Seven-year-old Jake’s heart is failing and he doesn’t want to leave his dad, Simon, alone. So he makes a decision: to find Simon someone to love before he goes.
Beth is determined to forget the past. But even when she leaves New York to start afresh in a Lake District village, she can’t shake the secrets that haunt her.
Single dad Simon still holds a candle for the woman who left him years ago. And when every day is a struggle to earn a living while caring for his beloved son, he has no time for finding someone new.
But Jake is determined his plan will succeed – and what unfolds will change all three of them forever.
I always find it hard to read stories where children are in pain and would have skipped this had it not been for Jake’s determination which called out to me. Thank you, Hodder & Stoughton, for the invitation to read this NetGalley ARC. I’d have hated to have missed it.
Jake has Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) – a congenital defect where the left side of the heart is not formed correctly. This prevents him from indulging in activities otherwise normal for a kid his age. He has already had two open heart surgeries and is due for a third – the Fontan Completion – a major surgery for HLHS patients.
It breaks your heart when Jake is unable to play with his friends or kick a ball on the field, having to sit out every game for fear of putting too much stress on his heart. Even so, his energy and enthusiasm to live each moment in a state of maximum joy is adorable.
Beth returns to the village where she spent holidays with her family, for a taste of familiarity and comfort, but is off to a rocky start when she nearly runs over Jake’s bike and has his furious father to deal with.
Despite her brave exterior, something about the past ten years is gnawing at her confidence in her abilities. Her emotions are always on edge and it doesn’t help that the only available house on rent has Simon and Jake for neighbours.
Jake is quick to welcome Beth next door for he does have a motive. Before he can act on it, Tamsin—his mother and the great love of Simon’s life—returns, six years after abandoning them.
This is not Beth’s or Simon’s or Jake’s story but of all three. Each of them is holding onto memories which have destroyed their belief in love, leaving deep cracks in their hearts. Coming together they find a little happiness. But the pain is ignored for only a moment. As it turns out, their collective pain is too much to bear.
There is a tenderness in how Jake, given his medical condition, is the salve to the soul. His efforts to walk his father across the bridge of hope win your heart. His passion for life provokes Beth to take back what rightfully belongs to her and bring closure to her past.
I won’t deny there was some ugly crying involved during my reading of this novel. I was thinking of the characters all through dinner that I ended up throwing the dishes in the garbage and trash in the kitchen sink. (For the record, I fixed it later with no damage done.)
This brave, poignant story of overcoming life’s consequences is so achingly beautiful you’ll want to wrap yourself in its bundle of warmth.
Book 30 of 2021.
Aquamarine Flavours Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟1/2.
Available on Amazon*.
This heart with angel wings is made in origami and the heartbeat is made using strips of paper.
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