Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Review: Another Piece of My Heart

Another Piece of My Heart
By Jane Green
St. Martin's Press March 2012
400 pages
ARC won from Macmillan and Goodreads

Andi has become a well-known fairy tale character: the evil stepmother. But Andi isn’t evil; she is well-loved by her husband Ethan and her stepdaughter Sophia. The only person who finds her evil is her teenage stepdaughter Emily. Their tempestuous relationship threatens to drive Andi to the edge and tear the family apart. When Andi discovers that Emily has a big secret, will it save the fragile family or finally destroy them?

This novel got off to a bit of a rough start for me. It seemed so endlessly clich├ęd – the rebellious teenage daughter, the father who makes excuses for her, and worst of all the ridiculous gay neighbors. Ms. Green quickly establishes the impasse at which Andi and Emily exist. Emily is rude and nasty to her stepmother for no apparent reason, and Ethan tends to side with his precious daughter which of course strains his marriage. The situation is not helped by Ethan’s ex who has partial custody of the girls and is happy to stick her nose into their relationship and disparage Andi. The problem for me was that we lingered in this no man’s land for a little too long. Like Andi, I was seriously considering leaving this relationship. .

Thankfully, the novel does move beyond this. The revelation of Emily’s secret has major ramifications for the family and it has the potential to heal or break them. It made a lot of difference for me when the narrative switched from Andi to Emily. Once we saw things from both points of view, it made it much more accessible for the reader.

While I was tempted early on to write this book off as fluffy, as it progressed it wrestled with a lot of important issues. The stakes become increasingly high and I sat down and finished the book in an afternoon. This book is ultimately about what makes a family – who do you let in and who do you let go? Is family defined by blood or by something deeper? While the story is somewhat predictable, I did find myself thinking about the characters and the issues with which they grapple after I finished reading.

If Jane Green is your girl and you have been waiting to get your hands on this book, fear not! Another Piece of My Heart is released today, March 13! Pick it up at your book-selling establishment of choice. 

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