Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman

Source: Author Beth Hoffman
Hardcover, 354 pages
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Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman is a coming of age story for Teddi Overman who has a gift for restoring old furniture that speaks to her.  Her small, close-knit family from Kentucky is as diverse in background and interests as any family could be, with her brother Josh so attuned to nature — he’s almost as wild as the animals he observes and cares for — to her uptight mother Franny, who has secrets hidden deep inside.  Teddi is an independent and stubborn girl whose life is altered when she meets an older man, Mr. Palmer, who’s passing through town.  He buys a refurbished chest from her side-of-the-road shop and encourages her to follow her dream and look him up in South Carolina.  When she graduates from high school, something irrevocably changes for her family as each member either seeks freedom or learns to find that freedom is already there.

“Some people run toward life, arms flung wide in anticipation.  Others crack open the door and take a one-eyed peek to see what’s out there.  Then there are those who give up on life long before their heart stops beating — all used up, worn out, and caved in, yet they wake each morning and shuffle their tired legs through another day.”  (page 1)

The double meaning in the title comes into play when her brother makes his flight from the family farm.  The close relationship between Josh and Teddi is tender and endearing, but it also makes his lack of communication with his sister heart-breaking.  In many ways, looking for me is not about Teddi finding herself — because she already knows who she is and what she wants out of life — but about her finding the piece of herself that went missing when her brother left.  Early on in the story, even Teddi recognizes that leaving home means leaving something of yourself behind, and she even suggests that it’s a piece that cannot be reclaimed, but waits for your return and for you to remember.  Recovering that piece of herself is a journey only she can accomplish, but even so, she can and does lean on the support system of friends she finds in Charleston.

Olivia and Teddi tell each other like it is, and like most real-life friends, keep secrets from one another when they know the unsolicited advice they’d receive is not something they would want to hear.  Teddi rebuilds and refinishes furniture, but in many ways she uses those same skills to restore her own family, which fell into disrepair through a series of missteps and miscommunications.  Through a greater understanding of her mother and father’s motivations and backgrounds, Teddi is able to come to terms with her past and embrace her future fully.  Grammy Belle, Josh, Sam, Albert, Inez, and Olivia will leave lasting impressions on Hoffman’s readers, causing them to be missed something fierce when the last page is turned.

Second novels can suffer from harsh criticism, especially when they follow a wildly successful debut novel, like Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt (my review), but Looking for Me breaks through preconceived expectations to weave a story that will enchant readers with not only its southern charm and hospitality, but also the mysteries of family connections and miscommunications.  Hoffman’s second novel is captivating from the first pages and will give readers hope that the future is brighter than we expect it to be.  Another winner from an author I love.

About the Author:

Twelve days after Beth Hoffman’s first novel was published in January 2010, she became a New York Times bestselling author with foreign rights selling to prestigious publishers in Italy, Germany, France, Poland, Norway, Hungary, Indonesia, Korea, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

Before beginning her writing career, Beth was president and co-owner of an interior design studio. An artist as well as an award-winning designer, her paintings are displayed in private and corporate collections in the United States, Canada, and the UK.

Beth lives, along with her husband and two very smart cats, in a restored Queen Anne home in a quaint historic district in Northern Kentucky. Her interests include the rescue of abandoned and abused animals, nature conservancy, birding, historic preservation, and antiquing.  Visit her on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. What a gorgeous review and I know Beth will treasure it!

  2. I’m glad you loved this one as much as I did!

  3. Beth Hoffman says

    I’m toying with the idea of a sequel, yet a big part of me likes leaving the story as a stand alone because it’s so representative of real life – rarely do we get all the answers to the questions and mysteries of our families. But I love the story and characters so much that I’m seriously considering it!

    • I hope we get to see it, but no pressure. I just really loved these characters, and I think they have more to tell.

  4. Beth Hoffman says

    Oh my goodness … your review is beautiful! You’re right, it’s scary to begin crafting a second novel after the first was wildly popular, but I decided to push my fears aside, dig deep, and give myself permission to write the story that I wanted to tell. I’m delighted that you enjoyed Teddi’s story and grateful for your thoughtful words. Thank you, Serena!

    • Beth, I was so nervous about writing this review because I didn’t want to not like the book, but I picked it up and began reading and couldn’t put it down and pushed aside other books I was reading to finish it. Though I wonder if there will be more to this story…perhaps we’ll learn more about Josh??

  5. I am in the minority of those who did not like the Saving Cee Cee book but I’d certainly like to read this one.

  6. Captivating from the first pages.. love that. I also love Southern charm so I know I will be reading her work someday.

  7. Fantastic review of a fantastic book!

  8. I know what you mean about second books. If I were an author I’d be way more scared of publishing a second than a first! :–)

  9. I couldn’t agree with you more. This book was WONDERFUL.