How To Mend a Broken Heart by Amy Andrews ****
This is one of those wow books when you are amazed at the story but shattered at the same time. This was such an emotional read for me even though I've never lost a child post-natal. Fletcher and Tessa are such remarkable characters you just ache for them right from the first moment. Each of them have dealt with the loss, the grief and the guilt of losing their only child tragically in different ways.
Fletch looks whole on the surface but inside he has a hole in his heart that not only is the place where their son should be, but also his soulmate Tessa. He has chosen to devote his life to improving the chances of children who drown by researching and trialling methods.
Tessa has withdrawn entirely from feeling, from living, and this was essentially the breaking point of the marriage. They still loved each other but they lost their way in expressing that love, in validating their feelings. By denying her grief and through that, giving her husband no outlet for his, Tessa pushed Fletch into an action that became the final straw.
Now they have to work together to help Fletcher's mother who is sinking into the frightening world of Alzheimer's. Tessa is experienced in nursing such patients since she left paediatric nursing to avoid children and Fletch desperately needs her assistance.
Thrust together, these two have to start dealing with the issues that tore them apart ten years ago. And it is a painful process, not just for the hero and heroine, but for us living through it with them.
I felt battered when I finished the book. Yes, it has a happy ending. But as the author informed me when I asked halfway through when I was panicking, it is a tempered one. Damaged people do not have euphoric happy endings, not in the real world.
But this book, painful as it is, is a book about hope. It is about healing that can come if we are willing to work towards it, within ourselves and together with those we love.
The writing, and the way the author deals with such a deeply sensitive issue is beautifully done. It isn't an easy book to read but it is a very worthwhile one. Anyone who denigrates the quality and depth of romance novels has never read authors such as Amy Andrews. Thank you Amy for the pleasure and the pain, and the healing tears.