1st, let me give you a quick rundown of Looking for Me. Teddi Overman grows up in Kentucky and finds herself as a young girl with a passion for fixing beat-up furniture. In fact, while selling a restored piece at the end of the road leading to her house, she runs across a buyer that will change her life. She ultimately ends up working in an antique store in Charleston, South Carolina. After a number of years, and in a very roundabout way, she ends up owning the store. Now, normally, I wouldn't give away a plotline that turns up a good part of the way into a book. In this case, though, the drama centers on personal relationships, both with family as well as with friends, mentors, and even foes. It's the journey (I know from the Bachelor/Bachelorette that "journey" is a very overused word), not the destination, that matters here.
Now, what about some of those relationships (I'll get to family in a minute)? First, there's Mr. Palmer, who Teddi 1st sees at the end of the road in Kentucky and who she then works for in Charleston. Then there's Mr. Calhoun, who brokers a loan for her to buy her own shop. How about Sam, an attorney in town, who pays for whatever his mother swipes from Teddi's shop (in fact, take a look at page 79, in which Teddi's bookkeeper, Inez, introduces us to the word "Designamony"). And let's not forget Albert, a master restorer who Teddi works with at Mr. Palmer's shop and who then works for Teddi at her shop. Finally, there's Teddi's best friend, Olivia. Just like Leo Stein, in Jodi Picoult's The Storyteller, Olivia gets all of the funny lines.
All of these connections/relationships are right on. I loved them. But Teddi also has family that she grew up with in Kentucky. What about them? Here's what's very interesting to me. I connected less, emotionally, with her family than I did with her Charleston people. Teddi has quite a story to tell about growing up with her mother, father, brother, and grandmother ("grammy," which my son's kids call their other grandmother). In fact, her brother disappeared when he was 18, and Teddi was 23. And Teddi had a very complicated relationship with her mother. I was definitely interested in both of them (along with her father and grandmother, especially her grandmother) but not viscerally. I can't explain it. I have yet been able to figure out why I connect with some characters and not others. It just is what it is.
There's another element of the book that I really like. Teddi is a single woman who is in her mid-30's. She has a deep love for family, friends, and antique furniture. She doesn't need romance in order to have a fulfilling and fulfilled life. Does she find a man to love and to be loved by? Maybe she does and maybe she doesn't. The point is that the book succeeds without a love interest. Not every book that deals with emotions and relationships has to have romance to make it work. But, in many cases, it doesn't hurt, either!
Get a hold of this book - in print, digital, or audio format. You'll be thanking me that you did.
P.S. How cool is this book cover?