Friday, March 31, 2023

Book Review: The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise by Colleen Oakley

Pages: 352
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: March 28, 2023
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Twenty-one-year-old Tanner Quimby needs a place to live. Preferably one where she can continue sitting around in sweatpants and playing video games nineteen hours a day. Since she has no credit or money to speak of, her options are limited, so when an opportunity to work as a live-in caregiver for an elderly woman falls into her lap, she takes it. One slip on the rug. That’s all it took for Louise Wilt’s daughter to demand that Louise have a full-time nanny living with her. Never mind that she can still walk fine, finish her daily crossword puzzle, and pour the two fingers of vodka she drinks every afternoon. Bottom line -- Louise wants a caretaker even less than Tanner wants to be one. The two start off their living arrangement happily ignoring each other until Tanner starts to notice things—weird things. Like, why does Louise keep her garden shed locked up tighter than a prison? And why is the local news fixated on the suspect of one of the biggest jewelry heists in American history who looks eerily like Louise? And why does Louise suddenly appear in her room, with a packed bag at 1 a.m. insisting that they leave town immediately? Thus begins the story of a not-to-be-underestimated elderly woman and an aimless young woman who—if they can outrun the mistakes of their past—might just have the greatest adventure of their lives."


Louise Wilt is an 84 year old woman who lives alone and is recovering from a fall that hurt her hip. Much to her chagrin, her children have decided she needs a caretaker. They ask a family friend, Tanner, who is twenty-one years old and does much of nothing all day since she dropped out of college. Tanner had a scholarship as a soccer star, but all it took was one accident to injure her leg and her dreams went up in flames. Tanner hasn't quite gotten over this bump in the road and spends most of her day playing video games much to her parents' disappointment. Tanner reluctantly takes this job and neither Louise nor Tanner want to deal with each other. They are most definitely an unlikely pair. As more time passes, Tanner realizes there's more to Louise than just crossword puzzles, doctor appointments, and her daily routines. Tanner notices that a suspect from a jewelry heist in the 70s looks exactly like Louise. How can this be? Before she knows it, Tanner starts noticing strange things around the house and then to make matters worse, Louise demands they leave town after she receives a mysterious letter. Colleen Oakley's The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise is an entertaining story of an unlikely couple who go on an adventure filled with hijinks, mystery, and a surprising friendship.

I really enjoyed Louise from the beginning of The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise. I just realized that the last two books I read have female protagonists that are sixty years or older and I am here for it! I love that Oakley paints Louise as so much more than a grandmother stuck in her house. She lived quite a full life and has aspects of her life that her own kids may not know about. In fact, the FBI even gets involved regarding Louise's mysterious past. Then there's Tanner who was a bit frustrating at times due to her lack of drive. She really let her injury dictate her future and hasn't bounced back at all. Her interactions with Louise were pretty funny at times - a lot of witty back and forth banter. It reminded me of the Odd Couple at times.

The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise took me by surprise. I thought it was going to be a mostly funny story involving an unlikely friendship and while it definitely is that, it was so much more. It highlighted many aspects of society like what it means to be a woman, the difficulties of aging, female friendship, as well as what does it meant to do the right thing. Also, there was definitely a good mystery to the story, which I also enjoyed.  While I didn't like The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise as much as The Invisible Husband of Frick Island, it was still a solid story and would most definitely be a fun one to throw in your bag for spring break.

So, have you read The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise? Are you a fan of Colleen Oakley? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.  


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