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The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise Summary and Reviews

The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise

by Colleen Oakley

The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise by Colleen Oakley X
The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise by Colleen Oakley
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  • Published Mar 2023
    352 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

A "wildly surprising, entertaining" (Jodi Picoult) novel featuring a college dropout and an eighty-four-year-old woman on the run from the law, full of tremendous heart, wit, and wisdom from the USA Today bestselling author of The Invisible Husband of Frick Island.

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.

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Media Reviews

"The antics of this unlikely duo makes for an entertaining buddy drama." —Publishers Weekly "Fans of the Netflix series Dead to Me will likely enjoy this take on the bonds of female friendship. An engaging tale, told well, that looks at unlikely friendships and how doing the right thing can involve very hard choices." —Kirkus Reviews

"Tanner and Louise's growing bond is funny and heartwarming and gives heart to Oakley's latest, but the sharp, witty dialogue and plotting keep the story from becoming too saccharine. A great read-alike for fans of the television show Hacks." —Library Journal

"You'll never be able to see what's coming in this wildly surprising, entertaining ride of a novel—which is a coming-of-age story, a contending-with-age story, and a surprising exploration of how womanhood is a matter of surprising others…and oneself." —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Wish You Were Here

"Colleen Oakley is in a world of her own when it comes to creating lovable, quirky characters—and those in The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise are her best yet. With an abundance of charm and wit, a dose of adventure, and surprises around each corner, you'll be rooting for Tanner and Louise with every turn of the page. An absolute blast." —Taylor Jenkins Reid, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Malibu Rising

"The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise is pure joy on paper. With wit, sass, and real emotion, Tanner and Louise, two unlikely fugitives, find connection, common ground, and true friendship across generations. A delightful reminder that there are meaningful second, third, and even fourth acts in life." —Chandler Baker, New York Times bestselling author of Whisper Network

"Colleen Oakley's The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise is the ultimate road trip, featuring a pair of quirky, original characters on the lam from the law. A funny, fresh take on unlikely friendships and family, I'd ride shotgun with Tanner and Louise in a heartbeat!" —Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of The Newcomer

"Deliciously entertaining, this feminist caper of a novel has a little of everything, from a wild road trip, to quirky and lovable characters, to a "keep you on your toes" mystery. With great charm and wit, The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise offers a dazzling cornucopia of truths: the might of female friendship, that women only get better with age, and that the journey to self-discovery is a path worth taking. Colleen Oakley has done it again—I loved Tanner and Louise!" —Karma Brown, USA Today bestselling author of Recipe for a Perfect Wife

"Absolutely delightful! I would follow Tanner and Louise anywhere." —Elle Cosimano, USA Today bestselling author of Finlay Donovan Is Killing It

"I adored everything about this book. Sparkling writing, characters you root for, an unlikely partnership who may or may not be on the lam from the authorities and twists you didn't see coming. Move over Thelma and Louise and make room for Louise and Tanner!" —Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author of The Rewind

This information about The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Need a Smile?
(No spoilers)

I absolutely loved this entertaining feel-good book. An easy low-key read about female friendships with a dose of intrigue and twists and turns.

Readers who liked “Killers of a Certain Age,” “The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett” or Osman’s Thursday Murder Club series are likely to find this book delightful…as well as anyone looking to smile.

Linda Z. (Melville, NY)

The Adventures of the Young and Old
Colleen Oakley, the author of "The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise," has written a unique and riveting novel. The genres are Literary Friendship Fiction, Contemporary, Humor, Mystery, and Women's Fiction. The timeline is written in the author's present and goes to the past regarding the characters or events. The author describes her colorful and dramatic characters as complex, complicated, quirky, and full of surprises! In this novel, Colleen Oakley's characters are reminiscent of Thelma and Louise. Tanner Quimby is 21, and after a tragic accident, mopes around her house, ruminating about what might have been. Tanner also plays video games and has no money. She is encouraged to care for an elderly woman. Louise Wilt has fallen and required surgery. She is a seasoned 80-ish-year-old woman with an interesting past and many secrets. Louise's children insist that she have a "Nanny." Louise has a routine and really would like to be independent. When Tanner and Louise meet, they are like oil and water. Tanner is immediately aware of quirky behaviors of Louise. It seems that Louise is not exactly the typical 80 -ish type of person. Then again, Tanner doesn't appear to be a typical 21-year-old person either. Tanner is in for quite a surprise when Louise insists they leave town immediately. The two go on an adventure with twists and turns. There are rumors of a large jewel heist from the seventies, and Louise seems to be called another name when she meets some people. There are twists and turns. Louise is on a mission to find someone and, at the same time, avoids both a criminal and the law. I enjoyed this delightful adventure as two women tried to remedy the mistakes from the past to be able to move on to the present and future. I love that the author discusses the importance of family, friendship, and hope. I highly recommend this enjoyable novel.

Mark S. (Blauvelt, NY)

A "Jewel" of a Story
Hats off to Colleen Oakley for writing a story that made me want to read even when I had absolutely no time to do so. This novel is definitely one of the most entertaining stories I have read in the last year. I love the way that the characters are developed both individually and through the relationships between them. Once the plot took off, I did not want to put it down and was sad when it was over. After finishing the story, I felt as if I had simultaneously predicted the ending and gotten it almost entirely wrong. Maybe one of my favorite things about the book is my inability to classify it in any one category. In addition to some really great lines, the novel is a great combination of snarky banter and sentimentality that would be a hit in any book club. I will definitely be reading Oakley's other novels!

Shawna (TX)

Ageless Friendships and Family Secrets
What an unexpectedly enjoyable book! At first glance, you might not consider this novel for a book group. I will choose this for my group. There are many themes to discuss including family secrets and what to share or not share; friendships between young adults and mature adults; and what happens when you are really there for someone.

DeAnn A. (Denver, CO)

Unlikely Pair
This delightful tale features an entirely capable 80-year-old woman (until she falls) and a 21-year-old young woman, forced together to help each other out. Louise needs someone to drive her to appointments while she recovers from her injury and Tanner needs a job and a place to live after too many outbursts with her parents and recovering from her own injury.

The book takes a sudden turn when Louise wakes up Tanner in the middle of the night saying that they must leave town immediately. The two of them embark on a madcap drive across the country with Louise not giving Tanner much insight into what she is doing. Just who is Louise and why is she fleeing? And why is Tanner agreeing to help her?

There was a surprise twist at the end and one of my favorite lines comes from August and the word homophone. I love a smart character who knows vocabulary!

I really enjoyed the unlikely pairing of these two characters and their road adventures. I think this would make an excellent book club book that would generate a lot of discussions.

Mary B. (St Paul, MN)

The Mostly True Story
This book was a delight to read. The two main characters are years apart in age and very different in temperament. Thrown together by misfortune, they struggle to maintain a relationship. Both characters became more likable to me as the story went on and I learned more about them.
Humor abounds throughout the story amongst all the characters. There is also a great deal of warmth and sweetness to story.

Being an older reader myself, I like the idea of a strong older character.

There is a bit of a mystery involved, with twists and turns making it a very enjoyable read.

...73 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Colleen Oakley Author Biography

Colleen Oakley is the USA Today bestselling author of The Invisible Husband of Frick Island, You Were There Too, Close Enough to Touch, and Before I Go. Her books have been named best books by People, Us Weekly, Library Journal, and Real Simple, and have been long-listed for the Southern Book Prize. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, four kids, and the world's biggest lapdog.

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