Heartfelt but rambling.
Synopsis of From My Heart to Yours by Michelle Zarrin: Sofia, a young woman from a sheltered upbringing, is in for an unexpected ride when she marries Earl. As their stable union twists unnervingly through health issues, betrayal and shattered hearts, Sofia sheds layers of naivete, deepening her perspective of life. Beautiful life lessons learned from preschool children may heal her scars but can they help her to endure the greatest tragedy of all? This story offers a powerful and inspiring journey into the soul.
My two centsThis is based on a true story and is about a life that was changed, first because of circumstance, and the second time around, because it was so willed. Sofia and Earl fall in love and marry. After an unfortunate skiing accident, Earl suffers pain and succumbs to the solace he finds in painkillers ... hiding, denying, until it spins out of control and Sofia discovers his addiction.
Sophia strives to rebuild a life of normalcy, with the help of her family and friends, away from the toxic and destructive relationship that was her marriage. She gets a new job with preschool children and rediscovers the beauty and peace of simplicity. Meditation, yoga and clean living become Sophia's saving grace.
I liked:This is a very realistic depiction of a loving relationship that is challenged and later destroyed by drug addiction: the warning signals, the erratic behaviour, the inevitable spillover into other aspects of married life, and the destructive impacts not only on the husband-wife relationship but also within the family circle.
I also appreciated how Sofia's family was portrayed -- a very tight-knit family that supported each other amidst turmoil, betrayal, loss and death. We need to hear more about families helping each other out.
While this is an honest and obviously heartfelt story, I think it may have better been marketed as a memoir instead of a novel.
I probably would've been more forgiving about the long-windedness, the muddied storyline, and the oh-so-many distracting details about the couple's travels and where they've lived. I also felt the writing was roundabout, stilted and awkward, and I somehow got the impression that English may not be the author's first language. The descriptions I felt were were unnecessarily overly flowery and just made me go huh? sometimes.
"At Saks and Bergdorf Goodman, superlative, exquisite, imaginative art surrounded the mannequins wearing the designer clothes [..]" - p. 38(my comment: can we throw in a few more useless adjectives?) or
"As the couple was seated, with large menus reflecting the large selection of American food, Sofia marveled at the beguiling and alluring atmosphere they were sitting in." - p. 55(my comment: using "large" within words of each other? and what exactly is a "beguiling and alluring atmosphere?") or
"At other times she felt claustrophobic, as if she was paddling in a sea, barely keeping her head above water, waiting for a calmer change in tide." - p. 57(my comment: I think Zarrin may have her metaphors mixed up here, claustrophobia isn't associated with wide open spaces like the sea!)
Another interesting layer which I personally thought would resonate more with me was the transformative role of meditation and yoga. The novel touched on how Sofia turned to clean and healthy living, took yoga classes, and culminated in a retreat to learn Vipassana meditation. In the novel I felt that it was treated as band-aid to a bigger problem, and the last chapter became a blow-by-blow of the technique . It seemed to make a huge impression on Sofia, but unfortunately didn't really make much of an impression on me. To each his own, I guess.
Verdict: A heartfelt novel about a woman who gets dragged into the tumultuous world of marriage and life affected by drug addiction. If you're interested in meditation and yoga, you will get a nice little taste of its benefits.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.