The heart of the matter.

“Ultimately, I believe that writing is mostly about hard work, perseverance, keeping faith in yourself—which, I believe, is true of most things in life worth pursuing.”
~Emily Giffin

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve absolutely adored being able to sit down with a good book, turn to the first page, and just allow myself to get lost in the world of the characters. Granted, my tastes have changed since my first grade, six-year-old self fell in love with the Boxcar Children series, but the basis premise is the same. Twenty years later, I still get that same sense of joy from buying a new book and diving into it, immersing myself in this fictional world that at the time seems anything but. I especially love when I can relate to the characters, the setting, the message – any aspect that stands out – in one way or another. I love novels that make me think about what I would do in the position of the main characters. I love when I pick up a book and I literally can’t put it down.

That’s what all of Emily Giffin’s novels have been like for me, and her latest, Heart of the Matter, is no exception. I’ve been looking forward to reading it ever since I first found out its release date, and even though I attempted to go through it slowly to make it last longer, I pretty much failed in that endeavor. There’s just something about Emily’s writing that draws you in as a reader. You see what her characters see, hear what they hear, feel what they feel. She makes you think about them, ponder all the questions she raises and messages she interweaves, and wonder “what would I do?” Quite simply put, her books get to the heart of the matter. I don’t want to spoil this one for those of you who plan to read it (seriously – run, do not walk, to your bookstore or library to get a copy!), so I’ll just say that once again Emily’s written a novel that has words and themes which resound and resonate long after the last page. One thing that I thought was especially interesting and unique about HOTM is that she wrote it from two alternating points of view, granting readers a glimpse into the lives of two very different women and allowing us to “see” how they both feel about the situation that ties their worlds together in ways they never would have imagined.

I loved the whole novel and all the messages it conveys, but one in particular stood out: deep down, what’s most important is that we get to the heart of the matter. We can’t always listen to others or judge our own situations by theirs. Sure, it’s always a good thing to surround ourselves with people whose advice we respect and connection we treasure. Everyone should be so lucky as to have those “unconditionals” – the people who will always be there. But in the end? It’s our own hearts that need to do the talking about what’s right for us. As important as it is to open up to others, to truly hear their perspectives and take them into consideration and reflect on them, we also need to make our choices based upon what we feel, what we know. Because sometimes the surface level is just there to be cracked. Sometimes that extra layer needs to be peeled away so we can truly figure out what’s at the heart of the matter.

It’s something I try to do not just with my writing, but also my life. And, for me, I think the two are intertwined in ways. Writing is a passion. It matters. When I envision my future, I can’t imagine writing not being a part of it, and that just motivates me even more. Of course there are other components of my life that I’ll also always see as being right at the heart of the matter, but as Emily (who I get to meet on Wednesday — so excited!!) so eloquently shows in this book, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It just has to have heart.

What about you? Do you agree with Emily’s quote – is the dream you’re pursuing wrapped up in hard work, perseverance, and keeping that faith in yourself?


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