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The One That I Want

The One That I Want

3.6 39
by Allison Winn Scotch

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Tilly Farmer is thirty-two years old and has the perfect life she always dreamed of: married to her high school sweetheart, working as a guidance counselor in her hometown, trying for a baby. Perfect. 

In fact, on the surface you might never know how tough things used to be. At seventeen, Tilly lost her mother to cancer, her father drowned his grief in


Tilly Farmer is thirty-two years old and has the perfect life she always dreamed of: married to her high school sweetheart, working as a guidance counselor in her hometown, trying for a baby. Perfect. 

In fact, on the surface you might never know how tough things used to be. At seventeen, Tilly lost her mother to cancer, her father drowned his grief in alcohol, and she played parent to her two younger sisters more often than being a kid herself. Still Tilly never let tragedy overtake her belief that hard work and good cheer could solve any problem. Of course she’s also spent a lifetime plastering a smile on her face and putting everyone else’s problems ahead of her own.

But that relentless happiness has served her well—her sisters are grown and content, her dad is ten years sober, and she’s helping her students achieve all their dreams while she and her husband, Tyler, start a family. A perfect life indeed.

Then one sweltering afternoon at the local fair, everything changes. Tilly wanders into the fortune teller’s tent and is greeted by an old childhood friend, now a psychic, who offers her more than just a reading. “I’m giving you the gift of clarity,” her friend says. “It’s what I always thought you needed.” And soon enough, Tilly starts seeing things: her father relapsing, staggering out of a bar with his car keys in hand; Tyler uprooting their happy, stable life, a packed U-Haul in their driveway; and even more disturbing, these visions start coming true. Suddenly Tilly’s perfect life, so meticulously mapped out, seems to be crumbling around her. And she’s not sure what’s more frightening: that she’s begun to see the future or what the future holds . . . 

As Tilly furiously races to keep up with—and hopefully change—her destiny, she faces the question: Which is the life she wants? The one she’s carefully nursed for decades, or the one she never considered possible?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the latest from Scotch (Time of My Life), a clichéd story of a baby-craving 30-something, gives way to an aching, honest look into the death and rebirth of relationships. Tilly Farmer is a high school guidance counselor who married her high school sweetheart, has never left her hometown of Westlake, Wash., and is sure that the key to her happiness is getting pregnant. When an unexpected encounter with an old grade school friend (now a psychic) leaves Tilly with the ability to see the future, what she foresees is not a baby but losing her husband to a job in Seattle. Though the far-fetched plot device feels tired, Scotch combines the fallout of Tilly's visions with the burdens of an alcoholic father, angry younger sister, and deceased mother to bring her character into focus. Scotch answers hard questions about the nature of personal identity and overwhelming loss with a wise, absorbing narrative. (June)
Library Journal
Tilly Farmer readily admits she's a happy woman. She married her high school sweetheart and is ready to start a family. She works as a guidance counselor at her old high school, and she lives in a nice house in the hometown where she grew up. She even has a hand in planning the senior prom and school musical every year. A chance meeting with an estranged friend working as a fortune teller leaves Tilly with strange visions that show a future quite the opposite of her expectations, like her father's struggle with alcoholism and her husband packing a moving truck. When her premonitions begin to prove valid, Tilly's left to wonder whether her happiness is genuine or a quixotic quest to keep hold of the best time of her life. VERDICT A well-told if slightly predictable tale, Scotch's (Time of My Life) novel is a good choice for fans of women's fiction and book clubs. It's fast-paced and feels light yet still packs a satisfying emotional punch.—Amy Brozio-Andrews, Albany P.L., NY
Kirkus Reviews
A dose of supernatural powers turns a self-satisfied former cheerleader into an emotional wreck, and maybe a more authentic person. Tilly Farmer has it all-at least according to her own estimation. She and Tyler, popular high-school sweethearts, are now married, tucked away in their little house in the same small Washington town in which they were raised. Tilly is the guidance counselor at her old high school and gets to relive the glory days everyday. No matter that her talented younger sister Darcy "escaped" as soon as she could to Los Angeles And forget that Tyler is haunted by lost dreams-he was on the way to becoming a pro ball player before a college injury-in the town where he was once a hero. To Tilly, everyone is happy, happy, happy. Until the county fair that is, when a long-lost school friend, Ashley, manning the psychic booth, gives Tilly a head massage. Boom! Clarity finally comes to 32-year-old Tilly, who begins to see the future through visions. She quickly comes to appreciate how much of life she's lived with blinders on. Into the picture falls Eli, the school's new cool art teacher, who gets Tilly interested in photography again. Unsurprisingly the lesson is: 1) Tilly has not followed her own dreams and 2) She has invested her energy in caring for others. Tilly is angry, not only at her new psychic gift, but at all the reality she's missed out on, such as noticing the slow disintegration of her marriage. Never fear, once she gets used to reality, she begins to like its potential. Pleasant, predictable beach-bag fare from Scotch (Time of My Life, 2008, etc.).
From the Publisher
A Redbook Book Club Pick

One of Cosmo Magazine's Steamy Beach Tomes for the Summer

"Emotional and engrossing" -People Magazine

"[A] novel about the choices we welcome and the choices we resist."

"With a thriller of a conclusion...keeps readers in suspense until the final electrifying pages."
–American Way

“The real magic is Scotch’s ability to create authentic moments between her characters that push this fast-paced story to the edge and joyfully brings us along with it.”
–The LA Books Examiner

“Well-told . . . a good choice for fans of women's fiction and book clubs. It's fast-paced and feels light yet still packs a satisfying emotional punch.”
–Library Journal

"Scotch creates eminently relatable characters, with a particularly excellent understanding of the way sisters interact, and has the ability to craft scenes of real emotional weight."

"[A]n aching, honest look into the death and rebirth of relationships....a wise, absorbing narrative."
–Publishers Weekly

"You’ll like this book because it’s not all about a guy. It’s layered with friendships, family ties, heartbreak, and the excitement of a new crush. The One That I Want will call you to reflect on your own life, inspire you to live passionately, and teach you to embrace independence."  —Glamour.com

Product Details

Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

The One That I Want

A Novel
By Allison Winn Scotch

Shaye Areheart Books

Copyright © 2010 Allison Winn Scotch
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780307464507


I magine, if you can, that you are sixteen again. That first kisses are still a possibility, that the giddy anticipation of life’s open roads is still fiery in your belly, that a perfect satin dress and a rose corsage can still make you feel more beautiful than you ever could have hoped for. Sit back and imagine all of these things: taste them, revel in them, and then understand that this—even at thirty-two, even happily married and desperate for a baby—this is why I love prom. I get why you might not, why you might think I’m some sort of stunted adolescent, why you might think that I’m one of those girls you’d have loved to hate in high school. But that’s not it: I love prom for everything that it represents—hope, innocence, possibility. So before you judge me, before you hear my story, know that. Know that I get it, it’s not as if I don’t get it, don’t get why I should have long since moved on from prom. But I can’t help myself. I love the heady expectancy, the spiraling dance floor, the rush of adrenaline before the king and queen are crowned.

And now, once again, it’s July, one school year behind us, another on the horizon, the wave pulling out the grads, the tide washing in new ones, and just as I have done for the past five years, I am planning prom. And yes, I freaking love it. I freaking own it. Welcome to my life.

Today, behind my desk in my office, I tap the eraser against my yellow notepad. This one will be the best in memory! I think. City of Lights: Westlake Does Paris! Last year we did Under the Sea, which felt a little tired, and the year prior, the prom committee nearly came unhinged when deciding between the Roaring Twenties and the Seventies, so before blood was drawn between the school president and the junior class social chair, they settled on the Fifties, which didn’t work on any level. Half the kids ditched the theme entirely, while the other half showed up in poodle skirts and skinny suits that they borrowed from their parents and spent the duration of the evening looking decidedly uncomfortable, uncelebratory in every way.

But I’m giddy at the thought of erecting a faux Eiffel Tower in the gym, delighted at the proposed beret party favors. That none of us has been to Paris is beside the point. Or maybe that’s the point entirely. I lean back in my chair, the wheels squeaking below me. Yes, come December, the City of Lights will be perfect. Parfait!

Westlake High School holds its annual prom in December, an aberration, but the tradition started nearly two decades ago when the teachers union was threatening to strike all spring, and the students rallied the principal to push the prom to the dead of winter, lest they were deprived of the culmination, the exclamation mark for the years they’d logged. The principal acquiesced and the students got their prom and no one bothered to change it back the next year. Or the years after that.

And though it is just July and though prom feels so very far away—with the heat wave that’s pushed in from Montana that has us shedding all but the most necessary of clothes, and with the sun that doesn’t sink below the skyline until nearly nine o’clock, and with at least a third of the student body begrudgingly enrolled in summer school—my to-do list for prom is long and getting longer. And yes, I have more pressing items on my desk—approving detention for Alex Wilkinson, who, on the third day of summer classes, has already been booted from algebra for trying to feel up Martha Connolly, and calling the parents of Randy Rodgers, whose GPA has torpedoed below the athletic requirement for the fall football season—but I’m brushing it all aside for prom.

I glance over my notes. Crème puffs on trays? Baguette and cheese buffet! Tyler, my husband, tells me to give it up, to stop pouring so much of myself into these kids, into this life inside the halls of Westlake High, and I suppose that he’s partly right: maybe I’m a little too close, too tied up in my alma mater, but what the hell. If there’s anything to get too tied up in at this place, it’s prom. Because I’ve long thought that prom matters, has some sort of intangible, relevant effect on these students, their last gasp of childhood before we send them out into the adult world, where many of them, so, so many of them in Westlake—with unsteady jobs, with iffy paychecks, with perhaps shadowy prospects for the future—will be burdened with the complications that the post–high school world brings. So why not revel in it just a little bit? I’ll say this to Ty when he mocks me. Why not make it as perfect as perfect can be? I’ll answer to Susanna, my friend since forever who doesn’t quite share my shiny optimism.

I scribble down, “Check budget for cost of renting Arc de Triomphe,” and spot a tiny spider wobbling along my keyboard. Lately, because the only thing hotter than the outside air is the air inside my office—with the school’s faulty air conditioner—I’ve taken to leaving my windows open, and a family of spiders has taken up residence just below the sill. This one—no bigger than the tip of my pinkie finger—is slipping on the keys, flailing by the letter Y. I jimmy my to-do list under its weensy legs, and it panics, turning the opposite direction and attempting to flee right off the page. I rush to the window, just before he makes a suicide plunge off the paper, and drop him outside, back with his family, wherever they may be.

“Are we really doing this?” A voice calls out behind me, and I pull myself back inside. Susanna has thrown herself onto my lavender love seat, her cheeks too flushed, her skin a little too glistening, her tank top flat against her moist skin. “Jesus, is it nine thousand degrees in here, or what? I feel like my insides are boiling.”

I reach for the Polaroid camera on my desk. “Say cheese!”

“God, not right now, Tilly!” she says, sweeping her brown hair into a bun off of her neck, trying to sound angry but mostly too hot to care.

But the camera has already whirred to life, spitting out a shiny white square that, in less than two minutes, will have captured the moment forever. It’s a policy of mine, as guidance counselor: sit on my couch, risk getting snapped. On the wall behind Susanna, I’ve created a giant mural of all the faces who’ve sunk into my worn love seat, looking for answers.

“So really, are we honestly doing this?” she says again. “This musical? You’re serious about it?”

Okay, another confession: I have a wee bit of difficulty saying no, refusing requests when I have reason, every right to refuse them in the first place. I am the person who other people know will invariably say yes, so I’m asked for a lot of things, which means that I also say yes to all of said things. So, two strikes against me, as Tyler would say, mostly because he likes to use baseball analogies whenever possible, but also because he’s right, my will is not my greatest asset.

“Sue me,” I say to him.

“Never,” he answers. “It would be too easy.”

So when Principal Anderson called me three nights ago at home, apoplectic that due to budget cuts, or as he put it in a tight voice that reminded me of someone who had pulled a groin muscle, “If that stupid Department of Education actually cared about educating any of these children rather than their goddamned bottom line!” he had to fire Jancee Cartwright, the music department head, and now he had no one to coordinate the fall musical, and did I know anyone who might be able to pitch in? “Well, sure I do,” I replied, and then promptly volunteered myself, as well as Susanna, who teaches ninth- and tenth-grade English.

“You starred in Grease our senior year, Susie,” I say now, watching her cheeks turn from a shade vaguely resembling fuchsia to one nearly perfectly cherry red, a shift I decide to attribute to the heat. “You’ll do great. It’ll be super fun! Just like old times!”

“Old times were fifteen years ago, Tilly!”

“Thirteen,” I say, correcting her. “And who cares?”

She sighs, her equivalent of a white flag.

“I’m just a girl who can’t say no,” I say, already giggling at my joke, ignoring the truthfulness of it, but she just looks at me blankly. I can see her eyelids sweating. “From Oklahoma! Get it?”

“Oh,” she says, then closes her eyes. “I think I might have heatstroke.”


Excerpted from The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch Copyright © 2010 by Allison Winn Scotch. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

ALLISON WINN SCOTCH is the author of the novels Time of My Life and The Department of Lost and Found. She lives in New York.

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One That I Want 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
angeleyesAS More than 1 year ago
Another wonderful "What if" book.. what if, you could suddenly see into the future of your perfectly mapped out life, are you leading the life you thought you would? And would you change it? Tilly Farmer marries her high school sweetheart, works as a counselor at the local high school, fixes everyone's problems, works on the prom for the kids and wants to have a baby. She goes to the local fair, where she encounters an old classmate who is a fortune teller. Suddenly, she seems to have a special "gift"; she starts seeing into her future. Tilly is dreaming about future events. However, the dreams are more like nightmares and, worse yet, they are coming true. How exciting is that?! Engaging romp, sometimes fun, other times.not so much!
SHASTALOVE More than 1 year ago
Tilly Farmer believes that she has it all: great family, great friends and happily married to her high school sweetheart, with whom she's trying to have a baby. But when a visit to an old friend, now a psychic, leaves Tilly with the ability to see into the future, she begins having startling visions which end up coming true. Exciting read!
ILgirl07 More than 1 year ago
A must read! Scotch is a fabulous writer and her latest does not disappoint! An intimate look at the life of a woman who thinks she has it all, only to discover that sometimes it only takes an alternate way of looking at something to discover that life is not always what you hope for. Go buy it right now!
Sole More than 1 year ago
I would like to explain all the story about this book, but this book talks for itself because you can read hundreds of times and you will love this reading forever. You can imagine the characters and you can draw a perfect portrait for each one but when the main character looks into the futures, it's so bright it burns her eyes.
AnnmarieO More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of this author and her latest novel does not disappoint. The main character, Tilly Farmer, has always been the glue to hold her family together. She lost her mother to cancer as a teenager and has struggled to keep her alcoholic father sober while playing mother to her two younger sisters. She now has the life she has always wanted. She is a guidance counselor at her small town alma mater and is married to her high school sweetheart. They are trying to have a baby and she is confident then her life will be perfect. Tilly runs into an old friend who offers her a psychic reading. Soon after, Tilly starts having visions of the future that become true. Her visions show her beloved husband packing a moving truck in their driveway and her father relapsing. Suddenly, the future life that she always had so much faith in, is in jeopardy. This is a beautifully written story about the dreams of the future and the reality of what happens when those dreams are shattered.
Angela_Schlough1984 More than 1 year ago
The story first starts out with Tilly getting ready to go to the local fair with her best friend. At the fair she goes into a fortune tellers tent. The fortune teller was one of her childhood friends. So, Tilly decides to let Ashley give her a reading. At the end of the reading Ashley says what happens to her will give her clarity. When Tilly is looking at photos from her past things start to happen. She starts getting cramps & then she blacks out and starts to see the future. First, she sees her dad stummbling out of a bar, then she sees a U-Haul in her driveway. Is she moving or is someone eles? There are more "visions" that Tilly has, but that would give the book away! You also find out in the story that Tilly use to love taking pictures, until her mom passed away. She still took pictures when she was at work of the students who came into her office (she is a guideance counseler). Will she start taking photos again? What I've learned: I love that the book talked about photography, because I too love photography! I learned that you don't always have to be the one who fixes everything that goes wrong. There are others who are willing to help if you just ask them to help you!
LizFenton More than 1 year ago
Tilly Farmer thought she had it all. Married to her high school sweetheart and trying for a baby, it seemed like life couldn't be any more perfect. But when a chance encounter with a childhood friend gives her the "gift" of being able to see into the future, her life comes crumbling apart when these visions start to come true. Soon her recovering alcoholic father starts drinking again and her marriage starts coming apart at the seems. Tilly's always been the one that takes care of everybody else, now she's the one who's in desperate need of some help. Scotch does a beautiful job of developing engaging characters that we care about. Case in point: I finished this book in twelve hours! Her writing flows easy and her dialogue rings true. Although at first glance you may think The One That I Want is just a breezy beach read, Scotch gives it depth by examining whether happiness is the life that you've nursed for decades or in the ability to look beyond it and take a leap of faith. Either way, you'll be rooting for Tilly to figure it out before it's too late. I LOVED this book! Don't you dare leave for the beach this summer without it!
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Westlake, Washington, thirtyish Tilly Farmer believes strongly she lives the American dream with one glaring exception. A guidance counselor at the high school she graduated from, Tilly married her teenage boyfriend Tyler. The exception is they remain Dinks (double income no children) as she wants kids to round out her perception of the perfect American family. At a fair, Tilly runs into her high school friend Ashley who tells fortunes. The fortuneteller reads Tilly's future leaving a stunned woman who has her rosy colored glasses removed. Tilly mentally puts on Tyler's shoes to see their relationship from his perspective; she concludes he never moved passed his college sports injury that left him stuck in Westlake rather than the bit city pros. She takes a fresh look at her sister living in Los Angeles and instead of pity she feels envy. Finally new art teacher Eli challenges Tilly to stop being Mother Teresa and return to her love of photography. Allison Winn Scotch provides an intriguing character study of a woman whose idyllic life shatters one relationship at a time once she realizes that her nurturing others at the cost to her well-being hurts them too. The support cast is strong as each enhances the reader's understanding of lead protagonist's motives. Although even with the paranormal element of visions, fans will early on predict the path of the story line, but Tilly and company make for a deep tale focusing on relationship opportunity costs. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the main character to be somewhat self-focused and unaware until the very end. Made it frustrating to read for me. Too many storylines going on to really give any depth to the important ones.
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Jessica Larmour More than 1 year ago
Entertaining enough.
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txwildflower More than 1 year ago
The story centers on a couple who were childhood sweethearts, married, and then the guy decides he doesn't want to be married any longer and leaves. Neither the story or the characters have any depth and you can't get into the book. Guess it would be a quick chick-lit, beach read.