9780670025831_p0_v1_s260x420Reviewed by Colleen Turner

“My grandmother tilted her head, her face softening in the dimming light. “Honey, I’ve lived more years than I care to count. When I look back and think about all I’ve learned, there’s one thing that always stands out”…. “Sometimes it’s not what we hold on to that shapes our lives – it’s what we’re willing to let go of.” – from Looking For Me

Shortly after graduating high school, Teddi Overman set off to find her destiny. Loving nothing more than taking discarded, unloved furniture and breathing new life back into it, Teddi refuses to take her mother’s harsh yet practical advice to find a secure, stable future and drives instead into an unknown one that holds the promise of happiness and adventure. Finding that future in Charleston, she keeps her eye on the ultimate dream of owning her own antiques shop and, with great determination and hard work, eventually realizes that dream.

While her life becomes firmly planted in Charleston a part of her heart stays back on her family’s farm in Kentucky, tied to not only her childhood memories, both good and bad, but to her brother who disappeared one night long ago. Leaving in search of his own ideal life, her brother walked away into the wilderness he loved so much and was never seen from again. Teddi, who loved his gentle and caring nature, could never come to terms with the fact that her brother was really gone.

As Teddi’s life unfolds she learns that within each person’s heart there are secrets that aren’t always revealed until you least expect it, sometimes after the person has already left this world and can no longer hold on to them, and sometimes never. And with these revelations and many more, Teddi must decide what she should hold on to and what she must ultimately let go of in order to be at peace with this life she has made for herself.

Looking for Me is the best kind of southern fiction, combining unforgettable, often quirky characters with a touch of mysticism and a heavy dose of loss and sadness. Teddi is a remarkable character and I was continually amazed at her ability to forgive and to seek forgiveness when she was the one who truly seemed to have been wronged. The vivid imagery of her family’s farm in Kentucky and the historic streets of Charleston really helped immerse me in the story and I found Teddi’s eclectic shop to be a wonderful place to linger. There are so many enjoyable secondary characters that really fleshed out Teddi’s life and helped make the story feel real and familiar. Even her beloved dog Eddie stole my heart!

The only character I didn’t enjoy was Teddi’s mother, who was continually negative and, at times, downright cruel. Even when her back story was told I didn’t feel her disappointments justified the animosity for life she spewed on her children. I can completely understand her wish to try and shield Teddi from disappointment by trying to force her to find a secure future where she could take care of herself but the years of distance and nastiness just turned me off of her character.

While I also enjoyed the romantic relationship Teddi develops in Looking for Me I didn’t feel it was necessary for the story line and materialized too late in the book. I was happy to see Teddi find love but it felt more like story filler than crucial to her journey.

Looking for Me is the perfect read for this time of year: something to immerse yourself in for a delightful escape while relaxing under the sun or wiling away the hours inside on a rainy afternoon. I look forward to spending some more time in one of Beth Hoffman’s worlds in the future.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Pamela Dorman Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.