Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Book Review – In Every Heartbeat, by Kim Vogel Sawyer

I’ve been putting off writing this review for ages because I just don’t enjoy writing negative reviews.  In Every Heartbeat, by Kim Vogel Sawyer is presented this way in the synopsis from the publisher:
“As three friends who grew up in the same orphanage head off to college together, they each harbor a special plan for the future.  Libby Conley hopes to become a famous journalist.  Pete Leidig believes God has called him to study to become a minister.  And Bennett Martin plans to pledge a fraternity, find a place to belong and have as much fun as possible.  But as tensions rise around the world on the brink of World War I, the friends’ differing aspirations and opinions begin to divide them, as well.
When Libby makes a shocking discovery about Pete’s family, will it drive a final wedge between the friends or bond them in ways they never anticipated?”
In reading the book, I found very little of WWI ever mentioned, and it certainly did not play as strong of a role in the plot as I had assumed and hoped.  This was disappointing.

I also found the story hard to get into, and I really had to force myself to finish it.  The characters did not “feel” real.  Libby especially was a bit unreal.  Apparently we are supposed to believe that she grew up as more of a tomboy than a “girly-girl” (the type of girl she disdains on every other page in the beginning of the book); however, she is constantly on the brink of tears, rolls her eyes an awful lot, has stomach flutters as she reads a romance story, does some angry stomping off, has a few cute temper tantrums, and all in all behaves like a young, and pretty immature, girl

I may digress here a bit, but I really wonder about books like this with young women who are not happy being women and seem to think other women (who act “girly”, which honestly is not great either if “girly” means silly and mindless) are somehow less than men.  I’m not sure it sends a healthy message to the young ladies who might read this book and other books like this.  It would be wonderful to have a female character who aspires to great heights but remains okay with her femininity at the same time.  Anne of Green Gables comes to mind… in my opinion Libby is nothing like Anne, although I suppose she does mature a bit in the end, and perhaps we are meant to believe that she becomes more wholly herself, comfortable with both her ambition and her femininity.  Let’s hope so.

{I do think, after some reflection, that at a younger age (most likely the age this story was written for), I would have “connected” with Libby a bit more and would have even found parts of this book inspirational.}

Another problem I had with this book is that it gets a little “preachy” about romance stories – which is a bit strange, when you see that this is basically a romance novel – and, in the context of the story, opines that perhaps they aren’t the best reading material for young minds.  But then you have Libby “aware” of the nearby presence of one of the male characters; and there’s a lot of “husky voices” and “senses thrumming”, as well as embraces and long kisses.  I mean, is this not the same kind of thing?  Romance is in part these physical feelings… good grief, it has to be since we are human beings in physical bodies.  I don’t think gratuitous descriptions of romantic encounters is great – among other things, it usually makes for pretty bad writing – but pretending that the physical aspect of romance doesn’t exist or isn’t “right” is just… strange, in my opinion.  Libby begins writing these kinds of stories, and from what I could tell her stories weren’t much worse than the book itself in describing the romance between characters.  For the record, the scenes were not gratuitous at all, in either the book or the stories Libby wrote.  However, a little romance is a little romance is a little romance, and reading about it conjures up certain feelings, so why preach against them in the same book?  That was very odd for me and something that I couldn’t get past (obviously).

This is the only book I’ve read by this author.  I do plan to read others and, from what I’ve heard, look forward to a better reading experience than I had with this particular one.

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.


  1. I remember seeing this book in the email from Bethany House and it really didn't catch my eye then. I am now glad I chose Masquerade instead, as I really enjoyed that one.
    Sorry you didn't care for this book. I understand your concerns with it. You make some good points.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to read and review IN EVERY HEARTBEAT. I am sorry that you found much of the story disappointing. Obviously, it's never a writer's intention to let down a reader! Sometimes a writer's purpose doesn't connect with every reader, and I'm sorry that proved true with you. I do hope, though, that you will give some of my other books a try--perhaps one of them will be more to your liking. :o)


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