Heart Like Mine by Amy Hatvany
ISBN: 9781451640564 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781451640571 (ebook)
ASIN: B008J4E29O (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication date: March 19, 2013
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.
Grace McAllister is an accomplished woman. She worked in human resources and volunteered for charitable groups before becoming the director of a charitable agency that provides shelter, clothing, and training for victims of domestic violence. She has never had any desire to have children or be a mother and despairs that she'll ever find a man that understands her desire to remain childless. Fortunately she meets Victor Hansen. Victor is a divorced restaurateur with two children from his marriage. He's quite happy allowing his ex-wife to be the primary custodial parent and doesn't really have any desire to have more children. Kelli Hansen is Victor's ex-wife and is needy, dependent upon others for support and emotionally fragile. Ava Hansen is only thirteen years old but she's been forced to grow up quite fast and take over many of the household management responsibilities after her father left. She tries to support her mother as best as she can by helping around the house, watching her younger brother Max and even paying the bills. The lives of these three women intersect because of their relationships with Victor Hansen, but none of them know how the repercussions of one death will affect the survivors.
Heart Like Mine is a contemporary fiction read that addresses some major issues: what is family, teenage angst over boys, teenage pregnancy, emotional instability, survivor's guilt, guilt over not wanting to experience motherhood, and more. Ms. Hatvany has taken a number of complex issues and carefully woven them into a story that has drama without being overly dramatic or trite. This story is told in three voices, those of the three primary female characters: Grace, Ava and Kelli. All three stories gradually reveal a tragic past that is adversely impacting the present. The reader is provided glimpses of Kelli's life that hint at depression as well as the idea that her death may have been a suicide. It was heartbreaking to read Ava's story and see her guilt at not being strong enough to see her mother's need for assistance. In many respects Ava had to grow up at age 10 and assume a lot of the responsibilities that her father had before her parents' divorce. Although Ava is angry at her mother leaving her by dying, she never expresses any anger about having had to be the caregiver rather than the child. Grace is able to understand just what Ava is going through to some extent as she had the responsibility of raising her younger brother while her mother worked and her father was just absent. All three ladies are looking for love and acceptance. Unfortunately Kelli was simply unable to provide the acceptance and validation she required. Heart Like Mine isn't a light read since it does deal with some heavy issues but it was a fast read. If you enjoy contemporary fiction and strong female characters, then you'll definitely want to add Heart Like Mine to your reading list.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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