Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: "The Life Intended" by Kristin Harmel

I remember when Kristin Harmel's book The Sweetness of Forgetting exploded on the literary scene. Despite the fact that I have yet to read it, I remember how many people raved about it. When the opportunity for me to review it presented itself I couldn't resist, and my decision to read it sooner rather than later was cemented when fellow book-lover Melissa Amster mentioned to me how much she had loved it herself. Now I just couldn't wait to get to it!

The Life Intended tells the story of Kate Waithman, who has been frozen in grief since her husband Patrick was taken from her when he was involved in a fatal car accident. Twelve years later she is still grieving, despite the fact that her friends and family have told her that it is time for her to move on. Kate is trying to move on- she has opened her own music therapy practice and she is engaged to be married to a really nice man, but how come she doesn't feel more for him? Where are the butterflies that she had when she was with Patrick?

When Kate begins dreaming incredibly vivid dreams about her late husband and a daughter who is hard of hearing, she feels compelled to sign up for classes teaching American sign language for in case she returns to this dream world and she needs to communicate with her daughter. The teacher of the class, Andrew, ends up introducing Kate to the world of foster care and to kids who need her more than she ever could have imagined and Kate discovers that perhaps it is possible for her to start living once again.

The Life Intended drew me in from the very first pages. Author Kristin Harmel describes a powerful kind of love to the reader, and in a way the first few pages reminded me of Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid, a book that I absolutely adored. We, as readers, quickly realize that what Kate and Patrick had in their marriage was truly a kind of love to be appreciated and envied, and the fact that their love story was cut short was a tragedy.

I appreciated the surreal aspects of the book. When Kate is dreaming there is more to it than it being merely a dream. Her dreams of Patrick are about more than a wife missing a lost husband, but they seem to be taking place in an alternate reality. These parts of the book has me at the edge of my seat waiting to find out what would happen next. I was curious how these strange dreams would translate into Kate's real life, and as the plot slowly unfolded I found myself beyond curious about what would happen next!

I loved how The Life Intended wrapped up. While I had somewhat of a guess as to what was coming that made the conclusion no less satisfying. I loved how the book opened my eyes to a few topics that I know very little about but are both relevant and important for me to think about. The characters were ones that I quickly became attached to and I wanted a happy ending for them all! I couldn't have improved on the ending if I had tried. The Life Intended was a satisfying, thought-provoking story and I can't recommend it enough to those looking for a fantastic read! My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a review copy of this book.

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