book review: The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise by Colleen Oakley
Overview: Louise took a fall on the edge of a rug, and to avoid being sent to a nursing home, she agrees to have someone move in to assist her. Tanner took a fall off a balcony at Northwestern resulting in the loss of her soccer scholarship that lands her back in Atlanta and in Louise's house. Though Tanner isn't a nurse or particularly enthusiastic about her live-in job, she doesn't have much of a choice. While they're an odd pair for a while, when Louise ropes Tanner into driving her on a cross-country mission, they become closer with every passing mile. Hilarious and full of heart, this book is well worth the read. Overall: 5
Characters: 5 Colleen Oakley knows how to write characters that pop. Louise is a particular old lady who has quite the snarky, spunky spirit. She has great quips and a real regal sense about her which clashes with Tanner's depressed affect towards life immediately. She's a unique character that stands out, and while she can come across as cold, you can tell that facade is there to cover up how much she cares. Tanner has a lot of processing to do over the course of the book. She starts withdrawn and in mourning for her old life, but as her wild adventure with Louise progresses, she's forced back into the present in a way that allows her to re-evaluate her life. Even the secondary characters are quirky and unique and all stand out in their own ways as they flit through the story.
Plot: 5 There's always something going on in this book. The wacky events start unfolding from the very first page, and the distinct charm really helps power this story forward. Whether it's the normal of Tanner and Louise adjusting to one another to their wilder time on the run, the book is fueled by a constant sense of urgency and new happenings. There's a bit of mystery in that Louise's past is a constantly evolving question. You're lead down many dead ends while very subtle clues about the real answers are threaded throughout. It makes for a very satisfying ending as all the clues and red herrings combine into a suddenly clear picture.
Writing: 5 I loved Oakley's super clear voice that comes through in both her characters and her plot. It felt expertly crafted but not in a tedious, intellectual way that's flashy about the expert work. Instead it comes through in that invisible way where you just want to devour the book. It's only in hindsight when you realize how spectacular it all turned out to be and how much effort goes into creating such a distinct lightness. This is truly a masterclass in how you write a fun, heartwarming, funny book that packs a punch.
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