Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Heart Like Mine

Author: Amy Hatvany
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type: ARC ebook
Source: NetGalley
Publication Date: March 19, 2013
Publisher: Washington Square Press
First Line: Grace - "Later I would look back and wonder what I was doing the exact moment Kelli died."

Publisher's Description: When a young mother dies under mysterious circumstances, those she leaves behind begin looking for answers in the past—and find a long-buried secret they could have never imagined.Thirty-six-year-old Grace McAllister never longed for children. But when she meets Victor Hansen, a handsome, charismatic divorced restaurateur who is father to Max and Ava, Grace decides that, for the right man, she could learn to be an excellent part-time stepmom. After all, the kids live with their mother, Kelli. How hard could it be?

At thirteen, Ava Hansen is mature beyond her years. Since her parents’ divorce, she has been the one taking care of her emotionally unstable mother and her little brother—she pays the bills, does the laundry, and never complains because she loves her mama more than anyone. And while her father’s new girlfriend is nice enough, Ava still holds out hope that her parents will get back together and that they’ll be a family again.

But only days after Victor and Grace get engaged, Kelli dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances—and soon, Grace and Ava discover there was much more to Kelli’s life than either ever knew.

Narrated by Grace and Ava in the present with flashbacks into Kelli’s troubled past, Heart Like Mine is a poignant and hopeful portrait about womanhood, love, and the challenges of family life

My Thoughts: I thought that this was a very heart-felt and honest portrayal of the blending of a stepfamily as well as facing the sudden loss of a parent.  This is a very character driven storyline and could have easily become a cheesy, sappy and melodramatic read.  Luckily, Hatvany gives her characters very authentic and believable voices as they each tell their side of the story.  True, Hatvany does have a lot of 'balls in the air' as she pieces together the relationships between the main women in the story but she does it well.  

The story is told via two main points of view (Ava and Grace) as well as a look back into Kelli's past.  I appreciated and enjoyed seeing how and why Kelli became the woman and mother she was.  By incorporating her background I felt like it made Kelli much more of an important character than just the deceased mother of Ava and Max.  We get to see how her world was shaped by her upbringing, her early choices as well as how it affected her self-image and future choices.

This is a book about relationships and I appreciated the skill at which Hatvany gives the reader a realistic view into family life.  With Grace we have a successful woman who struggles to come to terms with her changing world.  She not only has a new marriage and the unexpected role as full-time stepmom, but she also has to deal with a future that isn't what she had planned.  

We also get to see the dynamics between Ava and Grace as they both try to figure out what their relationship will be. We see Ava deal with the devastating loss of her mom as well as struggle with her new feelings towards Grace, a woman whom her mother practically vilified.  It's these familial dynamics which made the book for me.

My only issue with this book was the very abrupt and unsatisfying ending. It honestly shocked me that it just ... ended.  I wanted to hear Kelli's parents' point of view and I desperately wanted to know what happened to Rebecca but the reader was left with a very lackluster ending. 

In the end "Heart Like Mine" is a story about wanting to belong and be loved and finding that family can take many different forms.  It shows the struggles some people face in finding their place in their family and the world.  Overall the book had a nice flow, the writing was interesting and the voices of the characters were believable making this an enjoyable read.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Note: My sincere thanks to Washington Square Press and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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