‘Heart of the Matter’

The Book Worm

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

Last night, the camel’s back was broken. You used to be in love, the two of you. There were long conversations, lingering looks and lots of laughter. In those days, there was no doubt that he was “the one.”

Lately, though, it seems that all you do is fight. Conversation consists of snide, nothing-to-laugh-at comments and after last night, well, you don’t know if you can ever forgive him.

When a relationship line is crossed, can two people step backward? Maybe, as you’ll discover in the new novel “Heart of the Matter” by Emily Giffin.

Tessa Russo has everything: two beautiful children, a Tudor house in a tony suburb and a handsome husband who happens to be one of the world’s leading pediatric plastic surgeons.

Nick is dedicated to his work and his patients love him; so does Tessa, which is why she never complains when he has to leave the house at a moment’s notice, even on the night of their anniversary.

Life has been good to Tessa these years, and she wonders how different it would have been if she’d married the man she was engaged to when she met Nick. She remembers that night, how she got on the subway and saw Nick and was instantly in love. He had remarked on her gigantic engagement ring, she started to cry and he gave her his number. Six months later, she was wearing his diamond.

Nick is Tessa’s best friend. No matter what her feminist mother says and whatever the neighborhood gossip, she can’t imagine that she could be any happier than she is right now.

Valerie Anderson didn’t want her son, Charlie, going to his classmate’s birthday party. It wasn’t that she had anything against the kid, but the boy’s mother was so uppity. Valerie knew women like that, and they always looked down on single, working mothers like her.

If only she had listened to her gut that night, then Charlie wouldn’t have gotten hurt. And if Charlie hadn’t gotten hurt, he wouldn’t have needed a plastic surgeon. And if that hadn’t happened, then Valerie wouldn’t have met Nick Russo and three lives wouldn’t have intersected so harshly.

I hope I didn’t spoil the ending for you, but by the second chapter of “Heart of the Matter”, you pretty much know what’s going to happen, anyhow.

The thing is, you really don’t.

Giffin weaves a story about trust, love and willingness to sacrifice even when you can’t bear to do it, but she doesn’t allow much predictability. Each of her characters is complex in a light-novel sort of way and though I enjoyed my time spent with them, I vacillated between loving them and wanting to yell at them. With reactions like that, who can resist?

If you’re looking for some lighter reading this summer, look for “Heart of the Matter.” For the beach or for vacation, you’ll never forgive yourself if you miss it.

Terri Schlichenmeyer collects books, tigers, trivia and book bags. She has also been accused of collecting dust now and then.

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