Book Review: Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

For the first book review for this blog I decided to do Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin. As this is my first book review I am trying out a new structure to my reviews. This may change as I go and become more comfortable writing my book reviews. Be Aware: This Review Contains Spoilers.

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Summery: Tessa Russo is the mother of two young children and the wife of a renowned pediatric surgeon. Despite her own mother’s warnings, Tessa has recently given up her career to focus on her family and the pursuit of domestic happiness. From the outside, she seems destined to live a charmed life.

Valerie Anderson is an attorney and single mother to six-year-old Charlie—a boy who has never known his father. After too many disappointments, she has given up on romance—and even to some degree, friendships—believing that it is always safer not to expect too much.

Although both women live in the same Boston suburb, the two have relatively little in common aside from a fierce love for their children.  But one night, a tragic accident causes their lives to converge in ways no one could have imagined.

Review: On the whole I thought this was an interesting (if not completely original) story. What I liked most about the book was that it was told in alternating points of view: Tessa and Valerie. In most stories that deal with infidelity we only get the wife’s perspective so the fact that Giffin tells the story from both the wife and the mistress’ point of view was refreshing. However it didn’t make me feel very sympathetic towards Valerie.
In fact I had a hard time liking either Tessa or Valerie. I found both characters to be unsympathetic and annoying at times. Throughout the book Tessa complains that she is unhappy as a stay-at-home mother yet she doesn’t do anything to change her situation. The only reason I felt a little sorry for Tessa was because her husband, Nick, was cheating on her. But I really have to give her credit because unlike Nick she actually seemed to want to work on the issues in their marriage.
In the beginning Valerie seems unhappy in her role as a single working mother yet she seems to close herself off to others. The only people she allows into her life are Charlie and her twin brother. I really felt that  by being in a romantic relationship with Nick she was acting selfishly. She knew from the start that Nick was married yet she still brought him into Charlie’s life knowing that he wasn’t going to be a permanent feature in his life. I feel that she didn’t love Nick so much as she loved the idea of Nick. I also feel that Nick didn’t really love Valerie for herself but loved that she reminded him of Tessa when he first met her.

Best Feature: Alternating Points of View: The best feature for me was the alternating points of view. I liked that you got both sides of the story which made it a more interesting read. I only wish I had liked Tess and Valerie more.

Worst Feature: Nick. I didn’t like Tess or Valerie (no matter how hard I tried) but I really couldn’t stand Nick, Tessa’s husband. He seemed unhappy in his marriage yet, unlike Tessa, he didn’t seem to want to work on their issues. A couple of times in the book Tessa states what a great father Nick is yet instead of wanting to spend time with his own children he would rather leave them at home with a babysitter so he can be with Valerie and Charlie. For some reason this upset me more then his cheating on his wife. If there was anyone I felt bad for in this story it was Tessa and Nick’s children.

Overview: I really did enjoy this book. I would have enjoyed it much more if I could have liked Tessa and Valerie more but overall it was a fun read. I think what made the book for me was the fact that you got both Tessa and Valerie’s point of view. I think that more then anything else this is what made the book more interesting because you were able to see the story from both sides.

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