Although I have never heard of Kristin Harmel before, I received her most recent novel The Life Intended for review and let me tell you, I am beyond thrilled that I read this book.
A description of this book from Goodreads is as follows:
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.
What can I say about Kristin Harmel except the fact she is an amazing writer? It’s very rare I feel such a connection to a book, and this was one of them. The main character, Kate, does not have an easy life. She suffers much tragedy and sadness. There is nothing cliché in this book about loss, acceptance, and moving on. Harmel does a great job showing how messy life can be and how sometimes, no matter how much time has passed since a huge loss, you still cannot move on. This story is heart wrenching at times, especially for anyone who has lost someone or who has expected their life to be different than the one they have.
The best part of this book, besides watching Kate’s journey into accepting her dreams as an alternate reality of what her life could have been and as a message from her late husband, was how much time and research Harmel put into making sure her description of the NY foster care system was authentic. I am a foster parent and writer myself and there’s nothing more I appreciate in an author than authenticity, and doing it in such a way so as to not sound boring or trite. She does a great job explaining the process in which we foster parents go through to get accepted into the system, the heartbreak of knowing kids need homes, and the reward that comes from helping children.
I consider myself to be somewhat of a book snob (not in a bad way but in a way where I prefer to be moved or impacted by a book, not just read a book to waste time) and this book was beyond amazing. I loved this book so much I felt inclined to send Kristin an email yesterday, thanking her for taking the time to research and write in such a way that was authentic and real. To my surprise, she emailed me back right away! We exchanged a few emails and she is just as good of a person as she is a writer. She is a wonderful woman and writer and I am so happy this book was sent to me for review. I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads and I am very eager to read anything else she has written.