Heart of the Matter

I recently read Heart of the Matter, by Emily Giffin. It is the fifth book she has published, and in my opinion, it is another success. I do not believe that this was my favorite of her books, but even so, I enjoyed it, and it was definitely thought provoking.

One of the unique characteristics of Emily Giffin’s writing is that all her books are connected in some way, but they all can stand alone as well. All of the characters are connected, whether it be that the main character in this book cheated with her best friend’s fiance in that book, or maybe the character’s friend shows up in another book because he works with another character, etc. In this book, one of the main characters, Tessa Russo, is the sister of Dex, one of the main characters in the author’s first book. Anyway, moving on…

The book is told from the alternating view points of two women, Tessa and Valerie, which was definitely interesting at times.

Tessa Russo is the wife of renowned pediatric surgeon Nick Russo, and having recently given up her career, the new stay-at-home mom of their two young children. Definitely sounds like the perfect life to me, but Tessa can sometimes be too concerned about what the neighbors think, and how she measures up to the other Mommies. Her mother, who also gave up her career to be a stay-at-home mom, continues to offer her opinions to Tessa as to why it was a bad idea to give up her career. She continuously tells Tessa that it was a reason for her own divorce from Tessa’s father as she wasn’t as interesting, etc.

Valerie Anderson is a single mother, an attorney who is doing her best to raise her son Charlie. Her gay twin brother is the only constant male in her son’s life and does his best to help Valerie raise his nephew.

The book begins when Nick and Tessa are out to dinner to celebrate their anniversary. Of course, Nick didn’t switch his on call shift with another physician, so when he is paged in the middle of dinner, it cuts their date short. Tessa has always tried to be understanding of Nick’s career and tells herself that someone else needs him more at those moments that he’s helping injured children.

When Nick arrives at the hospital, he finds a badly burned child, Charlie, awaiting his expertise. Valerie, Charlie’s mother, finds comfort in Nick’s words and assurances that her son will be, and is, beautiful. With the instincts of a doctor, Nick wants to help Charlie, but those instincts quickly turn into something more. It’s almost as if he wants to save both Charlie and Valerie while casting aside the life he has made with the woman he, supposedly, loves.

This book was completely predictable in the plot, but not as much so in the resolution. Nick finally realizes that he really does love Tessa and that he’s hurt her in a way that most women can’t even imagine. After a few weeks of separation and not taking Nick’s calls, both of Tessa’s parents take her out for her birthday. This scene in the book was one of my favorites. Tessa’s divorced parents finally talk about the issues that ruined their marriage and Tessa realizes that she can forgive Nick, even if she can’t immediately trust him again.

I was left with a feeling of confusion after reading this. Mostly because the author made me think, “What if?” What if my husband did something like that? How would I react and what would I do? I honestly can’t imagine that. I think I probably would have behaved as Tessa did, kicking him out, claiming that I couldn’t stand the sight of him. However, I would probably also forgive him, (assuming he was sincerely sorry and groveling),¬†and take him back as well. I love him too much to be without him. But that was all a hypothetical consideration, as my husband has said that he’s “too lazy” to cheat. (He was joking of course. Lazy isn’t the reason…)