The second of two books sent to me by Thomas Nelson Publishers that I was asked to review was The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews. I have enjoyed Andy's writing through the years. I have not had any epiphanies while reading his works nor can I say I have ever been riveted, but they have been enjoyable reads and I eventually get around to reading whatever his latest happens to be.
The Heart Mender does not fit into his normal category. From the first page I was intrigued. Actually, his introduction was what hooked me. He explained that the story was "for the most part" a true one. A few names and locations had been altered since the principal characters are still alive, but in one word, "yes," the story was true.
Then, the setting intrigued me. Realizing that the story was set on the beaches of southern Alabama, in and around Foley, Orange Beach, and Perdido Key, Florida, was plenty enough to grab my attention. I have spent many pleasant days and hours there with my family when my children were younger. We had access to a vacation home there and the landmarks and locations Andy describes in the book are all very familiar to me.
I am also intrigued by World War II history. Having toured prison camps in Germany as well as many historical sites in the Pacific theater, I have long been amazed at how the United States seemingly turned its head for so long against the atrocities that were being committed elsewhere. It was only when our own men and resources were attacked at Pearl Harbor, HI in 1941 that we began to sit up and take notice. To find out that the evil that pervaded the world during those years was actually right on my back doorstep--off the coast of my own state, Louisiana--is amazing to me.
But it was the actual story itself that wouldn't let me put the book down and forced me to read it in two sittings. An early morning forced the light out the first night. The second night, nothing could have forced it out. I read until 3:00 a.m. There was no way I was going to save the end for later. Amazing, mesmerizing, incredible...a story of love, forgiveness, suspense, horror, yet beautiful...
I wish so badly I could meet the characters who are still alive. I know it would be infringing upon their privacy, but there are so many questions I would love to ask.
Male or female, you simply must read it. I'm requiring it of my 8th grader in his Language Arts curriculum during the coming year. I want my husband and college student daughter to read it, also. I'm giving a copy to my mother. And I'm calling my uncle, a history buff from Texas, to tell him to get it tomorrow. It's a book for all ages.
You won't be able to put it down, either.