Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Book Review & Giveaway: Heart Like Mine

***Giveaway is now closed***

By Amy Bromberg

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 step-mom. 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. (Summary courtesy of Amazon)

I’ve been dying to read Heart Like Mine since the minute I discovered it was coming out. Right away, I contacted Amy and Atria Books to say I MUST read this! Heart Like Mine alternates between the voices of Grace and Ava, with flashbacks into Kelli’s past. I'll admit that when I first read the synopsis, it made me think of Stepmom, the movie with Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon. However, this book was different in many ways.

Due to circumstances, more or less, Grace raised her baby brother all on her own. I can’t imagine how tiring this must have been for a young girl. She barely had the chance to experience childhood and do all the things children are supposed to do. Grace went on to college and built a successful career for herself. She’s fairly content with her life being focused on her career. This all of a sudden changes when Victor’s ex-wife, Kelli, passes away. The thought of being a step-parent to Ava and Max terrifies her. Does she have what it takes, the mother instinct, to be there for these two children?

Ever since Ava’s parents split, she has been taking care of her mother the way a mother should be taking care of a child. As the days go by, after Kelli and Victor’s divorce, Kelli keeps sinking deeper into despair, and Ava continually has to soothe her. She even ends up helping her mom pay the bills. Ava keeps telling herself she has to stay strong because this is her mama and she loves her so much. Of course, deep down inside, there’s this wish that maybe her parents will get back together. Talk about something taking a toll on a child. I can’t imagine having to take on the role of a parent at twelve years old.

Ava and Grace have a huge thing in common. Both have to take on “adult” responsibilities at such a young age.

I wish we were able to learn a little more about Kelli. But since she dies at the beginning, there’s only so much Amy can share about her.

I can’t imagine losing a parent, especially at such a young age. My heart was breaking each time I read how sad Ava and Max were. I wanted to dive into the pages and hug and hold them so tightly. With Amy’s imagery, characterization and wonderful writing I was able to almost feel the exact same emotions that Ava was experiencing.

Even though Heart Like Mine is a very sad and painful story, I fell in love with the characters. Amy has an extraordinary way of capturing her audience and really grasping the souls of each character. This is a compelling, sweet and tender story about the obstacles of marriage, love and family relations. I highly recommend book clubs putting this on the top of their list.

Thanks to Atria for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have one copy to share with a lucky US reader!

How to win Heart Like Mine:
Since it's still foodie month, but we're keeping in theme with the book, please tell us: What was the first thing you learned to cook by yourself when you were growing up?

One entry per person.

Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win. Entries without contact information will NOT be counted.

US only. Giveaway ends March 25th at midnight EST.

More by Amy Hatvany:


Tiffany Drew said...

That was a long time ago and I can barely remember yesterday lol. I'm gonna have to guess and say it was probably Ramen Noodles. We ate a ton of Ramen as kids, which probably explains why I can't stand it now :)


pascale said...

First, I LOVE Amy's books. I have read every one of them and cant wait to read this one. They ALL really moved me. Such real stories, such real characters. All hard to read but so fine.

Boy do I love to cook. And the memory of the first thing I ever cooked.... Kraft Mac and Cheese!!! I was so darn proud. I still love them, orange color included! My kids love it too and even though I make a mean homemade mac and cheese, sometimes nothing hits the spot better than Kraft!

Book Mama said...

I learned how to make mac and cheese and thought I was a gourmet chef ;)

dorre said...

scrambled eggs or chocolate chip cookies .... kinda my faves even now :)
Jerseykurl at aol dot com

Unknown said...

Probably going to be a very popular answer-Kraft mac and cheese! Side note, the first time my sister made it, she skipped the draining part...oops! (It was a little watery. lol):)

Anonymous said...

I can barely remember what I cooked last night. I'm going to say scrambled eggs. I'm looking so forward to reading Amy's book.

SuzyQ4PR at aol dot com

TinaB said...

The first thing I learned to cook was peanut butter cookies.

Jessica said...

Hmm, I'm having a hard time remembering so I'm just going to guess and say grilled cheese. Everyone says I'm an expert at grilled cheese. =]

-Jessica M

susieqlaw said...

Cherry pie

sendsusanmail AT gmail Dot com

Rhonda said...

Scrambled eggs and I was really

Cher B said...

Toll house cookies are the first thing I can remember making all on my own, from the recipe on the semi-sweet chip bag. There is a bag in my pantry to this day, though I can't remember the last time I made a batch of cookies from scratch. I really enjoyed reading Amy Hatvany's "Outside the Lines" and am looking forward to reading "Heart Like Mine". Thanks for the chance to win!

Bonnie K. said...

I don't remember the first thing I learned to cook. I do remember baking chocolate chip cookies and boiling eggs. Oh, I just remembered. I baked bread. I remember kneading it, letting it rise, punching it, and then baking it.It really wasn't until I left home that I was interested in cooking for myself. My mother was an excellent cook.

Tanya Quilts in CO said...

Paper wrapped chicken. Our second grade teacher taught us!

Linda Kish said...

grilled cheese sandwiches

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

leonel said...

i learned how to boil rice!

leonelescota at gmail

Karen said...

Macaroni and cheese! Still one of my comfort foods only now I've learned how to put tuna and peas in it!


bn100 said...



Anita Yancey said...

The first thing I learned to cook was fried eggs. It was really tricky because I had never broken an egg before.


Unknown said...

Does toast count? Heh. Otherwise, pasta. Can't wait to read Amy's new book.

Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

Haha, probably macaroni and cheese! I also clearly remember switching sugar and salt when making cookies when I was younger... my poor parents had to pretend to like them!

Nina said...

It was a LONG time before I cooked on my own! (I had a bad experience burning the living room carpet when trying to heat up mozzarella sticks in the oven as a pre-teen!!) But one day, thanks to Sandra Lee I decided to tackle a quiche! And have been cooking every since!

Kristen said...

Kraft Mac & cheese all the way!


Twisty J said...

I learned to make baked apples. My dad and I used to make them while my mom was at work and my brother was at school. I still remember how they tasted!

karenk said...

i don't remember...i always helped my mom in the kitchen :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Hailey Fish said...

I always helped out my mom in the kitchen. I'm not much of a cook but I do pay attention to how my mom does it. I've learned how to make a lot of her recipes.

Laura Kay said...

First food I cooked was scrambled eggs and it was my dad who taught me. Normally my mom did all the cooking, but breakfast on the weekends was done by dad. :)

Laura Kay

Lisamarie said...

THe first thing I learned to cook by myself was Pork chops. Back then it was the shake n Bake stuff so I followed directions and my family didn't die ;)

My mom made me in charge of them from that point on.


Lauren McCormick said...

I really want to read this story! My life isn't anything like what this book is about, however we adopted two young siblings (4 & 5) when our biological son was 9.
We became a family of 3 for nine years to a family of 5 overnight! We took on two young lives, full of baggage and past experiences that we learned about as time went by.
I feel drawn to this book for these reasons.

My Mother taught me to cook a Tuna Noodle Casserole that to this day is asked for over and over. Delicious and so easy to do.

Baking Poppyseed Cookies was also one of the first things I learned to cook. Good memories!

itzhunic at hotmail dot com

Daniel M said...

bacon n eggs - regnod(at)yahoo(d0t)com

Mrs Mommy Booknerd said...

Mac n cheese!
Mrsmommybooknerdsbookreviews at gmail dot com

Just a Girl In the World said...

The winner of "Heart Like Mine" is:

18- Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields

Congratulations, Amber!