Book Review: Hearts Made Whole

Read on for more about Jody Hedlund’s Hearts Made Whole!

Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund - a book review on #reading

A description of the book from the publisher:

After her father’s death, Caroline Taylor has grown confident running the Windmill Point Lighthouse. But in 1865 Michigan, women aren’t supposed to have such roles, so it’s only a matter of time before the lighthouse inspector appoints a new keeper–even though Caroline has nowhere else to go and no other job available to her.

Ryan Chambers is a Civil War veteran still haunted by the horrors of battle. He’s been given the post as lighthouse keeper, and the isolation where he can drown in drink and hide from his past is appealing. He’s not expecting the current keeper to be a feisty and beautiful woman who’s none-too-pleased to be giving up her position. They both quickly realize he’s in no shape to run the lighthouse, but Ryan’s unwilling to let anyone close, ravaged by memories and guilt. Caroline’s drawn to this wounded soul, but with both of them relying on that single position, can they look past their loss to a future filled with hope…and possibly love?

As usual, my five point review:

  • This book was hard to put down! I read it in less than two days, and it only took that long because I had to work one of those days. Yes, contrary to popular opinion, librarians don’t get to just sit around and read the day away. 🙂 That would be nice though! If you find that job, please let me know. Anyways, Jody Hedlund once again gives us a compelling, thrilling, and poignant novel. From the start, I was captivated by Ryan and Caroline and their individual [and soon to be shared] predicaments.
  • Let’s begin by talking about Caroline. Can I just say that I could NEVER imagine being in her shoes? Losing both parents, figuring out how to care for and provide for four siblings [including a very sick sister] on her own, and working a [more than] full time job as a woman in a male-dominated profession. Oh, and the majority of the men in her profession are trying to run her out. I cannot even imagine! But she handles her life with grace and dignity, working hard even when she thinks that she will inevitably be kicked out of her home and left with no where to go. She has to make some hard choices–even considering marrying out of convenience and fear in order to provide for her siblings. I realize that my/our cultural context for this, especially in middle/upperclass America, is very lacking, but I know that this happens even today in many parts of the world [America included] and it is just crazy to imagine. But even so, Caroline doesn’t face life dragging her feet or whining, but doing what she can for her family. Really inspiring, even if I know that won’t be my life ever.
  • Now Ryan. Ohhh Ryan! Like veterans from wars past and present, Ryan returns from the Civil War broken–physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He’s a flawed character yet beneath the surface, there’s something more. It is in that something that Caroline and Ryan can unite to provide what the other needs. Ryan struggles with drug and alcohol addiction throughout the book, and once again the author handled this timeless theme well. Today we have so many resources to help in those situations, but not so in the 1800s. So it was interesting [and SAD] to consider the cost of addiction in that day and age. I won’t spoil the end, but as you probably have expected, Ryan’s comeback was pretty phenomenal.
  • The setting of this book was amazing–historically, as well as situationally. I didn’t know about the history of women working in the Michigan lighthouse industry, nor about the importance of lighthouses on the Great Lakes over time. Neat stuff!
  • Overall, I loved this book. Probably my only complaint is that the cover was a bit weird. It didn’t seem to connect with the story at all and detracts from the loveliness of the book. It had a little bit of everything–romance, family, mystery… and was engaging from start to finish. Plus, it wasn’t one of those historical fiction novels that feels ancient. This felt accessible and enjoyable. Highly recommend!

What are you reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to Bethany House for the chance to read this great book!