Recent Reads: Family Drama Edition

“Another Piece of My Heart”~ Jane Green

Release Date: March 13, 2012

Plot Summary: (From Amazon)

Andi has spent much of her adult life looking for the perfect man, and at thirty-seven, she’s finally found him. Ethan–divorced with two daughters, Emily and Sophia–is a devoted father and even better husband. Always hoping one day she would be a mother, Andi embraces the girls like they were her own. But in Emily’s eyes, Andi is an obstacle to her father’s love, and Emily will do whatever it takes to break her down. When the dynamics between the two escalate, they threaten everything Andi believes about love, family, and motherhood—leaving both women standing at a crossroad in their lives…and in their hearts.

ANOTHER PIECE OF MY HEART is a novel that illuminates the nuances and truths about relationships and is Jane Green at her absolute best.

TxtingMrDarcy Notes: Ok for starters? I had a really hard time not getting Janis Joplin stuck in my head EVERY time I picked up this book. Clever title choice, but kinda distracting.

This book ended up being very different from what I expected. It started out as a run-of-the-mill “Bratty Daughter Hates New Stepmother and Weak Father Doesn’t Intervene” story. As I continued compulsively reading it though, it became much more. Jane Green creates very well-drawn characters who you can both root for and dislike at the same time. You empathize with Andi, who has finally found the love of her life only to realize they won’t be able to have biological children of their own. You feel that her husband Ethan is weak, allowing himself to be bullied by his teenage daughter and constantly putting her above his wife and other child. It would be SO easy to hate Emily, the antagonistic punk who wreaks havoc through the opening pages of the novel. Nothing in the story is that black and white, though, and that’s what kept me reading.

Jane Green makes you question how much a relationship can really take when there are destructive behaviors acting on it from within. Where should a parent’s loyalty lie if one of their children is deliberately poisoning their relationship? Would they even be able to see it before there are catastrophic consequences with their partner? I really don’t want to write too much and reveal too many spoilers, especially prior to the book even being released.

I will, however, admit that I couldn’t help comparing it to “Not My Daughter,” a novel by Barbara Delinsky that touches on similar themes. If you’ll notice, I didn’t post a review of that particular story because it left me feeling rather uninspired. Yes, I read it. No, I didn’t particularly care for it.

I was initially intrigued by the plot premise of a group of high school girls entering a Pregnancy Pact, and how that decision changes everything for them and their parents in their small town. However, I felt like Delinsky went a bit too “butterflies and roses” on the reader. The high school girls annoyed the crap out of me, with their talk of “being ready to be parents” at 17. The parents annoyed the crap out of me with their lack of anger at their selfish, immature daughters. The other residents of the TOWN annoyed the crap out of me placing all of the blame on the mothers of the pregnant girls. (One of them is unmarried and a successful single mother, how HORRID.) As if these “innocent children” didn’t make a conscious decision to have unprotected sex, and that the women should have been better parents. The girls were aware of their actions and the potential consequences, and they DID IT ANYWAY. (See why I didn’t review? Book stupid. End of story.)

However, some “scary things” happen with the health of one of the young girls, and suddenly everything is magically ok. One of the protagonists even ends up married to her long time love in the end, how SWEET. And the girls are all working SO HARD to be good Mommies and lost all their friends and wah wah wah.

My point? I felt that it was unrealistic. I felt that in the “real world,” situations and decisions like that have consequences, and there is no black and white. Parents don’t always step up and say “Oh well, now we have to take care of our daughter and the baby.”(As in Delinsky’s world.) Even when girls THINK they know what they’re getting into becoming parents at a young age, it might not work out. It might prove to be too much, for whatever reason. A teenager can go out, chose to have unprotected sex, get pregnant and it is NOT a reflection on her parents, she could just be a lost soul looking for attention, affection, or validation. THIS is what Jane Green addresses so well in “Another Piece of My Heart.” You may not always want to be friends with her characters, but you understand their motivations and their reactions to situations. She captures human nature extremely well, which is what drew me to her writing in the first place. Even though she was telling a Cinderella story in “Jemima J,” she told it with heart and let the reader know that everything didn’t magically get better once Jemima lost weight.

I was thrilled to get a chance to read this novel thanks to GoodReads, and would definitely recommend it to any fan of Jane Green, Jennifer Weiner, Sophie Kinsella, or some of the other great female writers out there today. I hestitate to categorize this as “chick lit,” because it’s so much deeper than the typical “Girl meets boy and hijinks happen,” story that falls squarely within that genre.

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