Saturday, November 18, 2023

The Key to My Heart

The Key to My Heart
  The Key to My Heart
Author:  Lia Louis
Publication Information:  Atria / Emily Bestler Books. 2022. 352 pages.
ISBN:  1668001268 / 978-1668001264

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "I know exactly who Lucy's going to choose."

Favorite Quote:  "As much as they're lovely, houses are just - houses. But your life - not so much. So, I say live in the way that you want to."

Natalie is a young widow. Her husband died suddenly in an accident two years before the book begins. Natalie is a musician who is now unable to write or play music. Her grief is her entire life. The one exception to that is a piano at a London train station. Natalie finds solace in playing that one instrument. She continues to feel anonymous in the middle of the hustle and bustle of a train station. She plays only for herself, unaware the impact her music has on those around her. Her wish is to remain invisible, enveloped in her memories.

Sheet music that represents important moments in her and her husband's life begins showing up at this piano. It is clearly left there for her to play. A sign from the beyond? Something else? Who? Why? At first, Natalie just plays. Then, the mystery of the sheet music provides an anchor and an incentive for Natalie to do more and to investigate how this music appears.

Lia Louis's first book Dear Emmie Blue is about a woman reckoning with the impact of a traumatic childhood event, a friendship whose conclusion the reader sees coming way before Emmie does, and a cast of mostly endearing characters. The book does incorporate serious issues including abuse and an unhealthy relationships. Yet, the book ends up a sweet, feel good story about the power of love and friendship.

Eight Perfect Hours works in somewhat the same way. The serious issues in this book include a young accidental death, depression and mental illness, caregiving, and aging. Once again, as the reader, I see the conclusion well before it arrives. Once again, the book ends up more about the power of self discovery, friendship, and the courage to live your life.

This book goes about where you would expect it to. There is definitely a "who" responsible for the music. The serious issue of this book is a journey of learning to live with grief, but to live and find joy nevertheless. Once again, the ending is clear to the reader pretty early one. So, at times, the book seems to take a long while getting there. The story is sad and bittersweet. 

Some lists have this book labeled as a romance. There is a romance in the book, but this book is much more about grief and healing. The main takeaway is that grief is an individual journey. It does not and cannot conform to the expectations of family or friends. It is a path to healing.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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