Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review: Heart of the Matter

By Melissa Amster

Imagine how the incidents of one night could change your world. That is what happens for both Tessa and Valerie, the two women whose lives are upended by a tragic accident in "Heart of the Matter," by Emily Giffin.

Tessa is a suburban housewife and stay-at-home mom, living in a neighborhood similar to Fairview (of "Desperate Housewives" fame) and trying to "keep up with the Jones'." Valerie is a single mom who wishes she could give her son the father he never met, but tries to give him the best life possible in the meantime. That is, until she lets him go to a sleepover party where a tragic disaster changes both their lives. Nick is Tessa's husband and the surgeon who helps Valerie's son, and then gets too involved.

I really liked this story, despite the heavy subject matter. (I even found myself tearing up when the accident happens, but that's my mom side coming out.) It was interesting how Ms. Giffin chose to write Tessa in the first person and Valerie in the third, but made them both easy to relate to. The dialogue was realistic and the descriptions made me feel like I was in the same room with these women. There's even a surprise visitor or two from one of her previous books, and they even got to stick around for more than a cameo appearance. I also like how her description of Tessa's neighborhood rivals Amber's neighborhood in "Swapping Lives" by Jane Green. Having been to neighborhoods similar to "Fairview" (or Wellesley, in this case), I know there's an element of truth involved.

The only thing I would have changed is that I would have given Nick his own voice, as well. It would be interesting to see what was really going on in his head the whole time, instead of wondering along with the women involved. In any case, I like the paths this story took and the risks that were taken with such a topic. I could tell that it was well researched on the medical end of things and have to wonder if there was psychological research going on too.

I definitely would recommend "Heart of the Matter" to fans of chick lit, as well as fans of a more dramatic story. I hope Ms. Giffin continues to produce such great work and look forward to seeing what she comes out with next year.


The Book Chick said...

Great review, Melissa!

I'm not sure if this is her plan for her next book, but she did mention at her book signing in Toronto as well as on Facebook that she may be writing a sequel to this one, this time from Valerie and Charlie's view. That would be interesting!!

Unknown said...

I enjoyed the book as well. I didn't recognize other characters, but it's been a long time between her books.

Marcie said...

I agree! She is by far my favorite author!!

xo Marcie

SweetMelissa said...

Now I HAVE to read it! It sounds so good. Great Review Melissa! Thanks!