Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Review: Before My Actual Heart Breaks, by Tish Delaney


Before My Actual Heart Breaks, by Tish Delaney. Fiction. Random House, 2021. 

Set in Northern Ireland in the latter years of the Troubles, Before My Actual Heart Breaks tells the story of Mary Johns née Rattigan, a woman we meet as a young girl beginning to dream about what life has to offer. Her dreams are cut short and Mary spends precious time alienated and resentful, watching her life take place in front of her, wondering how it will all turn out in the end. By the time she realizes what life has actually given her, it may be too late.

Before My Actual Heart Breaks is a story about family, growing up, and how to make a life when the life you wanted is snatched away and what is left may or may not be what you want. It's about taking joy in the everyday and the power of love to redeem our darkest hours and deepest disappointments. I wasn't sure where it was going at first but the book took some turns I didn't expect and I found it almost compulsively readable once it got going. It's moving and bittersweet, laced with genuine suspense and action, despite being mostly character-driven. The place and time are also vividly rendered- the countryside of Northern Ireland, the impact of the Troubles on everyday people, the details of everyday farm life at the time

I really enjoyed this book and would strongly recommend it to readers interested in the obvious topics but also to anyone who would enjoy a detailed and moving character study of a woman as she moves from girlhood to womanhood, and watching the ebbs and flows of an ordinary life. I won't forget it any time soon.

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.

No comments: