the life intended book coverReviewed by Jennifer Jensen

Kate Waithman and her husband Patrick couldn’t be happier, until their time together is cut tragically short when Patrick is killed in a car accident. Twelve years later Kate has seemingly moved on; she’s engaged to her boyfriend of two years, Dan. But Kate realizes perhaps she isn’t as grounded in the present after she starts having vivid dreams of Patrick and the life they could have had together.

In Kate’s dreams, she and Patrick have both aged, and she is the mother of a beautiful young girl named Hannah, who is hard of hearing. Kate is desperate to hold onto this version of her life, but the lovely dreams always fade away, leaving Kate’s heart longing for what she cannot have. Kate had never considered the possibility of parenthood, but back in her life without Patrick, she learns that she is infertile. Dan is perfectly content with never having children, but Kate realizes being a mother is something she desperately wants.

To grow closer to the daughter she only knows in her dreams, Kate begins to take American Sign Language courses. She grows close to the instructor, Andrew Henson, and soon uses her music therapy skills to reach out to young children with hearing loss. Meanwhile, Kate’s relationship with Dan becomes strained the more time she spends getting to know the daughter she never knew she wanted.

The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel appealed to me based on its comparisons to the films Sliding Doors and the book-turned-movie P.S. I Love You. Now having read it, I also think fans of the movies What If… and The Family Man will also be interested. I have to confess I’ve been in a book funk lately. Nothing I have read in the last few months has truly resonated with me, but that all changed once I got lost in Kate’s story. This was a very hard book for me to put down; I took every free moment I had to continue on Kate’s journey.

The Life Intended also kept me guessing; just when I thought I had things figured out, the book took a few surprising and heartwarming turns. I haven’t wanted a happy ending for a character as badly as I wanted one for Kate. I’m a huge fan of happily ever afters, and as much as I wanted Kate and Patrick together, I knew it couldn’t happen—and so did Kate. Kristin Harmel tied up everything so beautifully by the end that I couldn’t stop myself from tearing up. I’ve read one other book of Harmel’s, but reading The Life Intended has convinced me I need to read absolutely everything she’s written.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.