Book Review: "The Transformation of Things" by Jillian Cantor

Jennifer Levenworth has a headache—a great, big, pounding headache. It could be because her husband, a judge, is indicted on bribery charges, leaving her unsure about everything in her marriage. The headache could also be caused by the news stations, every one of which is covering the story, or the local paper, where it’s plastered on the front page. Or it could be because the friends Jennifer thought she knew and trusted have turned their backs on her in her greatest hour of need.

But there is something else very odd going on, and the headache isn’t quite what it seems. In fact, Jennifer doesn’t feel exactly right, and all of her thoughts aren’t her own. Suddenly privy to hear and see things her family and friends are saying and even thinking in their most private moments, she has new insight into all of their inner-most emotions and secrets. Her herbalist says it’s stress combined with her imagination. . . but something unbelievable has happened to Jennifer. Something that allows her to finally see the people around her more clearly. And what she sees beyond the surface of other people’s lives, ultimately allows her to transform her own.

Sometimes I wish that I really could live in a book. The characters get to experience things that are not at all possible in real life. If I was given the chance to get a redo of my life and get to look at things from a distance before making decision, I would jump at the opportunity. Unfortunately that will never happen, so the next best thing is to experience through the eyes of a character in a book. In this book, we meet Jennifer who has just discovered that her husband has been living a lie in their relationship and her life is about to become completely changed.

Throughout the story, Jennifer begins to reevaluate the relationships she has with those around her. These include her so called friends, her true friends, her husband and other members of her family. She has somehow been given insight to these people's lives and begins to see how they really feel and what they are really thinking. The one that stuck out to me the most was how she begins to see her sister in a different light. This is partially due to the Jennifer seeing Kelly's mother in law from how Kelly sees her, and it's not pretty. There's a line in the story that mentions about how some women are not meant to be mothers and Bev is definitely one of those women.

While I really liked the story, I felt a little deceived by the ending. It just felt like a cop-out ending to me. I felt like everything I had been reading in the book was just a lie. Don't get me wrong, it was done very well and I had enjoyed what I read. I just felt like the rug had been thrown out from under my feet and I'm not really a big fan of that when I read a book. It's different from just a twist that catches you off guard. I also was not a real big fan of the dream sequences. It would take me a long time (and probably Jennifer herself) to realize whose perspective the dream was coming from.

Overall I did like the book a lot. It's an engaging read and the characters are all very interesting. There's some cursing for those that aren't a fan of it but otherwise this story is a good read to enjoy on a winter afternoon. It's written in a light tone but the story is deep and reflective. I haven't read Cantor's YA books but after reading this one, I'm eager to go back and find those. I'll also be looking forward to more adult fiction titles from her as well.

The Transformation of Things by Jillian Cantor is published by Avon A (2010)

This ARC was provided by the publisher


  1. I haven't read this yet, but I've heard a lot of comments about the ending being disappointing. That's too bad --but I love what you said about wanting to live in a book. I feel that way all of the time.


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