Treasure Blume has a gift. At least, that’s how her grandmother explains it. It’s been passed down through generations and it works slightly differently for each family member so, ahem, blessed. Treasure’s particular brand of the gift makes people, those older than puberty and younger than retirement age, take an immediate dislike to her upon meeting her, or even being in her vicinity, and they have no idea why. It only fades away if they take the time and have the inclination to get to know her past her initial bad first impression.
At age 24, Treasure is a new teacher, having barely gotten the job despite her sterling credentials and recommendations (she had to be interviewed, didn’t she?) because the Las Vegas school was desperate. She’s never had a romantic life, obviously, and her best friends are her grandmother’s geriatric dance team, whom Treasure has emulated in dress (polyester and sweaters with animals on them are her default mode of dress).
The good thing is that her students love her, the way 6 year olds can. She’s a great teacher and goes out of her way to connect with her students and their parents, makes learning fun and is sensitive to their various issues.
She has figured out a way to live with her gift, even if it means limiting herself to a small group of family and friends, most of whom are over 60 years old. We meet Treasure’s father (the only issue I had with the book, the way he talked seemed unnatural and might have caused me to stop reading, but he was the only one afflicted, so I assumed it was a character trait), her mother, brother, sister and Grammy. With the exception of her sister, who had hit puberty by the time Treasure happened along, they all look out for her in the big bad world and try to cushion the blows to her ego and self-esteem that being around strangers inspire.
Not that Treasure is the shy and retiring type, although she’s had plenty enough reason to be wary around new people (or even bitchy). She’s outspoken and tough and doesn’t cower, even when faced with outright hostility. She’s simply grown used to it.
Then we meet Dennis. Dennis has taken a job as a lunch lady in his daughter’s school and Micaela just happens to be in Ms. Blume’s class. Dennis is a single father who gave up his rising career as a chef when his mother was diagnosed with cancer and Micaela’s mother (a showgirl) wanted nothing to do with her daughter after the novelty had of a newborn had worn off. Dennis over compensates and is a little over protective, but he’s a really good dad. Initially, he thinks that Treasure is insensitive to his little girls needs, but changes his mind when he sees that Treasure is a very thoughtful teacher. He even agrees to let Micaela take dance lessons with Grammy despite his aversion to dancing because of his ex-wife’s profession.
From there, Dennis comes to know Treasure. He begins to see past his first impression and they begin dating. What follows is a relatively young woman coming out of her shell, the new people around her warming to her and Treasure making friends with people who aren’t her family and she hasn’t known since she was six. Dennis knows about the gift and hasn’t had to live with it his whole life, but takes it upon himself to “save” Treasure from outsiders who don’t know her but despise her anyway. And that is what causes the conflict between them, because she doesn’t need or want a savior and, even though this is her first relationship and it’s unlikely that she’ll ever find someone else who sees past their initial dislike of her, and despite the fact that she’s fallen hard for this man, Treasure doesn’t want Dennis to protect her from the world, so she walks away.
I sometimes find it hard to get into a book by an author I’ve never read or heard of before, but for some reason, I keep requesting them from Netgalley. I requested this book because of the title and the cover and I thought it would be interesting (the blurb doesn’t give a lot away). I did not expect to like it so very much. Treasure is a person who does not apologize for her eccentricities and peculiarities. Granted, it didn’t matter what she dressed like or acted, people aren’t going to like her anyway, so she disregards everyone’s opinion of her. The way she stands up for herself and those who cannot and those traits really made me love her. She is at once vulnerable and strong, the best kind of heroine.
The other characters in this book, particularly Grammy, added so much to the story. It was funny and sad and really made me think about how we treat others and people’s perceptions, but it was still a light-hearted, sweet, story. The legend behind the gift was interesting and seemed plausible. We’ve all encountered someone who just rubbed us the wrong way or maybe we’ve felt unlovable ourselves. It was a unique story about a unique girl and I am very glad I was able to read this book.