Title: Looking for Me
Author: Beth Hoffman
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from the author
First line: Some people run toward life, arms flung wide in anticipation.
Goodreads blurb: 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.
Back in the summer of 2010, I read and reviewed Beth Hoffman’s Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, saying, “I will be eagerly anticipating the next story to come from her lovely imagination.” I had no idea that it would take almost three years to see what Beth’s next story would be, but I am so very happy to say that it was worth the wait.
I have had several authors read and comment on my blog – usually when I have just read and reviewed their book, or when they have a book about to come out. Beth is one of the only authors who continued to read and comment on my blog during all those long years between books, and I have come to appreciate her kind spirit and lovely words. Of course, that made agreeing to review her latest book a bit of a sticky proposition: what if I didn’t like it? I’m so glad that my fears were completely unfounded.
Teddi is one of those characters that I simply loved. Her relationship with her brother Josh especially touched me, as I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a brother. (I have three amazing sisters.) Josh is a unique character; he is a bit other-worldly, something even those around him notice and acknowledge. His connection to the land of Kentucky, where Teddi and he grew up, is so strong that he is completely bound to that piece of the earth, and to its creatures.
During the course of the book, Teddi comes to some realizations about herself, her relationship with her mother, and the disappearance of her brother. Her journey is so real, and each character who walks alongside her is a joy as well. The characters breathed their existence onto the pages, showing me who they were and helping to reveal who Teddi was. While Beth is as good as ever at writing setting, it is the people of Looking for Me who had me turning page after page, not wanting to stop. As I read, I was reminded of the work of two of my favorite authors of women’s fiction: Marisa de los Santos and Joshilyn Jackson. I can only hope that we don’t have to wait another three years for Beth’s next story.