s going broke due to his lack of gainful employment, AnnaLee’s only tie to Jack is their beautiful daughter Bella. Bella is probably the only reason she stays with Jack. However, their homelife is uprooted one summer when Jack agrees to let his niece Persephone stay with them(Persephone is her nickname; you don’t learn her real name til later in the story). Persephone is a wild child who’s radically unhappy because her parents don’t want her(this is why she is staying with Jack and AnnaLee). AnnaLee’s kind and maternal streak doesn’t let Persephone go, and the love and attention she and Bella lavish on her changes her for the better. Only problem is Persephone has a self-destructive switch that gets flipped and she falls in with the wrong crowd and they talk her into playing a part in a scheme so monsterous that disasters befalls everyone in the house. AnnaLee pays the biggest price of all.
Flash forward to 2012. Micah is a fast-talking high-heel walking supermodel type who’s easy on the eyes to many, but married more to her Blackberry than to trying to win friends. Her enemies, you get the feeling, are everywhere. Micah goes in for a physical and is told she’s got only a short time to live. Suddenly, those words from the doctor- “do you have any family to call? Anyone?” lead her into a vortex of regret and memories. She heads back to the scenes of her past, trying to make amends. For she believes that her health prognosis is due directly to the bad karma she has from screwing people over left and right, not only in her youth, but in the current day. You see shreds of humanity here and there, but she is not at all a sympathetic character. The way Dixon writes the character, you still feel like there’s a chance she’s not a gigantic bitch. I didn’t feel sorry for her until the very end, when her search leads to answers, not just for herself, but others.
Livvi is, to me at least, the main character in this book. From reading about how she is raised by a mentally unsound father to a religious zealot stepmother who is nothing short of a Kathy Bates in Misery type of character and the unhappiness she faced due to that, she has the sympathy vote from the first page she graces. She has written her first book- The Book of Someday- which is a collection of thoughts that she had written as a means to escape her unhappy childhood. Those unsettled feelings of inadequacy and not being loved by your parents- continue to plague her into adulthood. The book has just been published and she’s on the book tour, when she runs into an old flame. I should rephrase that. She runs into Andrew, a magnetic man with whom she carried on an emotional affair years back, only to have him suddenly disappear. They reconnect and begin what can only be described as a heady, passionate affair. Andrew’s inability to commit to little everyday things begins to pick at Livvi. One day she decides on a whim to just visit his home out of the blue. He isn’t there, but before she can leave, the doorbell rings and an adorable little girl comes in looking for her daddy. Guess who? Not only that, but Grace(the little girl) tells Livvi that Andrew and “Mommy” are still married. Livvi is destroyed, but she and Grace form a quick and lasting emotional attachment. Much as she tries to save this sinking ship of a relationship, Livvi tries to hang on, if for nothing else, for Grace’s sake, so she doesn’t feel unloved(precisely what I mean by her own unhappy childhood coming back in the present to affect her decisions). Eventually, she sees it for as it is, and finds a chance at a second chance.
All I will say is that the picture with the lady in the dress and the pearl button shoes- plays a more prominent part in wrapping it up, plus connecting all the characters years apart. You have to give that picture some credit, because without it- much of the cornerstone of the story falls away. It’s a huge plot point.
The last 20 or so pages is where it completely ties up and stuns you. It stuns me throughout, from what happens to AnnaLee to what a selfish cow Micah is to why Livvi sticks with a loser, to the supporting characters(Jack, Andrew, David, Grace) that grab you with their occasional appearances in the story. I honestly cannot say more, because it is phenomenal what happens in those last chapters. I didn’t see any of it coming, and how the past shaped the present and the future- I honestly don’t know what to say except I LOVE THIS BOOK. And I hope it gets the credit it deserves when it comes out in September. It is beyond awesome.