Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

Heart of the Matter, the latest from Emily Giffin--what can I say?  I had a coupon and the cover is purple, and so went my pledge to library more/purchase less.

From Booklist (via amazon)
Tessa Russo is celebrating her wedding anniversary with her handsome husband, Nick, a pediatric plastic surgeon, when his pager goes off. At the hospital, he meets his new patient, six-year-old Charlie, who has been badly burned while roasting s’mores. Charlie’s mother, Valerie, a high-powered lawyer who has raised Charlie on her own, is wracked with guilt. As Charlie goes through various grafts and surgeries to repair the damage done to his face and hand, Nick and Valerie become close. Tessa, a stay-at-home mom who has misgivings about leaving her professorship, recognizes the distance growing between her and Nick but isn’t sure what to attribute it to or what to do about it. The premise is a familiar one, but Giffin injects freshness by getting inside both Tessa’s and Valerie’s heads and by making both sympathetic, fleshed-out characters. Giffin’s talent lies in making her characters believable and relatable, and readers will be enthralled by this layered, absorbing novel.

On becoming your mother
On Sunday afternoon, Nick, Ruby, Frank, and I are shopping for Halloween costumes at Target--our idea of quality family time--when I realize that I've officially become my mother.  It's certainly not the first time I have sheepishly caught myself in a "Barb-ism" as my brother calls such moments.  For example, I know I sound like her whenever I warn Ruby that she's "skating on thin ice" or that "only boring people get bored."  And I see myself in her when I buy something I truly don't want--whether a dress or a six-pack of ramen noodles--simply because it is on sale.  And when I judge someone for forgetting to write a thank-you note, or driving a car with a vanity license plate, or, God forbid, chewing gum too enthusiastically in public.

On what women do  (My comment:  They do?)
...all women compare lives.  We are aware of whose husband works more, who helps more around the house, who makes more money, who is having more sex.  We compare our children, taking note of who is sleeping through the night, eating their vegetables, miding their manners, getting into the right schools.  We know who keeps the best house, throws the best parties, cooks the best meals, has the best tennis game.  We know who among us is the smartest, has the fewest lines around her eyes, has the best figure--whether naturally or artifically.  We are aware of who works full-time, who stays at home with the kids, who manages to do it all and make it look easy, who shops and lunches while the nanny does it all.  We digest it all and then discuss with our friends.  Comparing and then confiding it is what women do.

My plot summary?  Take a single mother with a badly injured child and mix with a somewhat happily married renowned pediatric surgeon. Toss in a the surgeon's wife who's wondering "is that all there is," and you have the Heart of the Matter.

While Giffin explored in depth the single attorney mother and the former college professor housewife and made each of these characters evoke sympathy from me, I felt some annoyance that the story never really got inside the doctor's head to understand what he was thinking and feeling. 

Next time, I'll be strong and remember my pledge...or I'll just honestly admit that I may have aged out of this kind of story regardless of the come hither purple cover.

Rating:  2.5/5 (Fiction Scale)

Dedication:  For Sarah, my sister and lifelong friend

First line:  Whenever I hear of someone else's tragedy, I do not dwell on the accident or diagnosis, or even the initial shock waves or aftermath of grief.

Lullaby of the Leaves, Vince Guaraldi
Unchained Melody, Righteous Brothers
Jupiter Symphony, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, Johann Sebastian Bach
Night Swimming, REM
Sarah Smile, Hall & Oates
Beck CD (unspecified)
Georgia on My Mind, Willie Nelson version

1 comment:

Les said...

On what women do (My comment: They do?)
...all women compare lives.

I read that passage and thought, I don't do that! Maybe when I was younger, but certainly not now. Who cares?!

Did you create the Playlist or was is included somewhere in the book? I love it when authors incorporate music in their novels.

I have an ARC of this. Picked it up just to try another well-read author. Now I'm wondering if I should just skip it!