Wednesday, November 11, 2015

REVIEW: The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews

The Heart Mender
by Andy Andrews

Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Page Count: 256
Release Date: May 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover

How got: personal library; via Amazon

First attention getter: synopsis


From GoodReads:

In the classic storytelling style of The Noticer and The Traveler's Gift, New York Times best-selling author Andy Andrews now delivers an adventure set sharply against the warm waters and white sands of the Gulf of Mexico in WWII America.

Saddened and unable to abandon her resentment toward the Nazi war machine that took her husband's life, the young and attractive Helen Mason is living a bitter, lonely existence. Betrayed and left for dead, German U-boat officer Lt. Josef Landermann washes ashore in a sleepy town along the northern gulf coast, looking to Helen for survival.

The Heart Mender is a story of life, loss, and reconciliation, reminding us of the power of forgiveness and the universal healing experience of letting go.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 3

I anticipated receiving this book in the mail; the story idea of a German navy guy washing up on American shores during WWII and falling in love with an American woman was such a unique idea. Unfortunately, some aspects of the book kept it from reaching its full potential.

Written as a unique blend of fictional tale and non-fiction research story, this book fooled me at times whether certain aspects of it were actually true or not. There is a section at the end that tells what ultimately happens to the different parties in the story that leads me to believe that maybe some aspects of this book were real. I’m still not sure on that account.

I loved getting a window into an area of WWII not often explored. The story of the perilous times that existed in American waterways on the east coast and in the gulf is not that well known. Even during the times, the government put a gag order on the papers to keep the story from the general population. Of course, the population who lived close to the coast knew what was going on. This book plays on this premise, playing on the idea of a man from the German navy washing up on shore after being shot overboard.

I liked that the author used Josef and Hans to show the readers that not all Germans were hardline Nazis. Many found small ways to resist and had a firm sense of honor and duty. Josef was a honorable, courageous man who fought for his country and loved his fellow brothers in the military. He was a great point of view to tell the story through. I also liked Helen and how bitter she was. Her levels of rage and hate were believable given the circumstances she had experienced. Helen’s journey to healing made her story relatable and emotionally resonant.

Where this book fell down and faltered was in its heavy-handedness with the themes of forgiveness and healing. While good, worthy themes to explore to be sure, when you’re portraying them with the proverbial 2x4, they can be tiresome. Nothing was subtle or interwoven with the story here. There would be entire paragraphs and dialogue exchanges where the only thing talked about was the need for forgiving others and how much peace and healing that brings. The other story threads of love, hiding, and unexpected alliances were completely overshadowed; this book suffered from that imbalance.

A good story idea and great lead characters made for a promising title. They helped to make this book at least semi-enjoyable. However, an overemphasis on themes killed the book overall. I felt drowned in the proselytizing and was just glad when the book was done. At least I finished it; the underlying story was enjoyable enough to carry me to the finish line. But, I don’t see myself picking up this book again.

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