Tilly Farmer is the guidance counselor at the high school that she attended sixteen years ago. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart, Tyler and other than a few bumps, of the familial kind, in the road, her life is perfect.
During a school festival Tilly wanders into booth to find an old friend, Ashley, is doing fortune telling. After Ashley tells Tilly that she is going to give her the gift of clarity, Tilly starts seeing future events and it isn't pretty. Her perfect world starts to shatter and she doesn't know how she will survive, or even if she wants to survive.
I really struggled with liking Tilly at first. She just seemed so, oblivious to the realities of her life, specifically her marriage. She has been the "strong one" in her family for so long that when she is the one needing the help and support, she has a hard time accepting it. That is the point in the book where I started to like Tilly, she seemed a little more real to me. Tilly learns some hard truths about herself and her family, but it obviously makes her a stronger woman and the gift of clarity is exactly what she needed.
I had the opportunity to recently ask the author of The One That I Want, Allison Winn Scotch, some questions.
1. In The One That I Want, Tilly is given the “gift of clarity.” What helps you seek clarity about events going on in your life?
For me, it’s about stepping back and really gaining perspective about whatever it is that’s bothering me. One specific way that I do this is via running: there is something about carving out an hour for myself, with music blaring in my ears, and with adrenaline pumping through my body, that really helps me iron out whatever kinks I’m working through. I also try to come up with steps to right the wrong. I’m not a big believer in complaining or moping…I’d much rather say, “Ok, xyz is upsetting me, what has to be done so that it no longer is?” Usually, just by asserting control over the situation, I feel better and find a way to resolve it.
2. The One That I Want takes a look at the relationship that Tilly shares with her sisters. Do you have sisters? How does your relationship with your sister(s) compare to the relationship Tilly has with Luanne & Darcy?
I actually only have a brother! But I am flattered to all get-out that a few reviewers have mentioned that I captured the sister-relationship realistically. As far as my brother, we’re quite close, though I’d say that he’s much better rounded than I am, and generally more patient and kind. Though he’s busier than I am, so I earn points for checking in with our parents more often! J
3. The One That I Want brought back a lot of high school memories for me. Do you remember the theme of your high school prom? Do you still keep in touch with your date from prom?
Ha! Yes, my high school boyfriend remains, to this day, a dear friend, and I feel pretty fortunate for that. We dated for a few years, and though the break-up was pretty emotional (at the time, of course), we somehow realized that we had something worth preserving. So now we’re in touch and are happy for each other’s successes and families and all of that. It’s a nice thing. As far as prom theme, I went to a private school which was a little snootier, and I sincerely don’t think we had a theme! We all got decked out in black tie (and incidentally, my boyfriend had a terrible flu and basically went to sleep the entire time!), and there was no Under The Sea in sight. That would have been fun though. I always think of Never Been Kissed and think something like that would have been awesome!
4. As the title alludes, the popular musical, Grease , has a role in your new book. Why did you choose Grease to be the musical that the school puts on? Every woman of our generation has a Grease memory to tell, what is yours?
I actually started out with a different musical – Hair, which I quickly realized was wildly inappropriate for the high school set, but I’d chosen it for a reason. That said, I abandoned it and mulled over what some of the more stereotypical high school plays were. Grease was on my short list, and it was the one that seemed to emit the greatest joy, the biggest smiles. As you said, everyone has their Grease memory, and given that there was enough bleakness in Tilly’s world, I wanted to create something lighter, something that could make both the characters AND the readers smile. My Grease moment is singing Summer Nights with my friends on our bunk porch at sleepaway camp as a teen. To this day, I love that song!
5. Let’s say that we have been given the “gift of clarity”, were we to look into the future, where would we see Tilly in five years?
Oh, great question! I think, without giving away too much, that she’d probably have a much better relationship with her sisters, a functional relationship that was working toward healing with her father, and a much more independent existence in general. The specifics aside (I don’t want to spoil the ending for people), I think she’d have learned to trust herself and pursue her passions with the understanding that you can’t fix everyone, and even if you could, that’s not always the right answer anyway. And I’d hope for her that she’d have a child because I think she’s learned the right lessons to make a wonderful mom.
The One That I Want is a perfect book to stick in the beach bag. The characters are well written and many women can relate to the story, not to mention the memories that will spring to the surface as you are reading Tilly's story. Is there a more perfect way to pass a lazy Summer afternoon?