December 31, 2014

Your One Wild & Precious Life

The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel

Release Date: December 30, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster | Gallery Books
Pages: 368 pages
Source & Format: NetGalley; e-ARC
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Summary (from Goodreads)
In this richly told story where Sliding Doors meets P.S. I Love You, Kristin Harmel weaves a heart-wrenching tale that asks: what does it take to move forward in life without forgetting the past?

After her husband's sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Waithman never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she's planning her second walk down the aisle to a perfectly nice man. So why isn't she more excited?

At first, Kate blames her lack of sleep on stress. But when she starts seeing Patrick, her late husband, in her dreams, she begins to wonder if she's really ready to move on. Is Patrick trying to tell her something? Attempting to navigate between dreams and reality, Kate must uncover her husband's hidden message. Her quest leads her to a sign language class and into the New York City foster system, where she finds rewards greater than she could have imagined.

Thoughts on The Life Intended
I've never read anything by Kristin Harmel before, and The Life Intended wasn't on my radar. But when I got an email from a publicist about it, I was intrigued. The comparison to Sliding Doors and P.S. I Love You caught my attention, as did the blurb from Emily Giffin. I figured I might as well give it a shot.

Well, I'm so happy that I did! The Life Intended was such a pleasant surprise. Kate and Patrick were meant to be together, but that forever has been cut short. Patrick dies in a tragic accident, and Kate grieves that loss every day after. She doesn't expect to find love again. But, more than ten years later, she's finally ready to commit to Dan. Everyone thinks he's perfect for Kate, so why is she having doubts? And, more importantly, why is she suddenly seeing Patrick everywhere? She begins having vivid dreams showing her what her life would have looked like if Patrick hadn't died. And Kate begins to wonder if Patrick is trying to tell her something - and if she's living the life she was intended to have.

I may have started The Life Intended with doubts, but I ended up losing myself in this story of loss, grief and healing. It was a bit predictable, but that didn't lessen my enjoyment while reading it. I liked the idea of a parallel life and of Kate getting to see what her future would have held if Patrick hadn't died. It was bittersweet - a reminder of all the twists and turns life can take. And when Kate starts to take action because of the dreams, I was cheering her on. She enrolls in sign language courses, investigates the New York City foster care system... she begins to finally LIVE because of what she's seeing in the dreams.

Kate frustrated me at times, but only because I cared about her. She's so firmly entrenched in her grief, in all that's she lost, and there were moments I was desperate for her to move forward. When she finally begins to, it was bittersweet. It's obvious that Harmel did her research for this book. I loved what I learned about music therapy, sign language and foster care. This book could have easily felt like something that had "been done before," but those aspects of the story made this feel like a unique and refreshing read. I loved how the dreams intertwined with reality and how the life Kate was intended to have impacted the one she'd ended up living.

The Life Intended could easily have ended up being a sad, somber read. Instead, it was hopeful and emotional one! I read it quickly - captured by Kate's story and curious about how the different threads of this book would be resolved. I'm so glad I took a chance on this book, and I look forward to reading more by Harmel in the future. She's a great storyteller - taking something that could have easily felt cliché and making it a rich and heartwarming read. I think this is a book that would work for a variety of readers, so I can see myself recommending it a lot in the future!

So Quotable
"I knew before I met you... that I was meant to be yours."
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.

3 comments:

  1. This is intriguing and I love the cover! I've had Harmel on my radar for a few years . . . might finally be time to check her out.

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  2. I won a copy of this one without knowing really anything about it. And I have to say, after you're review, I'm guessing I'm going to need to pick it up sooner rather than later!

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  3. The Life Intended sounds amazing, Hannah! I really do think this novel is the type of adult fiction I would personally enjoy, so it definitely went straight onto my TBR. But seriously, the concept is pretty great, the themes are even more awesome, and I love hearing that you were super invested in this main character! Definitely going to have to check this one out soon!

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