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.
Amy Hatvany was born in Seattle, WA in 1972, the youngest of three children. She graduated from Western Washington University in 1994 with a degree in Sociology only to discover most sociologists are unemployed. Soon followed a variety of jobs – some of which she loved, like decorating wedding cakes; others which she merely tolerated, like receptionist. In 1998, Amy finally decided to sell her car, quit her job, and take a chance on writing books.
The literary gods took kindly to her aspirations and THE KIND OF LOVE THAT SAVES YOU was published in 2000 by Bantam Doubleday. THE LANGUAGE OF SISTERS was picked up by NAL in 2002. (Both titles published under "Yurk.")
Amy spends most of her time today with her second and final husband, Stephan. (Seriously, if this one doesn’t work out, she’s done.) She stays busy with her two children, Scarlett and Miles, and her “bonus child,” Anna. Their blended family also includes two four-legged hairy children, commonly known as Black Lab mutts, Kenda and Dolcé. When Amy’s not with friends or family, she is most likely reading, cooking or zoning out on certain reality television shows. Top Chef is a current favorite. She eagerly awaits auditions for the cast of “Top Author.” (“Quick Edit” instead of “Quick Fire” Challenge? C’mon, producers! That’s gripping television!)
Truth be told I wasn't sure I even wanted to read Amy Hatvany's Heart Like Mine. I had nothing against the author or her work, I just wasn't entirely convinced I was ready to take something like this on. You see I've spent the better part of three decades as a member of a blended family, though I can't say my situation bears much resemblance to the Hansens. Now I know I shouldn't be making a review about me, but it would be impossible to understand where I'm coming from without this background information. That being said I promise, the rest of this review is about the book.
The thing that struck me most about this piece was how realistic Hatvany was in her narrative. Ava's divided loyalties, Kellie's natural curiosity about the woman in her ex-husband's life, Victor's difficulty balancing his personal relationships as well as Grace's feelings of inadequacy, frustration and deep-seated desire for acceptance; anyone who has been a part of a blended family recognizes these hallmarks. Hatvany's ability to convey these complicated emotions without coming off melodramatic speaks not only to her gift for storytelling, but also her understanding of how difficult and complex these situations can be for everyone involved.
Another thing I want to highlight is Hatvany's refusal to make anyone "the bitch" in her story. Kellie and Grace are both people. Nothing more, nothing less. Both sympathetic, both flawed, both struggling. They aren't friends, but neither are they enemies. There is a natural tendency to take sides, to perpetuate the stereotypes and I get that, but it doesn't make it healthy or right. We need more stories like this. Stories about people, regular people who are trying to do their best in a situation in which there is no guidebook.
Yes, the situation presented by Kellie's death and the revelations about her past create a unique twist and I do not mean to disregard it, but I really feel it takes a secondary role to the concept of family that is presented within these pages. The need for communication, patience, perspective and most of all, respect in all situations. It is a valuable message, one I am happy to have discovered in a work of fiction.
**First of all I would like to say this was an uncorrected ARC via Netgalley, Heart Like Mine comes out March 19th, 2013.**
Nobody is perfect, we all have our stories to tell, some are more tragic then the others. Things happen, it can break you or make you stronger. Time doesn't make the hurt go away, doesn't make you forget, it's these moments that decide how you are going to live.
Heart Like Mine is told from the pov of Grace and Ava. With Kelli's story being told weaved in between. Amy Hatvany has written such an emotional story, the reader will have no trouble connecting to at least one of the characters. Grace a women who never wanted to be a mom, Ava a young girl who's is forced to grow up way too fast, and Kelli who just wanted to be loved and motherhood is all she has.
I have to be honest, I know I'm probably in the minority when I say this but didn't really like Grace when this book started, actually I didn't really like her through out most of the story. When she did start to grow on me she would just take two steps back and I would go back to not liking her. I couldn't connect with her character, she seemed selfish at times. Even though the thoughts she has are probably normal ones for someone going through everything that had happened. Nearing the end and also when I sat and thought back over it all, I think I could finally say, 'okay she's not that bad.'
Ava has been through so much at such a young age, having help her emotional mother (Kelli) with her little brother Max and other things around the house, like paying the bills. Her parents divorce and her fathers girlfriend, Grace. And now facing her mothers death and wondering if she really knew her at all. I think I could connect with her a little more, I found her actions to be understandable, she's a thirteen year old who's whole world has been turned upside down and ripped apart.
Kelli, your story ended much too soon, my heart broke for you.
The ending for me is the main thing about this book I didn't like. I wanted more of Kelli's story, I wanted to see it played out to the end. It felt rushed and just tossed in to be finished and done with. So now I'm left with unanswered questions.
So many emotions surged through me while reading this book. The amount of times I cried, I wouldn't be able to tell you. My heart broke over and over again for Kelli, for Ava and Max, for them all. Then at other times I felt pure hate, this hate directed at Kelli's parents. All I can say is, I hate you.
Amy Hatvany specializes in domestic dramas and, as usual, did not disappoint this time.
Grace and Victor just became engaged when Victor’s ex-wife, Kelli, suddenly dies. Now Grace, who never wanted children, has to be a full-time stepmother to Victor’s two children: Ava, age 13 and Max, age 7. This newly formed family has to figure out how to live together while coping with the emotional aftermath of Kelli’s death.
The story is told from three POVs: Grace, Ava and Kelli, in alternating chapters. Grace isn’t sure she is up to the task of mothering these two children; Ava is mourning the death of her mother and resenting Grace’s presence in her life; and we learn about Kelli’s life before she married Victor and how her past impacted her marriage. Everyone is beautifully and sympathetically portrayed and your heart just breaks for each of them, even Victor, who we only know through these characters and who is struggling to be a good father and partner.
As usual with Amy Hatvany’s books, once I started reading it, I couldn’t stop. The writing is good and although there are no real surprises in the book, you just get sucked into the story. My only quibble would be those stupid swirly backwards question marks. As always, I find them very distracting. Who picked that font anyway? Anyway, this book is a definite recommend.
Wow! Amy Hatvany has just been added to my favorite author list! I love her writing style and cannot wait to start on her other books (I have ordered them all) and will pre-order her new one “Safe with Me – coming 2014 included as a sneak peak at the end of Heart Like Mine (already has me hooked).
I am so thankful you wrote this book – I could so relate with Grace, as I was in the stepmother role (and it is not an easy task) – it makes you want to run back to your independent life without all the drama. I had two sons of my own and met a man with 3 sons – his all had dyslexia (all five boys from age 7-15) – boy, do you have to be thick-skinned – there is always some sort of fighting, manipulating, other mother involved, power struggles, etc…and then to find they all want to come and live with you – it can be very overwhelming at times. It means a lot to have the husband’s support, sometimes Victor was not supporting Grace (so admire her for hanging in there).
Both Grace and Kelli had similar backgrounds and was unable to live their childhood/teen years as a normal teen; however, Kelli and Grace turned out differently. Kelli was very weak and needy and looked to others to provide her happiness instead of creating her own.
Amy does an outstanding job of speaking from Ava, Kelli, and Grace’s perspective and voice-- loved how she seamlessly tied it all together. It was brilliantly written (wish list) – Would love to see a sequel in tracking down Kelli’s child, the new relationship between sisters and brothers, and possibly Grace/Victor with a child of their own, and more from Spencer/Melody – (this could fill at least another two books). Hey, I would buy them!
Highly recommend this book and so look forward to reading more from this author. Her insight into the pitfalls of step-parenting is so realistic, as I speak from experience.
I tend to read the new ones first which hooks me on the author, and then I want to dive into everything they have written. Have read so many great reviews about Amy and lots of praise from my other favorite authors about her work. Great reading!! She speaks to the heart and does not miss a beat.
If you hover over the second star in the ratings system, it says "it was ok." That pretty much sums up my feelings on this one. It was ok -- not bad -- but I didn't find myself truly enjoying it.
Grace is a thirtysomething nonprofit director who has chosen to focus on her career instead of pursuing marriage and motherhood. Things change when she meets a divorced restaurateur named Victor. She falls for him, but isn't quite sure how his two children, Max and Ava, will fit into her life plan. When the kids' mother, Kelli, dies suddenly and unexpectedly, Grace finds herself in a role she never envisioned for herself: full-time stepmother.
The book is told from a rotating POV, as Grace and Ava share narrative duties with an omniscient narrator giving insight into Kelli's troubled past. The writing was fine, but the characters never rose above a single dimension for me and I found Ava's voice to be pretty inauthentic. The marketing copy describes her as mature beyond her thirteen years, but I didn't get that from the book itself as her actions were often childish. I felt like Hatvany didn't get that a mature adolescent's voice is still not going to sound like an adult voice.
Still, it raised some interesting questions and ended up a little less schmaltzy than I feared after the first 100 pages.
This is the second book I've read by this author and have been extremely pleased by her writing. I enjoyed the story, loved the way she got into the characters' heads, and the development of each character and the story. Hatvany writes about difficult situations and brings the complex questions to light without dismissing any of them with trite answers or shallow characterizations.
In this book, Grace is engaged to Victor, a divorced father of two children. His ex-wife is Kellie, a thin, beautiful, but clearly insecure woman who suddenly dies in her bed after getting the children off to school. Grace never planned on becoming a mother. She was secure with her relationship with Victor but always knew that Kellie would be the children's mother. The title comes from Grace's thoughts and insecurities of taking on the maternal role in her soon-to-be husband's children's life. Can she be a mother figure with a heart like hers?
Grace did not come easily to the decision to not have children. There is a history and a childhood that negated mothering for her in adulthood. She mothered her baby brother due to circumstances out of her control. She went to college, built a successful career doing work with battered women to restore their integrity and independence, and she's perfectly happy doing life with a career and a husband.
The questions are slowly hashed out. How did Kellie die? Why was Kellie so unhappy? What was her secret? Why was she without family? How will Grace handle having the children full time? How will the children handle their grief? What secrets are keeping Kellie captive even in her death? There are many more but these are the elements closest to my recall. The book is told in three voices; Grace, Kellie, and Ava, Kellie's and Victor's 14 year old daughter. I found the choice of voices to be very balancing as they would each of very different preconceptions.
It would have been easy to write Ava as a cliche teenager. Yes, there is a little bit of screaming, "You're not my mom!" but that is to be expected. Ava is surprisingly complex. She isn't always resentful of Grace and Grace's presence. She also realizes she has other feelings than grief and resentment for Grace. I found her character to be the most enlightening, actually. A teenage girl is very complex. Especially one teetering on the edge of so many brinks. It takes a lot of talent to tackle Ava and keep her cohesive yet deep.
Grace might have been an easy characterization, too. Suddenly, the life she planned with Victor is not what she hoped. She tackles the many stumbling blocks many mothers run into throughout their lives with the added element of the fact that she and Victor are not even married, yet. How does a woman step into a step parental role? Especially one who didn't plan on doing so? How does a mother balance and/or fit her career in a life with children? When and how do a couple find time and energy to connect? How does a parent (or fiance of a single parent) handle the splitting done by a child (using one against the other)? It is not as exhausting as it sounds. I mean the book. Not real life. The author does an excellent job of representing this aspect.
Last we have Kellie. She is a complete mystery in the beginning. There is a question of possible suicide which is eventually resolved. Again, Kellie's character could have been easily written by sticking to previous scripts written about ex-wives who undermine their ex-husband's lives. This is not the case. Kellie is the most complex of all; growing up in a religious home with older parents who are unforgiving, sinning and being estranged, compensating and reinventing herself. Kellie creates a home for her children that, to their detriment or growth, is representative of what she craved as a child from her parents.
My opinion: I must admit that I became a huge fan of Amy Hatvany after reading her powerful novel Best Kept Secrets. Ms. Hatvany has a real talent for getting into the minds of her characters and offering her readers a voyeuristic view into their challenges and pains. This is clearly evident in Heart Like Mine. On that note, I must state that her story paths are pretty clear. Don't be expecting mysteries or gotchya moments. Do be expecting gut wrenching incidents or choices that lead to the characters growth or their demise. I have yet to walk away from the last three novels from Ms. Hatvany where I haven't been holding my breath or been deeply invested in the main character.
This book is told in first person point of view from 3 different characters which I tended to find annoying, but I was able to get through it with paying very close attention to who was "speaking".
On a side note, I have seen Ms. Hatvany compared to several contemporary women's fiction writers, particularly one in particular that irks me every time I see it. I find this to be incredibly unfair to Ms. Hatvany. Not a single one of her books is formulaic in its' presentation nor has she come in with any sort of agenda in writing them.
Heart Like Mine is an emotional hill and valley tale. The differences in generations of family and their approach to demonstrating love leads to betrayal, shame and injured pride. This heart wrenching tale showcases the effects of wanting to be loved, wanting acceptance and the pitfalls that dysfunctional families unknowingly put on each other. With children acting the roles of adults and vice versa, a teenage secret continues to haunt this family from one fateful night beginning the betrayal. Tough love, looking for love in the wrong places, unconditional love, lasting love , abusive love are all touched in the theme of this story mixed into a combination of fear, dis inheritance, emotional baggage, divorce and self doubt. A cocktail waiting to knock the characters to their knees. In the end the secret is revealed leading to a modicum of understanding. The reader is left with the promise that a search for a reconciliation might happen as a family comes together, healing from the grieving process of loss of different degrees. Heart Like Mine is a study on familial love and all that it encompasses.
This was very good. I liked the way the story unfolded from the perspective of the three females - Ava, Kelli and Grace. From Kelli’s point of view, we learn about her growing up years, her search for love and acceptance in all the wrong places, and a fateful decision made by her parents that would ultimately devastate her. From Ava, we get to see the struggles of a young girl who tries to be an adult for her struggling Mom and her battle with trying to decide if she should like Grace or not. And finally, from Grace, we see her work through the issues of having being a career woman who falls in love with a man who suddenly has full time responsibility for his children.
Ms. Hatvany did an outstanding job of weaving all these different viewpoints together into a nicely told tale. This is a new author for me and I will definitely be checking out her other books.
I thank Washington Square Press and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.
This was the first book by author, Amy Hatvany, that I read. I was immediately taken in my the characters and found myself not wanting to put the book down. Such an enjoyable read that I am now beginning to read another book by the same author.
Heart Like Mine is Amy Hatvany doing what she does best ... giving heartfelt insight into very real family issues and dynamics; you know these people, you really do.
Knowing the pain of uncovered secrets after my own mother's death and as a part-time 'stepmother' to an 11 year old I can honestly say Amy writes with a clarity and depth of understanding that makes your heart hurt but also lift.
Grace is engaged to Victor, divorced father of two children, Ava and Max. 13 year old Ava has for years shouldered the burden of her mother, Kelli's emotional instability. It's through Grace and Ava's eyes and flashbacks to Kelli's troubled past that we view a family turned inside out by grief, shifting loyalties and altered expectations. Heart Like Mine cuts to the emotional heart of family bonds, sharing the joys, trials and tears of parenthood, divorce and death with honesty and compassion.
For me, Heart Like Mine wasn't quite as strong as Best Kept Secret or Outside the Lines but it's still all sorts of wonderful. Amy's books are on my auto-buy list and I can't wait to live whatever she writes next.
It seems like every time I pick up one of Amy's books, I am reluctant to put it down without finishing, and there are few books I can say this about. I think this is due to a magical combination of readability (though certainly not sacrificing complexity of character) and Amy's tremendous empathy for the people who live within her pages.
Grace has never wanted children. But when she meets Victor (who has two children of his own), she reluctantly accepts the position of part-time step-mother. However, when Victor's ex dies suddenly and mysteriously, she is thrust into the very role she never wanted to fill.
The novel is told in alternating chapters between Grace, Ava (Victor's 13 year old daughter), and Kelli (the ex). There's a nice mystery at the heart of the story which keeps the pages turning. I found myself sympathetic to all three characters due to the sensitivity with which they were treated by their author.
Really looking forward to her next one as well (there's a sneak peek at the back of this book).
Quick and easy read - the plot moves along from the beginning, as told from the voices of the three female leads in the story: Grace, newly engaged to her fiance Victor; Ava, Victor's daughter from his first marriage; and Kelli, Victor's ex-wife.
Although I do think the author presents some very realistic portrayals of close female friendships, the challenges of being a divorced and/or blended family, and the ways we try not to turn into our parents as adults, I was not in love with her writing style. In the parts of the book where she does manage to "show not tell," the emotional resonance was far stronger.
I won my copy of Heart Like Mine from Goodreads.com, and it's a brilliant, realistic story that touches the lives of so many people. An emotional, heartfelt book full of depth and understanding that should be read by everyone. Amy Hatvany is a brilliant storyteller, and I look forward to reading more of her future books.
Eines meiner neuen Lieblingsbücher - mal nicht eins von den fröhlichen Büchern, sondern ein Roman mit Tiefgang. Eine Geschichte über Verlust, Trauer, neuen Familienkonstellationen und Geheimnissen, auch aus der Vergangenheit.
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 :
Heart Like Mine, such a simple title, yet...who's heart is like mine? Ava's, the grieving and angry teen? Grace's, the instant "mom", almost wife and struggling career driven woman? Or Kelli's, relating to her daughter's, her hard nosed mother, or her daughter's soon to be step-mom? I started this book thinking I'd have a clear answer when I finished. You know what? It really doesn't matter who the title references. I'm one of those readers who likes to find the truth behind the title. And while my truth may be different from the truth you find? They're both truthful, and both right.
Hatvany has created such real people! I know we often hear and read things like that, but I really mean "real". No matter what character is speaking, you know them! They are in your world. I think one of the hardest things for an author, is to accurately speak for different ages and to have it be honest, and most importantly, believable. One of the most honest scenes for me was between Grace and Victor, (her fiance and Ava's dad). They are discussing the incredibility of Kelli's parents not wanting to have anything to do with their daughter and grandchildren. OK, that's a pretty strange thing on its own, but the scene quickly turns to Grace being hurt because her fiance was remembering what traits he liked in his ex-wife, Kelli. Smartly, Hatvany quickly gave Grace the humility and love to realize that Victor, at one time, loved his ex, just as he loves HER now. That Victor is human.
Hatvany's Heart Like Mine is scattered FULL of these quiet moments, where the characters are clearly defined, where she wants you to feel for each of them, and when you do? You struggle with the events of this story even more. You're pulled in the direction of the three women, and also pulled by the two main guys, Victor, and his son the adorable, Max.
Hatvany has made the women the focus and also the characters who hold and also solve the mysteries. We don't get too much from the males, Victor, Max or Kelli's father. While Victor and Max figure in the stories, we hear little from them, but what little we hear is powerful. Kelli's distant father is around, but her mother's is the voice that we, as readers, have the most interaction with.
For me, the author wrote a fast paced and engaging book, you wanted to read faster to keep the pages turning. Her dialogue for all of the characters is spot on and the voices clear in your head as you read. You quickly get to know these people and have no problem at all keeping up with the story, as Hatvany's superb story telling propels you forward.
I won't give you too much more, as I don't want to spoil the ride that the author gives you.
I give this 4 out of 5 stars, I really enjoyed Heart Like Mine, and recommend it highly. My only little quibble, so to speak, is that it all wrapped up pretty quickly. The ending is believable and satisfying, but it happened oh-so-fast! Now, if that's the only complaint I have? This is one fine book!!
Heart Like Mine is in stores and for sale online today!
**This e-galley was provided to me, in exchange for an honest review, by the publisher through NetGalley.
I highly recommend you pick up a copy of your own. This was a deeply moving story about a father, his children and his fiancee, dealing with the fallout of the mother's death and the secrets she's kept hidden most of her life.
Amy Hatvany paints a realistic picture of a broken family, a father's new life and the chasms between his children and his fiancee, that opens even wider when the mother dies under mysterious circumstances. The teenage daughter Ava, one of the narrators of this book, struggles with her mother's loss and questions of loyalty, as well as the fact that her mother has been leaning on her more than is healthy for a mother-daughter relationship. Grace, the fiancee and other narrator in this book, has to suddenly deal with two children she never expected to live with her and Victor permanently, the hostility from Ava, the sudden responsibilities that come with filling the mother role and her growing resentment for Victor who wants Grace to fill the mother role, but doesn't give her the benefit of standing with her when issues arise.
The dichotomy between Grace and Ava is fully apparent from the start. Ava is a typical teenager - immature, reckless and unwilling to seek advice from her parental figures, torn between wanting to like Grace but also feeling that she shouldn't because of how her mother talked about Grace.
Grace, as the adult, is more rational yet also seemingly detached and unprepared for two children needing round the clock care and comfort, never having expected or actually wanted them to live with her and Victor full time.
Victor is stuck in the middle, of sorts, caught between wanting to help his daughter and appeasing his fiancee, and thus bungles both.
I'm a stepmother myself. This book reminded me of my own struggles. The actions and reactions of the characters were fully comprehensible, and I was able to draw parallels to my own experiences, conflicts and doubts.
Amy Hatvany covers some very sensitive topics in this novel, beyond the apparent. Kellie, the mother, has her own story, and she gets a voice in these pages as well, recounting parts of her history and the events leading up to her death. When her secrets are unraveled and revealed, they serve as a catalyst for Ava and Grace to find common ground and an improved relationship, well on the way to healing for this newly formed family.
The author created three distinct voices in this novel and it was never difficult to ascertain who was talking at any given time. The writing is not overly descriptive, yet draws the reader in from the start with precision and skill.
I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy realistic family-centered novels about real life and loss.
I received a free ARC from the publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return.
Amy Hatvany's Heart Like Mine is a moving novel of grief, love and family. When Grace fell in love with Victor she was relieved to learn he didn't want any more children, content with the fortnightly weekend care arrangement of his children from his previous marriage. But when his ex wife, Kelli, dies suddenly, Grace is forced to make room for his shattered thirteen year old daughter, Ava, and seven year old son, Max in their lives.
Heart Like Mine unfolds through the perspectives of Grace and Ava, with flashbacks into Kelli's troubled past. I feel the author's strength lies in her honest portrayal of her characters. They are sympathetic as they struggle with realistic internal conflicts and attempt to cope with their confusion and pain.
Grace desperately wants to support Victor and his children in their grief but is unsure of what her role is in the new family dynamic. She is wary of Ava's hostility, even though she understands the girl's behaviour and is prepared to make allowances, but it feeds into her own insecurities, especially when Victor fails to back her up. I think Hatvany handled Grace's conflicting emotions particularly well as a woman who had no desire to become a mother thrust unexpectedly into the role of caring for two grieving children.
Ava is shattered by her mother's death, having essentially become responsible for her mother's emotional well being for the three years since her dad left, she feels guilty that she couldn't save her mother. Hatvany captures Ava's pain and confusion beautifully, her impulsive bursts of hostility and poor judgement are believable as the teen struggles to cope with her loss. Ava's curiosity about her mother's hidden past is a way to connect with her now she is gone.
It's difficult to dislike Kelli, despite her weaknesses, when the secret she has kept hidden is revealed through alternating chapters. I could only find pity for a damaged woman that never really grew up and was unable to overcome early tragedy.
Hatvany explores the pain of loss and the difficulty of change as the family adjusts to Kelli's death and their new situation. While I think the author deals with the complex emotions of the characters the novel well, I didn't feel the plot was predictable and the story failed to offer any unique insight.
I think Outside the Lines was a stronger book but Heart Like Mine is a heartfelt, poignant story that is a quick, engaging read.
Grace has had bad luck when it came to dating men. It seems however that her luck changed when she met Victor. Victor is a gentleman. Grace is falling hard for Victor. So much that she is willing to consider settling down with him and becoming a step mom to his two children, Max and Ava. Luckily for Grace Max and Ava live with their mother, Kelli.
Grace’s world gets turned upside down when Kelli unexpectedly dies. Now Grace must quickly step up and learn to be mom.
I have never read any books by this author. However, after reading this book I would put Amy up there with Jodi Picoult. Heart Like Mine is a most definite must read book!
I liked the back and forth voices of the three women involved in this book. I was able to step into each of their shoes and see and feel what they were feeling and experiencing. If I had to pick a favorite I would not be able to as I could relate to all of them.
I read the questions in the back of the book for discussion there was one question that I found interesting and that was “Heart Like Mine is narrated by the three women in Victor’s life-but we never hear from him directly. As a group, discuss your impressions of Victor. How does each narrator present a different side of him?”
So I will attempt to answer this question. In regards to Victor and him not really having a voice in this book, I thought that he was a kind guy that really loved his family. This is saying something when an author can still draw me the reader into a character that may be secondary in the story and has little interaction throughout the book. To answer the second part of the question about how does each narrator present a different side of Victor, I found that his daughter, Ava loved her father but felt he did not really understand her and what she was going through with the loss of her mother. He could not really cope with the stress.
Grace on the other hand portrayed Victor as the man she loved but wished he would let her be more of his equal. She kind of got brushed aside in the beginning when Victor was dealing with his children and did not lean on Grace for support.
Kelli portrayed Victor as her escape from her past life. He was her protector. Her perfect life that she had made up and worked so hard for all came crashing down when they divorced.
I read this blurb and KNEW I had to read this! "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?"...Okay, how many of you are shaking your heads at that thought???? Told between the POVs of Ava and Grace, one sees how much these two actually have in common, regardless of their differences on the outside.
Grace truly was clueless as to the requirements of being a new addition to the splintered Hansen family. When Kelli died suddenly, even though she was an unstable parent, almost more of a child, Grace is forced to step up and try to carefully field her way through the emotional landmines all around her. Her biggest obstacle to overcome was thirteen year old Ava who is caught up in the grief of losing her mother, the hormones of growing up, and a need to know about her mother's dark past and find out why her mother had lied to her about so many things.
Victor was a good father, just too consumed with his business and seemed to dump so much more than Grace bargained for onto her shoulders.
As Grace tried to reach out to Ava, Ava pulled farther away, resenting the fact that Grace was alive and her mother wasn't. What will happen when Kelli's true past finally unfolds? Can Grace and Victor's relationship survive? Can Grace breach Ava's barriers?
This is an amazing story, well-told and filled with emotion and depth. By taking a contemporary issue such as divorce and its aftermath, exploding into the death of a parent and the secrets they leave behind, the author has created a book that will stay with me for a long time! I highly recommend this book!
This ARC copy was provided by NetGalley and Washington Square Press in exchange for my honest review. Publication date: March 19, 2013
I had received an advance copy of this book through the GoodReads Giveaway.
I felt that I was not the target audience for this novel. I believe that this was novel would be enjoyed more by women. Having said that, I believe this book can be enjoyed by all people.
This a modern story or marriage, divorce, step parents and extended family. That is something most people can relate to. In most cases, everyone has some time to adjust. In this story, the family is thrust together because of the death of the ex-wife before they have time to adjust to the presence of Dad's new girlfriend. The story is told through three women. It has the viewpoints of the daughter nad future step-mom with flashbacks to the life . Telling the story through different viewpoints is nothing new, but I did like the flashbacks to the dead mother's life to help explain what was going on.
I liked the book. The story was new take on the extended family. I felt the characters were well developed. The backstories on each of them were well developed to explain their presence in the story. The story made you feel sympathy, anger and amusement with each of their actions. The got me emotionally involved in the story. I did feel the ending wher they all came together was a little sappy, because a coming together like this could take years and it was done in months. Thre were times I would have liked to have heard the father's point of view as to what was going on, but I know that was not the point. His opinion was important to the three main females telling the story.
I enjoyed the novel. This is the first time I read this authour. She showed herself to be a masterful storyteller. She kept me enthralled to the end. I would recommend this boo.
Grace – perfectly happy in her work helping women who are victims of violence – is newly engaged and blissfully happy with Victor, a divorced restauranteur. Victor has two children – youngster Max and teenage Ami – but they live with their mother Kelli, and Grace is pleased she won’t need to be any more than a part-time stepmother. But then Kelli dies suddenly, and the lives of those who remain are turned upside down. And it turns out that there was a lot in Kelli’s early life that they didn’t know about that had a big influence on how her life turned out.
This was a very well-told story, told through three narrators – Grace whose life has taken a very unexpected turn, Amy, a very authentic troubled teen who has been carrying a load with her mum for some time, and Kelli herself, looking back at her life. I thought it was a really excellent look at family grief, the difficulties of taking on another woman’s family and how children can impact a relationship. Kelli’s story is harrowing, and it gives another perspective on family relationships and how they can affect your life. Some of the subsidiary characters were very well drawn too – Grace’s secretary, Melody the friend (and we should all have someone like her) and young Max who leaps off the page as a very real and endearing child.
This is my first book by Amy Hatvany, and I’ll certainly be reading more. An easy read in all but the subject matter, the slow reveal of the events that shaped Kelli’s life kept your interest throughout, and despite the subject matter it never becomes a depressing read, hope and love win through.
Thank you to netgalley for making this ebook ARC available for review. Publication date in the UK is March 19th.
Amy Hatvany is one of the best of the contemporary women writers of today, in my humble opinion. She knows how to translate women's issues and to bring them to the forefront through believable and endearing characters, both female and male...and those of all ages. She is a chronicler of our times, I think, in her assessment of what goes on in the contemporary family and in the minds of those mothers who are dealing with them. She has her hand on the pulse of women in crises and she can tell you about them so that you feel their angst and their push-pull of emotions.
My sympathies were torn in this book between the main female characters. Grace, the young woman who really didn't want to be a mother but was thrust into a situation where she had to choose to be one or not to the children of the man she loved. A tough decision no matter how you look at it! And, Kelli, the natural mother of the children in question, who died and left them to their father. Both of these women, the children and their father seemed so real in Hatvany's hands! I thought about them in the hours when I wasn't reading...
If, as so many authors believe, characterization is the thing that makes a book great, "Heart Like Mine" is a great book!
It is a gripping novel from the first sentences and it holds on 'til the last. This is one you won't soon forget, with women you'll be thinking about for days after you put the book down. A perfect book for book group reading!
Amy Hatvany has managed to write a story that deals with being a mother, being a daughter, grief, separation, the bonds of family, and the tragedy of having those bonds broken from the perspective of three very different narrators - and I believed in all of it.
Ava, Grace, and Kelli are all likeable, sympathetic characters whose emotions and streams of consciousness are very relatable, even when their circumstances may not be. I find Hatvany to be very unique in her ability to articulate the story of a woman who never wanted to be a mother, a woman for whom motherhood was the only thing she had faith in, and a thirteen year-old girl caught between the two amidst perhaps the worst experience of her life.
The only thing I didn't like about this book was the ending. I really wanted the rest of Kelli's story to play out. I wanted answers from her parents, REAL answers, and I wanted to know the rest of Rebecca's story. In the beginning of the acknowledgments section, the author says "I might not have finished this one without the support of several amazing people" and when I read this, I was not surprised at all. It seemed to me as though she didn't WANT to end it, and therefore rushed the conclusion.
Still, this book was worth every second spent reading it. A great choice for fans of Kristin Hannah, Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Weiner, and Emily Giffin.
I really enjoyed reading this story about Grace and the difficulties she faces when her fiance's ex-wife Kelli dies leaving her in the unexpected role of parent. Hatvany does a good job with Grace's character and shows the reader her strengths and her insecurities. It is an emotional story filled with tension as this family tries to recover from such a devastating loss.
Along with the death of Kelli there is the mystery of what happened to Kelli to leave her so scarred and unhappy through most of her life. We get the details in clues that Grace and Kelli's daughter Ava find and also in chapters that go back into the pain of Kelli's life. Of all the characters I felt for Kelli the most. At the beginning of the book there is a scene that takes place before Kelli's death. She is at her son's soccer game and just tries to make pleasant conversation with the other mothers and she is totally shut out by them. That scene was so heartbreaking and really gave a look into the pain that Kelli was going through, she was just constantly looking for love and acceptance and could not find it.
This book deals with grief, loss, guilt, and family in a compassionate way and I would recommend this book to any reader of women's literature. It is a well written and moving book.
This book is very emotional. Amy Hatvany did an excellent job putting on paper what was going on psychologically with her characters. This helped me to connect with the three female characters.
I enjoyed the smooth casual way the words flowed. It was a fast read that I enjoyed. The language was genuine & not forced. Be prepared. Your emotions with be on a roller coaster while reading this book. I was still thinking about it after I finished reading the book. I started it & couldn't stop until I finished it. I believe everyone has a story to tell. Everyone has their personal stuff they have to handle. I have my stuff, you have your stuff. It is how we handle this stuff that defines us and our lives. We can be positive or negative. We can make good choices or poor choices. These things are what create our personal story. Some of us prefer to tell our stories verbally, some prefer to write their tale and some never disclose their personal story. They keep it hidden inside for various reasons. This is this book in a nutshell. Life isn't predictable. Just roll with it people. SO read this book knowing each character has their personal stuff and a story to tell. And never assume you know someone's entire story because you do not.
A woman who thought she never wanted children suddenly finds herself being a full time parent to her fiances children when their mother suddenly passes away. The story is just as much about Victor as it is Grace. When their world is rocked by Victor's ex-wifes sudden passing many questions are left behind. What happened? Did she kill herself? Why? Throughout the story you start to see how much Kelli depended on her children after the divorce. You also see how fragile her mental state was. Kelli was always fragile based on her upbringing with elderly christian parents whom is is estranged from. The story is gripping and very well written. You will be drawn in from the first chapter. Though the story is told by the women of Victors life you get a good sense of who he is and it flows seamlessly.
I won this as a free book and I recieved it today. I was hooked by the first page and found myself relating to almost all the characters. As a woman not wanting children and then being in a relationship with a man who has a full time daughter- the confliction and doubts one feels. Ava and Max's mother is found dead and it begins to unravel that she had a "secret" past- her parents basically disowned her over it. All in all it was a very easy read - the father seemed to be absent most of the time. It was well written and interesting.It ended kind of like a brady bunch show- happy ending, apologies...but it was a good book that I will recommend to others.- I also got my boyfriend to read it because I said it reminded me so much of me and he really enjoyed it as well.