Rating:

Reviewed by Ann Liu

Thirty-seven year old  Andi gets married for the very first time.  She not only gets a husband but also two of his kids from a previous marriage. Andi has always wanted children so she lovingly raises them yet the parenting does not come easy. The eldest child Emily, age 11, challenges her and creates chaos at every turn.  Emily resents Andi for marrying her dad and feels she is in the way. It is a tense relationship for many years.

Things build up slowly as we see how manipulative Emily becomes.  Andi struggles with a husband who constantly sides with his daughter and just when you think the marriage is going to crumble, things take another turn.  Emily does not take responsibility for her actions and ends up becoming a rebellious,  misunderstood teenager, and seeks a place to belong.  She makes one bad choice after another and yet never takes responsibility for her actions. Her behavior leads her to continue to play out her dysfunctional role in the family and keeps all members locked in this unhealthy dance.

Another Piece of My Heart has a beautifully designed cover with a fitting title, but what lurks beneath is much more complicated.  Part of me thinks that in real life things would not play out the way they do. I kept wondering why this dysfunctional family didn’t seek any family counseling since there were deeply unresolved issues between the husband and his ex-wife. It was frustrating to read about the struggles that Andi had to go through and I always felt very sorry for her.

This story will anger you and also warm your heart by the end.  I finished the book in two sittings since it grabbed my attention and drew me into the depths of each family members’ perspective, allowing me to feel each person’s pain.

Jane Green writes with such intensity and creates real characters who are flawed yet redeem themselves in some way as they work through the challenges. I was only concerned with a minor story line about Andi’s infatuation with another man.  It was so minor that I didn’t see the point or even the possibility of it being significant to the whole story.

The beginning half of Another Piece of My Heart moved very slowly but I am glad I got through it because the second half was intense. Just when I thought things were calm in the family, they only became disturbed again because the past never rests. This book certainly leaves a lot to think about in terms of what defines a family and the troubles that result from issues that are not dealt with openly.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Also by Jane Green: Promises to Keep

Ann Liu loves to read women’s fiction, chick-lit, romance, and self help books. She lives in sunny Southern California, where she can enjoy her time reading outdoors.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by St. Martin’s Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.