There's a scene early in Another Piece of My Heart in which one of the main characters is grieving for her mother. (Don't worry, that isn't a spoiler.) Her best friends come over with a box of See's Chocolates, and -- even though they are health-food California yoga-and-granola types -- say, "Sometimes, you just need some sugary crap." And they eat the entire box in one sitting.
That's pretty much how I feel after reading this novel. It's not deep meaningful fiction; I don't think anyone is going to choose this for their next book club meeting. But sometimes you just need someone to tell you a story about someone ELSE's problems and victories, and Another Piece of My Heart is a perfect example.
Our basic setup: Andi married in her late 30s, and feels she's found the perfect man. Ethan is warm and understanding, and Andi's happy to have a ready-made family, with Ethan's two teenage daughters from an earlier marriage. All she needs to feel fulfilled is a baby of her own. Only she has friction with the older daughter, and self-doubts. And that's just where we start...
This book is all about the characters and their relationships and their journeys. Andi is our main character but we also see into the worlds of the step-daughter Emily and several other key people.
I have oddly mixed feelings about the result. On the one hand, this novel is so very much a chick lit *fantasy*. When people get angry, they remain articulate. When they have a life-changing moment, they rarely waver. Ethan is a sensitive new age guy, the one that most women imagine to be perfect (he probably picks up his own socks, too), except for his understandable weakness for his older daughter. And he isn't very realistic. Most guys just aren't going to say, "I love you. I hate these fights, these moments that happen when we disconnect from each other so completely, but that isn't what defines our relationship." I don't think they talk that way during a marital argument even in California.
And yet... I couldn't put the book down. I ate the whole box of cheap chocolates at one sitting. Despite the fact that the prose is sometimes overworked sentimentality, the characters do come alive. I cared what happened to them. I don't really _believe_ them, but I wanted to. And I think you will, too.
If you're ready for a good wallow in a hot tub with bubble bath... this is the book you want beside you.