Tuesday, March 19, 2013 Posted by Dina N
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.
Heart Like Mine is a moving and realistic novel about parenting and dealing with life's curve balls. The story is narrated from three standpoints: those of Grace, Ava, and Kelli. Grace is a woman who feels motherhood is not for her. Having to take care of her younger brother from an early age, she never wanted children of her own. When she meets Victor, a divorced father of two, she gradually comes to terms with the idea of part-time step-parenting. Then tragedy strikes - the children's mother dies suddenly - and Grace is reeling with the shock of having to take care of a teenager and a young boy while supporting her grieving fiance. She is neither emotionally nor intellectually prepared for any of it. Grace is not uncaring or self-centered - she is a loving person who has dedicated her professional life to helping battered women. Yet, she finds herself wondering if the strings attached to her relationship with Victor are becoming a deal breaker.
Ava is Victor's teenage daughter who, similarly to Grace, has had to grow up fast but for different reasons. After her parents split up, in a heartbreaking example of parent-child role reversal, Ava plays the grown-up in her mother's home. She is in charge of more adult tasks that her age warrants. She is still a child enough to hope that her parents will get back together and sees Grace as the interloper who stands in the way of her dream of happy family. When her mom dies, Ava has to deal somehow with her grief and anger, and Grace is an easy target to blame.
Unlike Grace, Kelli loves being a mom. Growing up with parents who are strict, judgmental and emotionally stilted, she tries to be their exact opposite as a mother. Yet, the scars of her childhood and adolescence prove impossible to heal, leading Kelli to depression and leaving her weak and unable to cope. Kelli's painful past hides secrets that ultimately destroy her. Looking for answers, Grace and Ava stumble upon fragments of those secrets until they uncover the sad truth about Kelli.
Heart like Mine is an emotionally charged story with complex and memorable characters. Now I have Amy Hatvany's other books on my to-read list - it is that good.
Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation was obtained for this post.