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May 18, 2024

Our Kept Hearts by Tennille Marie ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

A heart-warming coming-of-age debut novel where sisters learn that even motherless daughters must grow up and become women one day.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of historical fiction novel Our Kept Hearts by Tennille Marie
November 2023; Purple Iris Printing; 978-1962329019
audio, ebook, print (354 pages); historical fiction

This fantastic coming-of-age story begins in 1953 in rural Arkansas.  It beautifully reflects children's lives at that time and the three main characters all reminded me of friends that I had growing up in this time period.  It's a book full of family and love and learning to overcome bad situations and find happiness in life.

Hazel was 9 and her sister Ruthie was two years younger when their mother decided to leave the family because she wanted more out of life.  Hazel was devastated at the loss of her mother while Ruthie was more angry than sad.  Their dad worked out of town so they spent their summer days taking care of themselves and spent a lot of time in the woods exploring and learning about nature.  They don't realize it at first, but there is a young boy living in a nearby house.  He lives with his abusive alcoholic father and struggles to get through his days without getting beaten by his father. He meets the two girls in the woods and they quickly become friends.  Joel is the same age as Hazel and the three kids bonded together.  We get to know the kids so well through their interactions with each other that they feel like real friends.  The story covers their lives from 1953 to 1962.  As they grow up, their relationships ebb and flow -- school problems, Joel's father's abuse, first loves and losses...but despite what was going on, their friendship remained strong.  It was especially interesting to read about the fear of Communism and nuclear bombs that gripped America during the early 60s and how it affected these three children.   

This was a sweet, emotional coming-of-age story as Hazel, Ruthie, and Joel managed their lives as they grew up.  It encompasses abandonment and abuse but more importantly, it's about love - sister love, family love, and the love of friends who may become more than friends.  It may make you laugh - especially the relationship of the sisters and it may make you cry but overall it's a book that will make you feel happy that you read it and got to know these three characters.  There is an indication that this is the first book in a new series and I am looking forward to reading more about this trio of friends as they face issues together in the coming years.

Buy Our Kept Hearts at Amazon

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.

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