Carter, Eva. Owner of a Lonely Heart. Dell, 2023. 416 pp ISBN 978-0593158913. $16.99
This interconnected story centers around a hospital, where widowed Gemma and her big Bear provide therapy for cancer patients in between her freelance art career; where Casey is getting a month’s worth of proton treatment to reduce her brain tumor, Bob; where Gemma meets a handsome kind man named Dan who is parenting his 12-year old for the first time as she goes through a second round of cancer treatment.
Told in multiple points of view, we hear Gemma and Dan’s voices more than Casey. We also hear from Gemma’s husband Alexander who has left behind a book he wrote and illustrated for their as yet unborn child. Alex, a puzzle fan, claims to have a final puzzle for Gemma to unravel, and that still weighs on her mind as she goes through a third round of IVF with their frozen embroyos. Dan angsts about his past and the pains he’s taken to make something respectable of himself, but isn’t willling yet to make himself vulnerable to the women he is coming to care about, or to his ex, Angelica, who has mental health issues and thinks the worst of him after twelve years of single parenting.
More of a novel with romantic elements than a romance novel, themes of family, parenting, and nature/nurture emerge through the three stories. Cancer, mental health and infertility are treated with sensitivity, but I would have liked to see more help for Casey’s mom, whose over the top dramatic responses to the simplest things verge on paranoia and neurotic. I
Spoiler alert (highlight to read): I was also left confused by the concept that hot air balloon would not be a risky choice to consider for a newly and possibly precariously pregnant person.
I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #OwnerOfALonelyHeart from #NetGalley.