Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Book: This Heart of Mine by Brenda Novak

This Heart of Mine by Brenda Novak

I truly enjoyed this one. The people of Whiskey Creek are interesting, and each couple has unique problems.

In this case, Phoenix comes back to Whiskey Creek from prison, and is determined to get to know the son she couldn't raise. She's got serious self-esteem issues, and bends over backward to keep from offending anyone, least of all her son, Jake, or her co-parent, Riley, to earn a place in her son's life. Jake seems equally determined to have her in his life whether she "deserves" it or not.

I have been where she is - not the seventeen years in prison part, but the part where it's safer to keep people away because how can they honestly like me, so I go out of my way to make myself unlikable part. The portrayal of Phoenix's inner workings might seem overdramatic or unbelievable to someone who's never suffered from self-esteem issues, but it's pretty accurate. It takes work and effort to overcome a bad beginning. That's one small part of the story which didn't quite ring true for me: the lack of mention of any kind of mental health work while Phoenix was incarcerated, or after she was released.

Getting glimpses of couples whose stories I've previously read was lovely, and in this case, the "gang" took a very secondary place to Phoenix and Riley and Jake.

The focus of the story was very much on the person with the most to lose - Phoenix. Her relationship with her son develops nicely, with realistic growth of trust and affection on each of their parts. Jake is very definitely a unique kid - a good one - and I'd love to someday read the story of him falling in love himself.

I like that she's determined to stay in her mother's life, that she understands what's driving her mother's behavior (some of it), and that she hopes to address her mother's problems in a slow and realistic way.

I would have liked to learn a bit more about Phoenix's prison friendship with Coop, and I'm very curious about who's buying all of her work, because that seemed to be important, then wasn't ever developed further, but for the most part, the pace and plotting of this one were good. I *really* appreciated that this book ended with a resolution which was very true to this particular couple.

The author gave me a PDF copy of this book in return for an honest review.