Monday, July 9, 2012

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

Release Date: March 15th, 2011
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (MacMillan)
Page Count: 368
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher for review (thank you!!!)

A POWERFUL, PROVOCATIVE NOVEL ABOUT MARRIAGE AND MOTHERHOOD, LOVE AND FORGIVENESS

Tessa Russo is a stay-at-home mother of two young children and the wife of a renowned pediatric surgeon. Valerie Anderson is an attorney and single mother to six-year-old Charlie – a boy who has never known his father. Although both women live in the same Boston suburb, they are strangers to one another and have little in common, aside from a fierce love for their children. But one night, a tragic accident causes their lives to converge in ways no one could have imagined.

This is the moving, luminous story of good people caught in untenable circumstances. Each being tested in ways they never thought possible. Each questioning everything they once believed. And each ultimately discovering what truly matters most.
What Stephanie Thinks: I have always been an Emily Giffin fangirl. I've followed her from her first novel, Something Borrowed, to its sequel, Something Blue, to her other two books, Baby Proof and Love the One You're With, so I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with this one.

What I love most about Giffin is how she is able to write from any perspective, any set of eyes, and no matter what, the product is moving and real. Whether it be the wholesome young mother, the wronged woman, or the other woman that she portrays directly, she puts readers right into their shoes. It is almost as if she moulds each character's identity by pulling from the mind and heart of the reader of her words. Her keen musings are tinted with universality, and found in them, are heart-tugging anecdotes that are bound to impact anyone. Only she has the ability to make the development of an extramarital affair seem gratifying, and even justifiable. Only she is able to perfectly capture a mother's ceaseless love and two lovers' undying support. Her voice penetrates and is startlingly accurate, both tender and witty at the same time. Giffin's prowess of the pen is certainly one of the reasons Heart of the Matter is such a sparkling, compassionate read.

The characterization is also very strong. Tessa, Valerie, Tessa's husband, Nick, Valerie's son, Charlie, all of them—all of them, I slowly fell in love with. Not in the way I swoon over alpha-male heros in penny-dreadful Harlequins, but as if they were each my own mother, my own sister, lover, husband, child—this too, is what amazes me about Giffin.

As far as the story goes, the dialogue is rich, real, and often amusing. The plot flows rather slowly, but it's a smooth ride, though there are twists that spike my breathing every once in a while. My only serious complaint is the ending. I won't include any spoilers but will say I seriously was engrossed by the smooth-sailing sequence of events and glowing characters... until the final few chapters. I am sorely discontented by the characters in their concluding decisions. I would have liked to see better closure, something more satisfying, but I guess that's not my territory to breach.

As a whole, Emily Giffin does not disappoint. With consistently radiant characters and gorgeously-written prose, Heart of the Matter is the kind of book that makes you wish you were a part of its fictional progression, and, for the duration of 368 pages, you actually feel like you are.

Stephanie Loves: "His eyes are bright—as bright as brown eyes can be—but something in them tells her that he is here to break her heart."

Radical Rating: 8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥