Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Book Review: The Life Intended, by Kristin Harmel

I can smell salt in the air from the coast nearby, and I reach instinctively for the silver dollar hanging from my neck as I think about how Patrick and I threw a coin into the ocean just blocks from here after we got married. A thank-you to the universe for the best thing that ever happened to me, Patrick said. I wonder if you're allowed to ask the universe to refund your coins when life doesn't turn out the way you planned.

I'm not sure if I've read any of Kristin Harmel's books before this one, but I definitely plan on reading more now. The Life Intended was a fast read that I could not put down - in fact, I was supposed to be reading a book for my book club but started this midway and then had to finish it - and it should appeal to most readers.

Official synopsis:
Finding love once is a gift. Finding it twice – young widow Kate Waithman understands just how lucky that is. 

A music therapist in New York City, Kate is newly engaged to a handsome, successful man. Life should be just about perfect, except that suddenly Kate is having unsettling dreams about her first husband. In those dreams, Patrick didn’t die on that terrible night twelve years ago, and he and Kate have a daughter, Hannah. The feelings and images are so vivid, so right, that Kate doesn’t know what to think. Is Patrick trying to tell her something, or is she just afraid to grasp this second chance at happiness? 

Slowly, piece by piece, Kate’s dream world hands her clues. And as she puts them together, what she finds are unexpected revelations about trusting herself, about hope after heartache, and about Patrick himself. Most of all, Kate learns that even in loss, love never really leaves, but waits to guide us exactly where we need to be.

Twelve years ago, Kate's husband, Patrick, passed away suddenly in a car accident: a drunk woman, who also happened to have her child in the car, hit him. The woman and the child were fine; Patrick died at the scene. Kate was 28 years old, and has been grieving for the past 12 years, even though she's now engaged to Dan, a "perfect" man who she feels lucky to have found.

Kate is moderately happy with her life until one night, she has a dream where the accident didn't happen, and she's still married to Patrick. They have a 12-year-old daughter, Hannah, who is deaf, and uses ASL (American Sign Language) to communicate. Kate wakes up and is almost disappointed to see Dan in bed next to her, as the dream felt so real.

Soon, Kate finds herself hoping to see Patrick and Hannah again, and questioning whether she should even marry Dan; she also starts taking ASL classes with a handsome instructor, Andrew, in the hopes of being able to communicate with Hannah more in the dreams. 

I've read books about dreams before, but this one was very interesting. Timeline-wise, Kate knew that it's impossible for Hannah to exist, because she would have had to be pregnant with her very shortly after meeting Patrick; Kate's dreamworld, however, feels real, and she regrets having to "leave" it every time she wakes up. 

I also didn't know much about ASL and the ASL community before reading this novel, and it was good to take a peek inside of their world. Many children who are deaf or use cochlear implants are in the foster system, and Kate tries to help them by using music therapy, which is also her day job - she helps (mostly) children get through tough times in their lives with music therapy.

This book hooked me right away and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes a good read. I want to read The Sweetness of Forgetting, another Harmel book, too - I did a giveaway last month for both that and this book, and I'll probably check out more of Harmel's books as well.

The Life Intended will be in stores on December 30th. 4.5 stars out of 5.
{click here to pre-order}

*Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

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