Wednesday, September 28, 2011

You Never Know by Lilian Duval

You Never Know:  Tales of Tobias, an Accidental Lottery Winner is a dramatic fiction novel.

Tobias Hillyer is about to set on a journey that will change his life forever.  After being accepted to an intern program at college, Tobias is preparing to travel to South America to live amongst the tribes and document his findings.  However, before that occurs, he and his family are in a car accident and both Tobias' parents are killed and his younger brother is left severely brain-damaged.  Giving up his career and his future, Tobias sets himself to look after his brother and help him to regain the use of his former self.

Simeon or Simmy as he is called by his friends and relatives had a very promising career as a cartoon artist, by the time he is fifteen, he had already won many awards.  Simmy has been reduced to having to learn everything all over again and for many years, it doesn't look like he will ever regain his talent or his independence.

Carmela Liston is a nurse who befriends Tobias and helps Simmy to regain his full capabilities.  She ingrains herself into the two lives and ensures that they become dependent upon her.  She manipulates her way into their lives and their hearts.

Throughout the pages we learn of the growth of Simmy, and watch as the relationship between Tobias and Carmela grows.  We hear of their worries, their strengths, their lies and their triumphs.

One day, Tobias is late for an engagement with his family, after he helps a blind man get onto the subway.  While waiting for the next train to arrive, he purchases a lottery ticket.  When he realizes he has won, at a time when his finances are stretched to their limits, he believes that all will be well.

However, with the winnings, we also learn the real basis of each of the characters involved.  Such as Marcus, Tobias' best friend, who requires money to keep his business afloat, or Elespeth, who took a chance on Tobias and Simeon when no one else would, or his Aunt Joyce who also needs a loan to keep her music studio open.  Everyone has a story and they all want a piece of the winnings that Tobias has won.

After a very serious incident concerning his daughter, Tobias comes to realize that money doesn't buy everything.  Family, love and trust are all that matters in life and no amount of money can buy the things that are most important to a human being.  Will Tobias be able to remain true to himself and his family, or will the unexpected win fall destroy them all??

I thought the book was a presentable debut novel by author, Lilian Duval.  I liked the idea of sharing a story about a family that had won the lottery and seeing the outcome of that situation.  I thought the premise to losing his parents was an emotionally charged chapter that would leave anyone feeling for Tobias and his mature decisions concerning his brother's fate.

I loved Simeon and Tobias equally, they were well written and believable in their character traits, they did not deter from who they were originally depicted as, even after the lottery win.  I liked the friendship between Marcus and Tobias and how it grew over the years as the two men grew older.  Many in life drift away and even though Marcus continued with his college and made a career out of his business degree, working at Lehmans, he never left Tobias behind.

I truly did not enjoy Carmela, I found her to be a lying, conniving, poor excuse for a partner.  If it hadn't been for an overhead conversation, she would have cheated on Tobias.  My only thought while reading was mayhaps Tobias would realize what kind of women she was and divorce her.  From the moment she met Tobias, she manipulated herself into his life and made him rely on her.  I believe relationships built on this kind of foundation are doomed to fail.

I liked how the winnings brought the true nature of out the characters.  Carmela and her free spending on whatever she wishes and wants, personal shoppers which creeped her daughter out, personal trainers and every brand label clothing she could get her greedy hands upon.The few times that Tobias spent more than he wanted, breaking his own rule, she was always quick to point out his shortcomings, whenever she was questioned.  As far as I could tell, other than a couple of paintings, Tobias was looking to make wise business investments to ensure his family's new fortune wouldn't just eat itself.

I would give this book three and a half stars out of five, I felt the pace of the story dragged in places and a few of the time lines were confusing.  Time passed too quickly in some instances and you were left with a feeling of bewilderment and in other places, time took forever to pass, giving the reader too much detail and not enough plot.  I truly did not enjoy Carmela, reading about her was horrid, but not that she was written in a bad way, quite the opposite, just her character didn't sit right with me and I kept rolling my eyes whenever I was reading her actions.  All in all, the writing is excellent and the plot is fair and in the end, dreams really do come true if you have the money to afford them!!

** Disclosure: I did not accept any compensation from the sponsors other than review copies, my views are my own, reviewed by I see it~!! **