Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Heart Like Mine

Heart Like Mine by Amy Hatvany
Washington Square Press, 3/19/2013
Paperback, 384 pages
ISBN-13: 9781451640564

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 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 that 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, hopeful portrait of womanhood, love, and the challenges and joys of family life.

My Thoughts:

Heart Like Mine by Amy Hatvany follows the lives of three women: Grace McAllister, Ava and Kelli Hansen. Grace is newly engaged to Victor Hansen, divorced father to Ava (and her brother Max) and ex-husband of Kelli. Grace doesn't want children, but finds that after falling in love with Victor that she might be willing to try being a part-time stepparent to his children. Suddenly Victor's ex-wife, Kelli, dies and he and Grace now have full-time responsibility of his two children.
This novel is told through the three different voices of Grace, Kelli, and Ava. Kelli's passages are looking back at her life and answering the questions everyone has about her life. Grace and Ava are both dealing with this new relationship and struggling to determine what their relationship to each other will be - or if they even want one.
I appreciated the three different point of views Hatvany uses to tell the story. She gives the reader real insight into what her characters are thinking and why. Even when you want to tell them that they are making a bad decision or to at least reconsider that choice, it all comes across as very real. This made the book extremely readable. The fact that I was rooting for Grace and talking back to her (in my mind) tells you that I was invested in this novel and her character. I didn't like Victor at all, by the way.
However, there were a few places where the story seemed to lag a bit or the character's choices just didn't make sense to me. My main "What's up with that?" question came when Grace took time off work and seemingly set her career aside way-to-easily to take over picking kids up from school and doing the job of a parent. And Victor expected her to. Hello? They weren't married, and perhaps, just maybe, Grace needed to step back, move out of Victor's place, and let Victor learn to be a single parent rather than allowing him to shoehorn her into ex-wife Kelli's role. Okay, that assumption, that Grace would just suddenly be happy to be a mother and take time off from her job, just seemed too pat and dry for me.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Washington Square Press via Netgalley for review purposes.
No quotes as I had an advanced reading copy.

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