Andrea's Reviews > A Crowded Heart

A Crowded Heart by Andrea McKenzie Raine
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(Review from the author)
it was amazing
Read 2 times. Last read May 5, 2016.

Short Listed by Chanticleer Reviews

Kirkus Review (May 26, 2016) -- A soldier struggles to come to terms with the psychological impact of war in this historical novel.

5 stars -- Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

Willis Hancocks is not the type of person who can serenely embrace a mediocre lifestyle and his town seems too small for him. With big dreams and strung up with a firm determination to succeed, he joins the army at the outset of WWII, but the reality of war is fraught with cruelty and the ambitious young man has to find ways of pulling himself together before he falls apart with the world around him. A Crowded Heart is a symbolic title for an engaging story of a man with a lot of pain, love, and dreams, all cradled in his heart, and what it takes to dream big and to achieve those dreams. The question is: is Willis Hancock sculpted for the kind of success he dreams of?

Andrea McKenzie Raine has a rare gift for prose and plot, and she starts her story in the midst of action and an engaging dialogue between the protagonist and a nurse in a hospital. The characters are well developed and convincing enough - many readers will find Hancocks to be very interesting as he moves from one hardship to another, trying to give perspective to his life. A Crowded Heart can be read as a well-crafted philosophy of self-actualization, the tale of a man who dreams and dares to follow his dreams, but it’s the price he has to pay that will make some readers’ hearts weep.

Sprinkled throughout the text are streams of consciousness that will allow readers to connect with the protagonist and a war commentary that is interesting. The action is intense and it is fascinating to watch the protagonist as he develops meaningful friendships, falls in love, and gets to the point of almost losing it all. I enjoyed the ride. I love the philosophy behind the book and the prose is crisp and tight. This is a well-crafted story that will instruct, entertain, and remind readers of how far a dream can drive a man.

Star Rating: 5 / 5 -- Seattle Book Review

A Crowded Heart by Andrea McKenzie Raine is a dramatic look at the life a young man and how the choices he makes affect those around him. Willis Hancocks is a young man from Canada who feels that there is more out there for him to do and experience in the world. He joins the Canadian Army against the requests and wishes of his parents and heads off to Europe, leaving his family behind, praying for his return. While there, he is fortunate enough to escape injury. He makes a friend named Sam who becomes a rock for him throughout the war and, as the book goes on, throughout his life. During his R & R from the war, he meets some young ladies and ends up marrying Ellie. She is an art student at Cambridge who waits for Willis’ return from the war. However, the Willis that left London is not the one who returns later, as happened with many soldiers during this time. Willis has survived World War II, and now that he is home, he finds that perhaps the biggest battles he will fight are those that are locked deep within his memories of the war, in his marriage, and in coming to terms with the choices he made along the way.

A Crowded Heart, though set during the Second World War, is a book that many soldiers, military families, and even friends might relate to. Raine touches on the tough subject of the realities of war and that boys are sent to fight and return home from war men, sometimes haunted and damaged by the acts and images they witnessed while there. She eloquently tells a story of one man who could be anyone and of how the war he goes off to fight in follows him home and of the battles that ensue in various areas of what should be his normal life. A touching story with well written characters makes this a five-star novel that is moving, thought provoking, and so much more.

Reviewed by Amy Synoracki

Willis, a Canadian soldier during WWII, is smitten with Ellie while on leave. They are married too soon after the war is over, given the survivor’s guilt haunting Willis. Raine's novel is skillfully written, though some of the subplots tend to meander longer than needed. The characters are well crafted, and the most interesting and thought-provoking feature of the work is the transformation of Willis from a sympathetic character to one whose narcissism erases any regard readers may have felt for him. - 4.5 star review from Top Shelf magazine
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading (Kindle Edition)
November 5, 2015 – Shelved (Kindle Edition)
November 5, 2015 – Shelved as: published (Kindle Edition)
Started Reading
May 5, 2016 – Shelved
May 5, 2016 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by Paul (new)

Paul E. Morph Fantastic review, Andrea!

Andrea Thank you so much, Paul!

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