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.
From Publishers Weekly
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Tessa and Val's story begins with an accident. Valerie Anderson is a strong, determined, stubborn single mom to Charlie, a very sweet, sensitive little boy who's a student at a private school in Boston. She reluctantly allows Charlie to go to a friend's birthday party, even though she finds the parents involved to be rich and snotty. At the party, Charlie is seriously injured in a campfire and rushed to the hospital. Val beats herself up over these choices, not trusting her instincts, massively upset over her hurt little boy. Her twin brother Jason tries to comfort her. But no one is able to reassure her until her son's excellent, attractive pediatric plastic surgeon, Dr.Read more ›
It seems, though, that in each subsequent release, the narrators of Giffin's stories become more cookie-cutter, more self-absorbed, more whiny. In fact, the first few chapters of Heart of the Matter were boring...too much exposition, to much 'tell,' flashback, character descriptions. What happened to letting us know the characters by their behaviors and actions? Honestly, I was thrown back to Sweet Valley High when Jessica and Elizabeth's physical appearances, down to their aquamarine eyes, were described in detail around page 6 of Every. Single. Book.
Also: female novelists: PLEASE stop giving every mommy-protagonist a single BFF who is longing to have what the mommy has. Is it possible that some single women are happy with their lives? Is it possible some married mothers are best friends with... other married mothers? You don't need that cliche character in order to cultivate a random bar/hi-jinks plot excursion. Cate was unnecessary. Completely. (And don't get me started on Romy. People DO have layers...even rich, entitled ones).
That said, this story did get better as time went along, although I found the character Val, because of what she exposed her child to, to be not nearly as sympathetic as she should have been. I found Tessa to be fairly bland. I found the re-appearance of two of my favorite characters from Giffin's original storyline (I won't name and spoil it) to be very exciting at first...but also... a little vanilla.Read more ›
First and foremost, this is a book of subtleties. Tess and Nick appear to have a good marriage, but Tess's thoughts and passive-aggressive behavior during daily routines reveal her underlying resentment toward Nick. And Nick often replies in kind with his own little digs and swipes. Their uneasiness is a transparent veil over the fiction of a contented relationship. It's as though they are playing house and going through the motions.
Tess can barely admit to herself that her stay-at-home Mommyhood is not the ideal existence that she envisioned when leaving her profession behind. She has exchanged her career pursuits for gossipy Mommy cliques and her friendships are more the result of child-friendly playgroup relationships rather than surrounding herself with people she would choose as friends. While confident as a teacher, Tess's self-esteem is tested by the challenges of Motherhood - feeling inadequate as she compares herself to other mothers who seem to make it all look effortless, feeling overwhelmed by the 24/7 demands of children. And often she blames her husband - for not being at home, being the good cop to her bad cop, showing up late to family functions, and leaving early when they are out on the town because of the demands of his job.
The cracks along the fault lines of their marriage are nuanced. No knock down, drag out fights. No chilling put-downs or crying jags.Read more ›