An unforgettable novel that illuminates the nuances and truths about love, family, and motherhood from the New York Times bestselling author of Jemima J and The Beach House
Another Piece of My Heart
"A moving story peopled with nuanced, sympathetic characters." Booklist
Andi has spent much of her adult life looking for the perfect man, and at thirty-seven, she's finally found him. Ethandivorced with two daughters, Emily and Sophiais a devoted father and even better husband. Always hoping one day she would be a mother, Andi embraces the girls like they were her own. But in Emily's eyes, Andi is an obstacle to her father's love, and Emily will do whatever it takes to break her down. When the dynamics between the two escalate, they threaten everything Andi believes about love, family, and motherhoodleaving both women standing at a crossroad in their lives … and in their hearts.
"You will laugh and cry as you read…It's that good."Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Lucia, Lucia and the Valentine Series
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.77(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Jane Green is the bestselling author of Family Picturesavailable in trade paperback from St. Martin's Griffinas well as a dozen other novels, dealing with real women, real life, and all the things in between, with her trademark wisdom, wit, and warmth. She contributes to various publications, both online and in print, including the Huffington Post, the Sunday Times, and assorted anthologies. Passionate about both food and the home, she spends most weekends cooking up a storm in her home in Westport, Connecticut, where she lives by the beach with her husband and their many children.
Date of Birth:May 31, 1968
Place of Birth:London, England
Education:"Managed to drop out of Fine Art Degree at University."
Read an Excerpt
Another Piece of My Heart
By Jane Green
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2011 Jane Green Warburg
All rights reserved.
The sheets are drenched. Again. Andi takes a long time to wake up, drifting in and out, aware she is hot, then freezing, then finally, when she moves into a state of consciousness, wet.
Opening an eye, she looks at the clock — 4:02 A.M. It's always four in the morning, these nights when she awakes, when she cannot get back to sleep. She turns her head to see Ethan, his back to her, his body rising and falling in deep sleep.
In the bathroom, she pulls the wet T-shirt off, slides the PJ bottoms down, and pads naked into the closet, pulling a dry T-shirt and boxer shorts off the shelf. But that leaves the sheets. Warm and wet.
The linen closet is in the hall, at the other end of the corridor, where the girls' bedrooms are. Andi knows she shouldn't open their door, shouldn't check up, but she is being a mother, she tells herself. This is what mothers do. A stepmother may not have the same rights, but she is trying, has tried so hard to turn this into a proper family, and that includes treating the girls as if they were her own.
How she wishes she had children of her own. Still. Even though she is in her early forties, on a good day she could surely pass for thirty-six.
Every month, she keeps her fingers crossed that this might be the month, this might be the month a miracle happens. Every month, she swallows her disappointment and hopes for the next time.
She pushes Sophia's door open gently to see her, fast asleep, the bald teddy bear that she cannot sleep without, now lying on its side, on the floor next to her bed, Sophia's hand curled out toward it, as if she is waiting for the bear to jump back in. Andi stands in the doorway and smiles, feeling a wave of love for her stepdaughter. Her daughter. And Sophia is her daughter.
She was eight when Andi and Ethan met, and instantly fell in love with Andi. Sophia now tells people she has two mothers, no differentiation in her head between Andi and her real mother.
That first family date, they had gone into the city, dim sum in Chinatown, then walked down to the ferry and taken it out to see the sea lions around the bay. Sophia had grabbed Andi's hand, skipped alongside her, and when they sat down for ice cream, she climbed on Andi's lap and leaned into her, like a much younger child, as Andi stroked her hair, thrilled.
Emily, on the other hand, at twelve, had sulked the entire day. She had squinted evil eyes at Andi, and when Andi had attempted to engage her, asking her questions about school, attempting to share some of her own stories about going to school in New York, Emily had just grunted.
"What is she?" she had sneered at her father, at one point, with a savage gesture toward Andi. "Your girlfriend?"
"She's my friend," Ethan had said. "That's all." Which wasn't true. They had, by that time, been sleeping together for seven weeks.
* * *
On their first date, Ethan talked about his children nonstop, which was, as far as Andi was concerned, an unexpected bonus.
They met through Match.com, a continual embarrassment to Andi. But where else did anyone go to meet people? she wondered.
She had done a series of evening classes with what she thought was a masculine bent — Fundamentals of Investing, Estate Planning 101, and Beginner's Best Barbecue. (Which was a dud. What red-blooded American man, she realized, as she sat in an empty classroom, would admit to not being able to barbecue?)
None produced so much as a date. There were, admittedly, random times she would meet men, or be flirted with in a coffee shop, but they never led to anything permanent.
At thirty-seven she realized, with a shock, she had to be proactive. Sitting back and assuming, as she always had, that she would be married with a large group of smiling kids wasn't the natural order of her life, and unless she took the bull by the horns, she was possibly going to find herself single, frighteningly, for the rest of her life.
It wasn't as if her life wasn't full. Her twenties were spent working in interior design, for a small store in Fairfield, Connecticut, where she had grown up. As she approached thirty, her mother suggested she get a real-estate license, and although Andi enjoyed selling houses, it was what she had to suggest to the homeowners they do, in order to sell their houses, that was her true passion.
Andi loved design. She saw how the addition of new rugs and curtain panels, and moving furniture could transform a home. She started offering her services as a "home-stager" — someone who would come in and beautify the interiors, for minimum cost, in order to sell. Soon she had a warehouse filled with furniture she would rent out to her clients, and reams of fabrics from which she could have curtains, or pillows, or bedspreads quickly made.
It wasn't long before it was her primary business.
Her mother got sick after that. Breast cancer. She fought hard, and won a reprieve, for a while. She assured Andi that moving to California with Brent, the man Andi thought she would marry, was absolutely the right thing to do.
Even when the cancer returned, spreading to her bones, then finally to her liver and lungs, she insisted that Andi stay in California. She knew that Andi had found a peace on the West Coast she had never found at home.
It was true that one week after landing in San Francisco, despite having spent her entire life on the East Coast, Andi knew that at heart she had always been a West Coast girl, through and through.
The sunshine! The warmth! How laid-back everyone was! San Francisco! The Pacific Coast Highway! The redwood forests! The wine country!
The list was endless.
Brent married someone else: in fact, the woman he had started sleeping with almost as soon as he began his new job in San Francisco, and Andi stayed, staging homes all over the East Bay.
Match.com was fun for a while, then disheartening. She always prepared for a date, terrified he wouldn't like her, that somehow, although she was blond, and green-eyed, and girl-next-doorish, they would be disappointed.
All of them wanted to see her again, but she rarely wanted to see them. Until Ethan. He seduced her with his open face, his wide smile, his easy charm. They had met for drinks, which had become dinner, and when he left to go to the bathroom, Andi had watched him walk through the restaurant with a smile on her face. He has a great butt, she found herself thinking, with shock.
He had been divorced three years. His little one, Sophia, was great, he said, but Emily was harder. His eyes had welled up as he talked about Emily — how much he loved his firstborn, how difficult this had been for her, and how he would do anything, anything, to bring her some happiness.
I will help you, Andi had thought, her heart spilling over for this sensitive, kind, loving man. One date led to two, led to them sleeping together, led to Andi realizing, very quickly, that for the first time in years, she could see herself spending the rest of her life with a man. With this man.
She could see herself building a life with him, having children with him. He was clever, and creative, and hardworking.
Ethan was supposed to have been a banker, he told her soon after they met. Or have run a large corporation. He was supposed to have done something that would make his parents proud, not to have started a landscaping business in school — merely to pay off his loan — a business that became so successful, so quickly, he had decided to devote himself to growing it once he had left school.
He'd started mowing lawns himself, paying a cheap hourly rate to Carlos and Jorge, who had recently made the arduous trek from Mexico.
"I was a clean-cut college kid with good ideas." He dismissed Andi when she said how talented he must have been. "And I was willing to work hard. That was all. I'd show up with some men to mow a lawn and start chatting with the homeowner, asking the wives if they'd ever thought of planting a lavender bed next to the path, or the husbands if they'd ever considered a built-in barbecue, or fire pit."
"I bet they always said yes." Andi's eyes sparkled in amusement.
Ethan just grinned.
He took on a mason, and by the time he had graduated from Berkeley, he had four full-time crews working for him.
When he met Andi, he had six. Now he has ten, plus a thriving landscape-design business.
Andi couldn't have imagined a more perfect man for her had she tried.
* * *
He cooked her dinner at his house in Mill Valley; during the appetizers she silently redesigned the whole place. She would remove the 1950s windows and replace them with French doors spilling out to a gravel terrace with olive trees and lavender.
The kitchen wall would come down, opening up into one great big kitchen/family room, a place where kids would be happy, a giant island with a host of kids lined up on stools, tucking into pancakes she would be happily flipping as the children laughed.
They would be, she thought, a great combination of the two of them. Would three children be too much to ask for? Five in total? She shuddered at the thought and reduced it to two. A boy and a girl. The boy dark, like Ethan, and the girl a towhead, much as she had been.
She tuned out Ethan for a while, so caught up in the fantasy, so convinced this would be her future, she couldn't think of anything other than how to create the house she had always wanted for the family she would now have.
Coming back to earth, she noticed there were photographs all over the house. Ethan and his girls, all of them laughing. Gorgeous girls, dark-haired, dark-eyed, who clearly adored their father. Andi had picked up one of the photos, Emily hanging around her father's neck with a huge grin, at around seven or eight years old.
Difficult? she thought, looking into the laughing eyes of the girl in the picture. No. She just needs love. She needs the security of a loving family, of brothers and sisters, of a stepmother who will love her.
Ethan didn't talk much about his ex-wife, which Andi liked, not being the sort of woman who needed to know everything. He had said that his ex was damaged, and cold. That he realized he couldn't carry on without affection, with the constant negative sniping, that he felt he might die if he stayed.
"How about the girls?" Andi had asked. "How is she with them?"
Ethan's eyes clouded over with sadness. "Distant," he had said. "And disinterested, although she would never admit it. She prides herself on not having a babysitter, on being there for her kids, but when she's not at work she's out with her drinking buddies."
Ethan had nodded.
"You didn't go for sole custody?"
"I wanted to," he said. "I tried. But she cleaned up her act for a while, and I agreed to joint. The girls want to be with me all the time, but she won't let them. She'll scream at them and guilt them into staying, even if she's going out."
"You can't do anything?" Andi was horrified.
He shrugged. "I'm doing the best I can. I'm trying to provide a loving, stable home for them, and they know they are welcome here all the time. They're both reaching ages where Brooke won't be able to control them, and if they want to stay here, she won't be able to stop them."
They need love, Andi had thought. Love, and care, and a happy family. And I will make them happy. I will create the home they have always wanted. I will create the perfect family.
* * *
Even when Emily had been rude, and difficult, and squinty-eyed that first meeting, Andi had known she could get through to her.
Children loved Andi. It helped that she looked vaguely like a fairy-tale princess, or at least, had the correct hair and eye color. She was fun, and bubbly, and cool, and kids had always gravitated toward her.
But Andi loved children more. As a little girl, she couldn't wait to be a mother. Couldn't wait to have a family of her own, wanted to fill the house with children. Ethan's already having two children of his own was a bonus, and when he said, initially, he would have more children, better still.
On their next family date, Ethan had made the mistake of quietly taking Andi's hand as they walked side by side, the girls walking in front of them, Emily scuffing the pavement as she walked, hunched over to hide the changes puberty was bringing her.
Emily had turned around briefly, and had seen them holding hands. Ethan dropped Andi's hand like a hot stone, but Emily came whirling back and literally, physically, shoved Andi aside and grabbed her father's hand.
Andi, shocked, waited for Ethan to say something, but he merely looked adoringly at his daughter and gave a resigned smile to Andi.
Other times there were tantrums. Many of them. Emily would explode in anger, with a rage that left Andi shaking in fear and bewilderment.
"I hate her," she would hear Emily scream. "She's ruined our life. Why? Why, Daddy? Why, Daddy? Why, Daddy? Whhhhhhhhyyyyyy?" Her voice would become a plaintive moan, rising to shrieks and wails. "If she stays, I'm going," she would shout.
Ethan, bewildered and guilty at his child's pain, would sit and talk her through as Andi sat alone in bed, quaking, wondering why no one stood up to this child, no one stated that this behavior was unacceptable. And then she understood.
Ethan was as scared of the screaming as she was.
Emily had all the power.
And yet ... and yet. Amidst the tantrums, the screaming, the slamming doors, and those first, tumultuous years, were moments of glory. Moments when Emily would come and sit next to Andi on the sofa and lean her head on Andi's shoulder, when Andi would feel herself overcome with love to the point of crying.
Moments when Emily knocked gently on the door of their bedroom and asked to snuggle. Ethan would be in the shower, and she and Andi would watch funny animal videos on YouTube, and giggle together, tucked up in bed.
Andi would take the girls shopping, and buy them anything they wanted, within reason. She spoiled them: American Girl dolls for Sophia, and cool teenage clothes for Emily. All Andi wanted was for them to be happy.
And to have children of her own.
They married two years ago and stopped using protection on their wedding night. Ironically, that was the first night Andi woke up drenched.
Her next period hadn't arrived, and she had never been late. Andi had run out to the pharmacy and come back with a pregnancy test, knowing the pink lines would indicate pregnancy. She peed on the stick with a huge smile on her face, staring at the stick in disbelief when it came back negative.
Twenty-four sticks later, all negative, her period came. She had looked at the blood and burst into tears, at a client's house, in the small half bathroom to one side of the mudroom. She hadn't wanted to come out, and the client had eventually knocked on the door and asked if everything was okay.
They kept trying. Several months later, Andi, who hated going to the doctor unless she thought she was truly dying, went to the doctor. The night sweats, she had decided, after spending an afternoon on the Internet on various medical websites, were cancer.
She wasn't sure which kind, but she was sure it was cancer. Ever since her mother's diagnosis, every ailment, every mole, every headache was something more.
It was the fear that always hung over Andi. A headache was never just a headache, it was a brain tumor. A stomachache was pancreatic cancer, and so on. Except Andi never actually went to a doctor about it, instead using the Internet as her unofficial diagnostician. She would convince herself she had something terrible but would not go and see a doctor, and after a few days, she would have forgotten about it entirely.
But these night sweats were bad. Usually whatever symptom it was she was worried about would go away, but this was happening more and more often.
"Will you just go to the doctor?" Ethan had finally said. "If nothing else, it will just put your mind at ease."
And so she had.
* * *
Dr. Kurrish had peered over her glasses at Andi and asked a series of questions. Had her periods changed? Yes, Andi had admitted. They either came every two weeks, or sometimes not for six, and when they did, they were shockingly heavy.
How were her moods? Dr. Kurrish had asked. Terrible, Andi had said, but that was largely due to a stepdaughter who hated her most of the time, who had started coming back drunk at fifteen (although she didn't actually tell the doctor that part), and to a husband who refused to do anything other than tell his daughter he understood her pain.
Excerpted from Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green. Copyright © 2011 Jane Green Warburg. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part One: Andi,
Part Two: Family,
Part Three: Parents,
Preview: Saving Grace,
Also by Jane Green,
About the Author,
Reading Group Gold,
Reading Group Guide
A Conversation with Jane Green
Q: How personal is this story?
A: I've always drawn from the themes of my life, and with a blended family myself, I started to look at other blended familiesparticularly the ones that came with real challenges. I remember reading that once you marry someone with children, you are destroying the myth carried by all children of divorce: that their parents will reconcile. Of course we have had our own challengeslife is complicated enough without the additions of steps, halves, exes, etc.and it isn't always easy, but when problems arise, we work through them, which Andi and Ethan, sadly, aren't able to.
Q: Why did you write this book?
A: I wanted to explore these issues on a personal level, and the more I read about stepparenting and what it is like to be a child of divorce, and the more people I spoke to, the more I realized how universal the themes are, even down to the language. Not all stepchildren scream, like Emily, "I hate you, you've ruined my life," but so many confessed that if they hadn't actually said the words out loud, they had thought them. As a stepmother myself who is trying to find her way, it seemed to make sense for me to tackle some of the issues that seemed so universal, although I will confess to being nervous. Luckily, all the characters emerged as their own people, particularly Emily.
Q: Have you been involved with blended families?
A: For the past five years, but I have long had friends who have had issues with steps, be they mothers or children. I was fascinated by a couple of things I read. One is that nobody wants to have a stepmother, and nobody wants to be a stepmother either. The other is that by marrying someone with kids, you are not only destroying the fantasy that the biological parents will reconcile, you are also taking more of that parent away from a child who has already experienced serious loss.
Q: How do you feel about blended families?
A: Clearly they are becoming more and more the norm, yet they are so much more challenging than people think. So often it seems women enter into blended families with huge naiveté. I heard countless women talk about how bemused they were that they had such a difficult relationship with their stepkids. They all walked in thinking they were good people, all they needed was to be loving and kind, and all would be well. And of course life is never that simple. Then there were the women who felt their husbands, or fathers, had to make a choice, with resentment setting in each time they felt he had chosen the other. I have discovered that it is essential that couples work together to form and present a solid bond and a united front to their children.
Q: Did you do any specific research for the book? What did you discover?
A: I mostly read, talked to friends, and lurked endlessly on stepparent forums. The stories I've come across are endlessly fascinating. Some stories are heartbreaking; others are wonderful and uplifting.
Q: What message would you like your readers to take away from this book?
A: The quote at the beginning about happiness being wanting what you've got is something I hope people take to heart. We all expend so much time and energy resenting people, places, and things we want to change, but of course the only person that ever needs to change is ourselves. Part of the Buddhist philosophy is that life is suffering, but the second, unspoken part is that pain is optional. How you react to the external things that happen to you dictates what kind of a life you have. Emily's pain was not about Andi, it was about Emily, and the same is true for Andi.
Q: How do you decide on a subject or theme for your books?
A: Usually by looking at what's going on around mein my life and the lives of my friends. Often there is something that fascinates me, which drives the story of the novel. A recurring theme seems to be that people show you who they want you to believe they are, yet how do you know who to trust? I'm working on a book now that has a husband who seems to be the all-around great guy, but who is harboring a secret that is about to destroy everything.
Q: Was this book easy or hard to write?
A: It was easier than some of the others, but these days it is never as easy as it was in the beginning, before children, husbands, and life got in the way. The book took off for me once I took my editor's suggestion and started writing in Emily's voiceit gave me such understanding and empathy for her character. If anything, I think I ended up preferring Emily to Andi, which I hadn't expected at all.
Q: Did you work on any alternate endings?
A: I never work on alternate endings. I may have a different ending written down on paper, but once I'm writing, and particularly toward the end of the book, the characters are so real to me they tell me where the stories will go.
Q: Do your characters determine the course of your plot? Or viceversa?
A: Every time I've tried to focus on plot rather than character, I've got myself into terrible trouble. I have always found that if I have drawn my characters correctly, they will tell their own stories, sometimes creating far more work for me. But as horribly pretentious as it sounds, once a character has spoken, you can't ignore it, unless you're prepared to live with the guilt for the rest of your life.
Q: And finallywhat does "motherhood" mean to you?
A: Intensity. The most intense joy, and pain, and happiness, and frustration, and sweetness, and hardship. I adore being a mother, and it has also forced me to face every aspect of my character, even those of which I am not so proud. I have the patience of a fruit fly, and motherhood brings out the best and the worst in me. But mostly it brings such a huge amount of wonder.
Q: You have a passion for cooking and decoratingand you have a love of making a house a home. Can you share with us your easiest, best ideas for making a family room a wonderful space, and can you share with us some of your best recipes for feeding a crowd?
A: I do love everything about the home, it's true, and I built my house around the fact that because it is always filled with kids and friends, it needed to be a place that everyone would walk into and feel instantly comfortable. My easiest tricks are lots of soft pillowsthey make even a hard sofa look invitingwith throws over the back of the sofa so kids can curl up, stacked books on the coffee table, and in between groupings of things you loveshells from the beach, candles, cute boxesanything looks great when it is a collection; trays that can turn stools and benches into tablesthen be easily removed for extra seating; different textures with natural elements: sisal rugs/stone pots/wood candle holders, baskets for storage. And my favorite is to cover sofas you hate with white canvas slipcovers.
As for recipes, for a crowd you want something that's easily prepared in advance so you can enjoy your guests. My fallback at the moment is a slow-cooked onion chicken. My father has been making it for years, and I just added paprika and garlic to give it some more flavor, but it's the easiest thing in the world. The onions brown, bringing out the sugars, turning the chicken a rich, sweet brown, and the chicken cooks to what is basically pulled-chicken, retaining all its moisture. This is what I cook for family and the friends who feel like family. For a more gourmet version I would probably add a bouquet garnish at the beginning to give it a more delicate flavora bunch of parsley stems, whole black peppercorns, thyme, and a bay leaf or twoand might serve it with a spoonful of sour cream or yogurt mixed with scallions and garlic. Serve with rice or orzo.
SLOW-COOKED ONION CHICKEN
* 1 tablespoon oil, either vegetable or olive, but NOT extra virgin, which should only be used for dressings
* 7 or 8 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
* 10 to 15 pieces of chicken, including dark meat (i.e., thighs and/or drumsticks), preferably with the bone for flavor
* 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
* Salt and pepper
* 3 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
Place oil in a large heavy pot over high heat, and add the onions, stirring constantly. Keep the heat high until the onions soften and start to brownyou want them to burn slightly. Meanwhile, season the chicken with paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Add the seasoned chicken and garlic to the onions and stir. Cover and simmer over low heat for two to three hours, stirring occasionally.
1. Jane Green's novel, Another Piece of My Heart, opens with an anonymous quote: "Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have." What exactly does this mean? How does it apply to Andi? To Emily? To other characters in the book? Would you say the quote applies to your life? How?
2. As the novel so vividly portrays, being part of a blended family can be extremely challenging. What are some of the mistakes Andi and Ethan make? What should they have done differently? What are some of the challenges that you and your own family have faced together?
3. From the beginning, Ethan's younger daughter, Sophia, is very accepting of Andi, while his adolescent daughter, Emily, is resentful and rude. When it comes to dealing with big issues like divorce and second marriages, do you think it's harder for younger children or for teenagers? How is it different, and why?
4. After five years of living together as a family, Andi still feels uncomfortable confronting or disciplining Emilymostly because Ethan is a defensive dad. Do you think most parents are overprotective and blind to their children's faults? Do you believe "it takes a village" to raise a childor it's none of your business? Have you ever given and/or received child-rearing advice? How did it go?
5. The author describes the relationship between Andi and Emily as "a pendulum swinging from love to hate." Have you experienced anything like that in your own family? Is it normal or acceptable for teenagers to "hate" their parents or stepparents? Should you simply wait for the child to "grow out of it" or try to actively deal with the problem? How?
6. Andi's neighbors tell her that "Ethan feels constantly guilty" about his divorce and its impact on his childrenwhich is why he lets Emily get away with so much bad behavior. Emily, in turn, seems to take advantage of his guilt. Have you ever felt guilty over something that affects your family? Have you ever felt manipulated by a loved one?
7. Andi notices some dramatic differences between the home she grew up in and the family she married intoespecially when it comes to setting "boundaries" with children. Do you think parenting has changed in recent years? Are parents more lenient today? Are children more spoiled? Would you raise a child the same way you were raised, or would you do it differently?
8. After Ethan tells Andi that he doesn't want to adopt a child, he feels her pull away from him, as if "a switch has been flicked" in their relationship. Is he justified in his feelings on the subject of adoption, or is he being selfish? Is Andi justified in her feelings? What sort of things can change the way you feel about a loved one?
9. Nearly halfway through the book, the author begins to write some of the chapters from Emily's first-person point of view. Why? How does each character's point of view play a role in the story? Which character's point of view do you relate to the most? Which character do you relate to the least?
10. Andi, Brooke, and Emily represent three types of mothers. How are they different? How are they alike? Does Emily have the right to call herself Cal's "mother" after leaving him with Andi for three years? Do you think Andi has a legal right to have full custody? And, at some point in the future, do you think Emily should be able to get her child back?
11. What does it mean to be a "real mother"?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was so great. The only part I disliked was the language as I am not fond of the F word, but the story was very realistic, honest, felt like you were part of the family as Emily went through her stages in life. I would tell any reader to get this book and definitely it's a keeper. So glad I read it.
I wasn't sure I would like this book but found it difficult to put down. It ignited a spark that let me know that good writing comes in many forms.
Seriously disappointed in this book. I would not be surprised to hear that Jane Green did not write this herself. The story was lacking any real depth and the character of Emily is so wishy washy that she came off as completely annoying. The story repeats itself numerous times because of the change of view point and I found myself flipping through several pages at a a time, not even stopping to read was was on them. I have read and enjoyed almost all of Jane Green's books but this one was way below her usual standards.
As a huge fan of Green's I was so excited to get my hands on her newest book. Another Piece of My Heart may be her BEST BOOK YET! As usual, Jane's characters are so believable and real, and with the addition of getting into the characters voices, I was really able to understand both sides of the story. I'm not sure which book the previous reviewers were referring to, but it certainly was NOT this one. I loved that this book took place in California, as I was able to relate to the feeling of living there. I think every woman will be able to relate to this story of wanting to be heard. Another home run Jane, can't wait to reread Another Piece of My Heart...
HER BEST ONE YET !! A riveting read from the first page is how I found "Another Piece of My Heart." This book tugged at all the emotions...I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. Great job, Jane -- keep writing and we'll keep reading!!
I was immediately pulled into the storyline. Today, it is very common for children to belong to blended families. Providing a glimpse into the story of one familly that is dealing with the effects of alcohol, drugs, teen issues, infertility, adoption, and trying to stay together. Told through the perspective of the step-mother, biological mother, teenager, and author, the reader is able to get a better understanding behind each character’s thoughts, behaviors, and motivations. Jane Green does a remarkable job at keeping the storyline authentic, as she covers real life issues, in a fast paced story. The story doesn’t seem bogged down or too water downed. There were times where it was difficult to understand and like some of the characters. However, Jane Green then shows the individual perspective of that particular character, and the reader soon can empathize with her, too. Reading from Andi’s perspective, the reader is able to truly understand her desire to have children, feel her pain each month that she finds out she isn’t pregnant, and feel her struggles as she tries to make peace with the oldest teen, Emily. However, Emily appears as this rebellious teen. As a reader, I could sense the anger and understand her frustration as she tries to keep the family together, be a wife and mother to her husband’s children, and struggles with her own issues of fertility. However, Emily often argues with her, is dismissive towards her and the family, appears to be a manipulator, and just an overall rebellious teen. Reading from Emily’s perspective gave the reader an opportunity to understand her motives, the struggle she has of dealing with an alcoholic mother, trying to fit in at school, feeling her father doesn’t listen to her, and seeing Andi as fake and wanting her father and younger sister without her being a part of the family. The family dynamics are truly realistic and it’s a story that gives a well rounded view of a blended family and it’s issues. I highly suggest this book to those who love contemporary fiction, reading about families, enjoy books told through multiple point of views, and deal with complex issues that aren’t always so black and white.
I absolutely adored Jemima J and I couldn't wait for another Jane Green book to come out, so I was so excited for Another Piece of My Heart. I have to so though, I am a little disappointed, especially in the way she writes. Very confusing at time, switches to the past for a couple of pages, then switches to the present and all that. Confusing characters too! Also, the writing is very hard to read. I like it when readers switch up their sentence structure/style every few sentences, but it is extremely repetitive with the short sentences. Like this. And this. And this. As for the plot, I definitely liked this because so many women can definitely relate to the many subjects Green brings up, such as stepchildren, menopause, infertility. But at times the conflict was repetitive which made the book a little tiresome and felt as if I read the book for days when I only read it for a few hours. I also wish she developed on some of the conflicts instead of ending them in such a bland way. And I wish she introduced the characters by weaving them in the novel; she kind of just threw character descriptions here and there. I honestly love the plot and it's extremely interesting, but it's just the new style of writing Green has adapted that I do not adore or find pleasant. The writing is very messy and repetitive! But I definitely think this is a great book to relate to and reflect on compared to her other novels. Not memorable, but not bad. Definitely good for a quick read, not something that I couldn't put down though.
Loved loved loved this book!
Jane Green's previous work is much better. The character in this book are so flawed, and their lack of wanting to heal and grow make themselves unlikeable.
I read at least a book a week and was looking forward to this one because the story sounded interesting. I managed to get to page 84 and couldn't stand another moment of torture. The lead character, Andi, was so annoying and whinny I couldn't take another page of her. I've not read this author before and won't be looking for her again. It reads like a novel written by a 14 year old. I have never seen so many coma's in a book in my life. Every sentence was loaded with coma's! I didn't care for the writing style.
I was looking forward to reading this author as this was my first book - it was bad! I kept waiting for it to speed it, as so slow moving, depressing, and actually was stressing listening to it (purchased on audio). I could not wait for it to end, as felt a total waste of my time and most likely will not be buying any more of her books in the future, if they are anything like this one. I may give her another shot, but there are so many good books and authors I adore, just do not waste your time with this one.
I really liked this book. Being a stepmom of two girls I felt like I could really relate to the main character. I also appreciated how realistic some of the content was.
it was an enjoyable read - finished in two days - but didn't think it was nearly as good as her other books.
I thought it was a great read!!! A little slow at first, but it picked up!!!
Loved the story, cried at the end. Couldn't wait to get back to the book and hated to put it down.
The first part of this book is told with third person narration from Andi's point of view. Her marriage to Ethan is basically perfect except when it comes to dealing with Ethan's spoiled seventeen-year old daughter Emily. Emily's behavior is abhorrent; she throws tantrums like a two-year old child because she is jealous of the attention that Ethan shows to Andi. Ethan feels so guilty about divorcing Emily's mother and not spending enough time with Emily that he lets her get away with murder. I actually felt really stressed out reading about Ethan and how he dealt with Emily. I wanted to reach in and shake Ethan and tell him to grow a pair!About a third of the way in, the narration switches to first person from Emily's point of view. I think this is done to help the reader generate some sympathy for Emily because up until that point I had none. It does help but Emily is still so selfish that it's really hard to feel bad for her. Also, I had to wonder if a seventeen year old was capable of being as introspective as Emily is at times. From this point on the narration switches back and forth between third person Andi and first person Emily. It sounds strange but it worked for the most part.Emily makes a huge mistake (I can't say what without spoiling the story) that impacts her whole family and puts even more strain on Andi and Ethan's marriage. This book and the relationships between its characters were so tense and strained that I felt tense just reading it. It could have used a lighter sub-plot or something to take some of the pressure off. It did seem to be a genuine portrayal of the stresses involved in a blended family though.Just as with every other Jane Green novel I've read, the editor seemed to make no effort to help Green with her American characters' dialogue. The characters in this book are all American, living in California but speak like Brits a lot of time - saying things like "proper" and "have a go". I guess I should come to expect this since this is the third Jane Green book I've read and the other two have had the same problem. It still bugs me though.I listened to the audio version of this book which was narrated by the author herself. I thought this was a really odd choice because Jane Green is British. I think that a book that takes place in America should be read by a narrator with an American accent, just like a book that takes place in England should be read by a narrator with a British accent. Green's narration gave all of the American characters British accents and she didn't vary her voice between characters much at all. It was very distracting. She also read at a very slow and dramatic pace which I think added to the stress of reading the book. It was filled with enough natural tension that it didn't need a dramatic narration.This was not the best Jane Green I've read. I think her die-hard fans will probably like it but if you are new to her I think you should pick a different book of hers to start with.
I really liked the premise of this book but ultimately I found much of it lacking. I couldn't figure out why Ethan was considered such a good husband. I get that he was torn between his wife and his daughter but his daughter's behavior was ridiculous.
A real family drama, centering on Andi, the second wife of Ethan and stepmom to his two daughters, Emily and Sophia. While Andi is able to connect with the younger daughter, Sophia, her relationship with the older girl, Emily is tumultuous. Ethan, caught in the middle, refuses to discipline Emily, afraid of losing her love. Adding fuel to the fire, the girls' mother Janice is an alcoholic who can't cope with the girls, and is resentful of Ethan's happiness.Confused and angry, seventeen year old Emily acts out in increasingly unsafe ways, until the family is shocked to discover that she is pregnant. Andi, who desperately longs for a child of her own, becomes Emily's strongest support through her pregnancy. The birth of Emily's child will push every member of this family to their limits. Will they fall apart, or pull together and learn to love each other?A galvanizing, fast read, Another Piece of My Heart is filled with heartfelt, imperfect people. They aren't always likeable, but they will remind you of real life.
Although Green's writing and subject matter is usually interesting and entertaining, this was not the novel for me. Blended families, snotty teenager, husband, who is said to be perfect but does not stick up for his wife, and a wife who always seems to be the victim was way to much drama for this reader. Although a different prospective is gained, somewhat by the end when we hear from the teenager herself, ultimately this was way to late to redeem this book for me.
I love Jane Green. Her books are such easy reads but still maintain complexity. Complexity is exactly what this novel delivers. The main character, Andi, is caught in a rough situation. Her husband, Ethan, has two daughters from his previous marriage. Andi embraces both girls. She longs to be a mother. She embraces the two girls even more when it turns out that Andi is unable to become pregnant herself. In addition to her fertility issues, Andi has another problem: her step-daughter Emily. No matter how she tries to show Emily that she loves her, there is no getting through to Emily. Emily chooses to see Andi as the enemy and actively tries to destroy Andi and Ethan's marriage.As if that weren't enough, at the age of 17, Emily turns up pregnant. Seven months pregnant before anyone, including Emily, knows that she is pregnant. Andi's struggle with Emily only increases. She cannot make Emily see how she cares while at the same time she is horribly envious of Emily being pregnant. And then there's Ethan. Ethan refuses to take a stand against Emily and the havoc she is causing in his marriage. How can they navigate the complex relationship challenges without destroying each other?I really couldn't put this book down. I expected to finish it much quicker than I actually did, but life got in the way of my reading. Green crafted such great characters. Andi is so sympathetic as the wife who is struggling with so many issues. Emily is sympathetic, too. I kind of wanted to hate her for all the trouble she was causing, but I just couldn't. When parts of the narrative are delivered by Emily and you get inside her head and emotions, it becomes nearly impossible to hate her. Ethan was very frustrating as a character. I just wanted him to take action already. Do something! But don't let these problems destroy you!The plot could easily have been a tired cliche, but it wasn't. There were many surprises hidden along the way, the biggest being Emily's pregnancy. Green used the great characters she had created to keep the tension and drama high, while still surprising you.I really enjoyed this novel. I highly recommend it. I also recommend any of Green's other works. I have not read a bad one yet!
This was a very uneven ¿read¿ for me. A lot of the story was told through flashbacks that really seemed to slow the pace. The first part of the story was told entirely from Andi¿s POV (third person), but after that, is would switch between her, her husband, her husband¿s ex-wife, and her oldest stepdaughter, Emily (and her narratives were in first person). Also, the audio book was read by the author who would put pauses in awkward spots and it took some time getting used to hearing. When the story was in a forward motion, I did enjoy it, and I will definitely check out more of Green¿s work.
This is a book about blended families and the tension between stepmothers and stepdaughters. As always, Green's style is casual, chatty, conversational and addictive. The stepdaughter was less charming. In fact, her character was so toxic at times that it was hard to read about her. Still, worth reading, especially for hardcore fans.
This is first time I have listened to a book by this author and it is the first time, as I understand it, that she has narrated her own book. Perhaps I would have liked it better if she had not been the author as the accent just destroyed any sense of reality in a book that had characters that had personalities that were certainly believable personalities, sadly common ones. She appears to be a popular author, but a story written so often in first person about California folks, and especially teenagers, was so unrealistic and actually annoyingly syrupy spoken in that British accent that I had to force myself to listen. I am not one to give up on a book, but it was difficult not to on this one.