Friday, June 10, 2011

My Foolish Heart by Susan May Warren

Isadora Presley is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. She had held her dying mother in her arms, surrounded by the flames of a burning automobile. Her father, the successful football coach of Deep Haven, now lies paralyzed in a care facility across town.
Traumatized, Issy stays in her home. While she has progressed to jogging around the block for exercise, she will not venture to the grocery store a few blocks away and it terrifies her to think of driving a car to see her father.
Yet Issy has a meaningful life. Unknown to anyone except her best friend, Issy is Miss Foolish Heart, host of a call in talk show about romance. She connects to the producer through broadcast facilities in her home studio.
Life has settled into a routine. Issy's friend and donut bakery owner Lucy helps her out with groceries and free donuts. And then everything changes.
Caleb Knight is a vet who has lost a leg in a fiery bomb attack in Iraq. With a prosthesis and training, he hardly limps. He is also the new football coach and psychology teacher at the high school. He has hidden the truth about his leg from the school board. He fears they would not have hired him. He wants to prove to them, and himself, that he can do the job.
He rents the house right next to Issy. These neighbors get off to a rocky start, Issy yelling at Caleb over the bad behavior of a dog she thinks is his. Then Issy makes a brave trip to the grocery store and “bumps” into Caleb. She sees his burn scars and loses her fragile confidence.
The situation becomes even more complicated when Seb, the high school flame of Lucy and hero of the football team, returns to Deep Haven. He has been hired as a math aid in the high school and he wants to be football coach. The school board proposes a scrimmage with the winning “coach” being hired.
Caleb, waiting to listen to his favorite sports roundup show on the radio, catches the last few minutes of My Foolish Heart. He is intrigued and becomes a regular listener. He even calls in to ask advice about how to win the heart of the girl next door. As the two strike up a dialogue, and begin to have feelings for each other, neither knows they are next door neighbors.

Warren drew me into this novel. I found myself wanting Caleb to succeed then feeling for Seb, too. Seb has come a long way and deserves a chance at life. I felt for Lucy as she struggles to overcome the hurt Seb caused years ago. I felt for Issy as she is trapped in her house by panic attacks. I laughed at the You've Got Mail kind of situation, but here, neither know the true identity of their dialogue partner. I felt for Lucy when the holder of her mortgage and old rival of Seb for her affection in high school decides to foreclose. I read in suspense as the all important scrimmage progressed, Caleb's world falls apart and only Issy, with her father's secret play, can rescue him.
Warren has crafted a very good novel about traumatic hurts and how they can be overcome. The struggles she portrayed are realistic. The Christianity of the characters is well done. Her character development is awesome – I felt like I really knew these people as I cheered them on. Five stars for this great story. A discussion guide at the end of the book makes it a good choice for reading groups.

I received a copy of this book from The Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of the publisher for the purpose of this review.

Buy the book from CBD.

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