Another review on a title courtesy of Audiobook Jukebox.
Publisher: Macmillan Audio, Pub. Date: March 13, 2012, Length: 13 hours, 43 minutes
Another Piece of My Heart is the latest in Jane Green's string of relationship fictions. Here, Andi is a stepmother who desperately wants a baby, but has entered menopause and the odds are against her. Meanwhile, her oldest stepdaughter, Emily, has dealt with the fallout from the divorce and her alcoholic mother by jumping on a goth / booze / drugs / sex teenage carousel, and is in no hurry to get off. Her dad Ethan is constantly in the middle of his manipulative daughter and his outraged wife.
I'm as fond of Green's reads as the next middle aged suburban mother, and there were times that this very much grabbed me by the tearducts and refused to let go. (True story: when I was an infant, I couldn't cry. I believe I had dacryostenosis. I think the doctors did something involving a probe and my tear ducts, which I'd rather not think about. And my kids will tell you that I've been crying at fiction pretty much ever since.)
But my point is, I spent far more time yelling at the characters in this novel than in crying over them. It wasn't a good ratio. I give Green credit for the efficacy with which she managed her POV shifts - just when I was ready to give up on, say, Andi, Green would switch to Ethan and through his eyes, Andi would become sympathetic again. I don't really like that roller coaster, though - especially since so few of the characters really grew in this novel. Six years after it opened, and very near the end, the hot-button issues and emotional triggers were just as problematic, even when the characters identified for themselves what the issues were. No one could communicate, and it drove me batty.
I don't think it's a bad book. Green writes very smoothly, and she had a firm grasp on each main character, even if they did seem to be frozen in place, emotionally. I wish she'd given a lot more weight to younger sister Sophia's perspective - she was the most interesting character in the novel, but she served entirely as a reflector against whom everyone else occasionally examined their own actions.
I do very much wish I'd read it in print, or that Green hadn't narrated it herself. While Green has a quite pretty voice, and she clearly understands the import of the words she's reading aloud, she was not a good narrator for this. Her London accent didn't sit well on the Californian family, and she doesn't have the knack of differentiating characters by applying separate speech patterns. If I ignored the context, any given section of this multiple-POV novel could have been Ethan, Andi, Emily, or part of the (of course fabulously friendly, sympathetic, good at entertaining and loving towards the children) gay couple next door. It's the difference between story-time and narration, and having heard several Jane Green's books on audio with professional narrators, I was surprised and, ultimately, disappointed that she read this one herself.
If you haven't read any Jane Green, and want a 'beach read' - try Dune Road, which is funnier, or Babyville, which is better at motherhood musings, or The Other Woman, which doesn't make me wonder if the family relationships Green writes about are pulled from a statistical analysis of a Troubled Family Advice Column Database somewhere.