The Heart Begins Here, a review by Tanya

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The Heart Begins Here
By Jacqueline Dumas
Narrator Michelle C. Smith

6 hours 15 min
Published Aug 2020 by ECW Press Audio
LGBTQIA | Literary Fiction | Women’s Fiction

Amazon | Goodreads

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If you like books written in an angry voice, this is the book for you!

Sara and Wanda are a couple. The story focuses mostly on their relationship, or the demise of it. Sara owns a lesbian feminist bookshop and I had hoped that most of the story would have this bookshop as the central background, but it doesn’t. There are a few parts of the story that focus on this setting but they are actually a bit boring and were not my favorite parts.

I listened to the audiobook version and after the first couple of chapters, I thought that I didn’t prefer this narrator as she sounded so angry and it was very off-putting to me. A few more chapters in and I realized it wasn’t the narrator that was angry, it was the way the story was written. Ok. A different perspective is ok, so I continued on.

I noticed a few things that bothered me. Wanda and Sara are a horrible couple. There didn’t appear to be any reason why they were together as a couple and certainly, as the story goes along, there are lots of reasons why they shouldn’t be.

Also, Wanda is a horrible person. She’s a lesbian that hates men, hates other lesbians that are not like herself, hates trans, hates….pretty much everyone. A woman who expects better of others but will do and say things just like the people she hates. A character to dislike, for sure.

Additionally, the story unfolds as Sara remembers back on past experiences or brings in future events to explain a current situation. It felt like even when we were in the present, I kept expecting a past or future ‘pause for explanation’ to occur around every corner.

Finally, the overall backdrop of 9/11 in this story didn’t make any sense to me. It didn’t affect anything directly with the story or the characters and I have no idea why it was mentioned several times within the story.

I’m very supportive of LBGTQIA stories in mainstream reading. I hate to knock one down with a review but this story would have been a miss for me whether it was a straight couple or a gay couple, no matter. On to the next book!

Thank you to #NetGalley for providing this book. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy and all views expressed are only my honest opinion.

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