Book Review – ‘Cross My Heart’ by Abigail Strom ~ 5 Stars!
This book was such a gem! I got it as a free ebook on amazon but I’d happily have paid full hardback RRP for it, because it was so wonderful.
This book was the first one of Abigail Strom’s stories that I had read, and as it is the second in the verse I can’t wait to download the others centred around the same family.
‘Cross My Heart’ is a heart-warming story of family, friendship and love, and it starts with a bang.
“I hate you.”
Michael Stone glanced over at the passenger seat, where his fourteen year old daughter slouched down with folded arms.
*shivers* Already I wince in sympathy. Having been a fourteen year old girl once I can easily relate to being overly dramatic and hormonal, but poor Michael. It can’t be easy knowing that your daughter hates your guts.
The back story reveals that Michael’s life revolves around his job as a surgeon, and despite his attempts to spend time with his daughter Claire, who lives with her Grandmother in another state, Claire doesn’t look like she’s planning to enter him into a ‘Father of the Year’ contest.
“Forget it, okay? Just forget it. I don’t know why I even try to make you understand. Just because you happened to contribute some sperm during the conception process doesn’t mean you care about me.”
Low blow really, but it’s clear already that Claire has some demons, and already I am yearning to know more about why Claire has such a deep dislike for her father.
Her mother, with whom Michael has an amicable divorce with ten years before, died in a car accident, leaving Claire in the care of her Grandparents. Something that Michael, despite his desire to have a good relationship with his daughter, has no imminent desire to change. As he believes he is far too busy to provide a proper home for his almost estranged daughter, who is clearly happy elsewhere.
“Then Claire reached out to turn on the radio, scanned quickly though the channels, and settled on a song that sounded as much like music as a bone saw. He put up with it for a few minutes before turning the radio off again.”
The differences between Claire and Michael hit me round the head, and immediately I want to see their relationship improved. But I know already it’s going to be a hard road if Michael can’t even listen to a few minutes of Claire’s favourite music.
In an amusing twist of fate, Michael’s next door neighbour happens to be Jenna Landry, “only the lead guitarist for the Red Mollies, one of the greatest all-girl bands in the entire history of rock and roll. At least until they broke up a few years ago.”
Michael’s assessment of the situation is one that all readers will agree with, even having only read 5 pages into the book.
The universe had sent his polar opposite to live next door to him, encased in the most beautiful body he’d ever laid eyes on.
As only a fourteen year old girl could do so well, Claire lays on the guilt as he explains that he’s never spoken to his neighbour, and desperate at trying to bridge the gap that has grown with his daughter in their absence, Michael desperately knocks on Jenna Landry’s door, hoping that she’d join them for dinner.
Jenna is fun, free and loves life. Staying in her Aunt’s house while she’s away on an extended holiday, Jenna feels unsure about being so close to home. Despite having a great relationship with her family, Jenna left home as soon as possible, wanting to explore the big wide world to her heart’s content, singing and playing guitar as she went. But since her younger sister’s death, the suggestions that she should live closer to home seems to weigh on her more, and worry seeps through her that she will end up being domesticated. Determined to keep her wild side, she is psyching herself up for her ex-bands reunion tour and hoping that it’ll bring a new direction to her life.
I loved Jenna from the start, seeing how normal she was, was greatly refreshing. So often we hear in the gossip columns about the big bad world of media and how actresses and musicians go off the deep end in a haze of fame, drugs and alcohol. Jenna couldn’t have been more the opposite. She shows us the side that the gossip columns don’t want us to know, the kind, fun and generous side to celebrities.
Having been shamelessly ‘oggling’ her next door neighbour Michael since she moved in, she is more than surprised when he asks her over to dinner in an attempt to help him win over his daughter.
And so begins a wonderful story of family, friendship and love all tied up together beautifully.
Jenna and Claire make it their mission to teach Michael everything there is to know about music, and despite his aversion to the idea at first, he soon finds himself immersed in a world of music that helps him understand and build a powerful relationship with his daughter.
As Michael and Claire’s relationship develops we also see a connection between Michael and Jenna, and I loved how Jenna and Michael realised that in order to have functional and loving relationships, they had to make sacrifices elsewhere in their life.
This story was a fantastic read. 5 stars and a definite recommended read.