If you follow our blog regularly you know there are a couple things we can’t live without: our dogs and traveling. So when my friend Laura introduced me to a book that offered a unique perspective on both of my favorite subjects I jumped at the chance to read it – Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman.
My fellow bookworms have most likely read Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, Beth’s first book about Twelve-year-old CeeCee who takes care of her psychotic mother, Camille— a lipstick-smeared laughingstock who lives in a small Ohio town and believes it’s 1951…and that she’s just been crowned the Vidalia Onion Queen of Georgia. Oye.(If you haven’t had a chance to pick this one up PLEASE do! It’s a great beach read!) But luckily for us, Beth delivered another charming story you’re sure to love. Luckier for me, I recently got to talk to Beth about Looking for Me and discovered what inspired her and where the books fiction collides with her real life.
Looking For Me tells the story of Teddi Overman, a small town girl who leaves her family farm in the woodlands of Kentucky to follow her passion and open an antique shop in Charleston (one my favorite cities in the US + Kelly’s recent vacation destination!) As you follow Teddi’s challenging decision of chasing her dreams and doing what she loves, while knowing her family may suffer as a result, you get to know a motley crew of characters, each facing their own unique struggles, in her adopted historic, southern city – which seems like a world away from the home her family devoted their lives to. Beth never gives you the opportunity to be comfortable with Teddi’s decision, as events like mysterious deaths, unresolved family drama and financial struggles plague her.
If you’ve ever been to Charleston you will understand that it has such unique and unmistakable charm it could pass for being a character in a book – so when I asked Beth why she picked Kentucky and Charleston as the backdrops for her story it didn’t surprise me when she said “I see them (the locations) as being rich characters. The people that live in both those cities are there for a reason. I highlight the things I love – and these places are my joy.” #PREACH Note: after reading this book it is absolutely impossible to not plan a trip to Lexington and Charleston. Just ask Stripes…
Speaking of things she loves, the book also revolves around Teddi’s brother Josh, a character inspired by her real-life brother. Josh is a deeply troubled boy who was as fiercely passionate as he was sensitive about nature and animals. Mini-spoiler alert: Josh disappears into the woodlands of Kentucky after a particularly terrible (AND I MEAN TERRIBLE – I had to put the book down for an entire day) animal tragedy and is never recovered. Teddi is left to struggle with the reality that the real world was too difficult for him to bear – and what he loved most was exactly what made life too excruciating for him. I asked Beth how she could write Josh so well, and she shared that the part of Josh that had that tragic edge came about because her brother took a bad turn as a teen, and her parents weren’t able to grab hold of it. “When my younger brother took the worst turn and broke everyone’s heart I wondered if his love for nature would have made all the difference.” Josh is Beth’s response to that question – but if you are looking for an answer you won’t find it here. Get the book!
While I loved reading about Charleston, Teddi and Josh, my favorite characters were those covered in fur or feathers! Like me, Beth is a HUGE animal lover. In fact, she created an author tour that gave back to local animal shelters, humane societies, and rescue animals. We even talked about how hard it was to lose our dogs – which was a tough conversation since I had recently lost my chocolate lab Clair (pictured below) – who was indescribably kind and loving (not to mention handsome!) She had been through a similar loss and said the perfect things to comfort me. How lucky am I to have a New York Times best-selling author as my personal canine grief counselor? Nature and animals are woven into the story in such a beautiful, and often tragic, way – it’s what kept me staying up way past my bedtime to finish the book!
As I may have mentioned, Beth New York Times best-selling author, and a pretty big deal, but we chatted like long-lost girlfriends and by the end of our call we decide we would be besties. So yea, no big deal #humblebrag. In fact, I think she wrote the quote below about me:
“That’s what friends should do. Cherish the good and pretend not to notice the harmless rest.”
― Beth Hoffman, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
Now get on Amazon.com and order yourself a copy of Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman. You won’t be sorry.