Publication date: November 4, 2014 by Picador
Source: Publisher via NetGalley and TLC Book Tours for an honest review
EVERY SUPERHERO NEEDS TO START SOMEWHERE...
Dale Sampson is used to being a nonperson at his small-town Midwestern high school, picking up the scraps of his charismatic lothario of a best friend, Mack. He comforts himself with the certainty that his stellar academic record and brains will bring him the adulation that has evaded him in high school. But when an unthinkable catastrophe tears away the one girl he ever had a chance with, his life takes a bizarre turn as he discovers an inexplicable power: He can regenerate his organs and limbs.
When a chance encounter brings him face to face with a girl from his past, he decides that he must use his gift to save her from a violent husband and dismal future. His quest takes him to the glitz and greed of Hollywood, and into the crosshairs of shadowy forces bent on using and abusing his gift. Can Dale use his power to redeem himself and those he loves, or will the one thing that finally makes him special be his demise? The Heart Does Not Grow Back is a darkly comic, starkly original take on the superhero tale, introducing an exceptional new literary voice in Fred Venturini.
I'm just going to start with: The Heart Does Not Grow Back is not an easy book. That is definitely not to say that is isn't good --- because it IS very good! However, if you are looking for an easy, feel-good book, this probably isn't it.
The writing is very good, but very stark and real. This is not a fairy tale despite the premise of the book. Dale Sampson is a smart, quiet, misfit who doesn't quite fit in with any group. He becomes best friends with one of the popular guys in his class in one of my favorite scenes of the book. The depictions of the kids in school and the horrible ways they treat each other feel very real and even the "good guys" are not heroes - they are just normal people with their own weaknesses.
After an extremely violent encounter with another classmate, Dales discovers a power that most would consider to be super-human. But, somehow even this doesn't make his life better. He still has some emotional baggage to deal with and seems to attract violent and manipulative people.
There are so many awful people in this book. As I was reading it, I kept wondering if there were any truly good people in the book - or was the book an more accurate depiction of people than we usually see in books? That's the funny thing about The Heart Does Not Grow Back - I spent a lot of time while reading it and after reading it thinking about the book, Dale, his new "gift", how he chose to use it, the people who used him, and his final decision about his life. I also had to contemplate many things about humanity and whether Dale was a loser or just honest with himself. This is definitely not a book to be easily forgotten.
I think that it is most definitely a worthy read and would recommend The Heart Does Not Grow Back to anyone who likes a thought provoking book that takes a stark, darkly-humorous/ironic look at life.
Connect with Fred
Fred Venturini’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:Monday, October 13th: Benni’s Bookbiters
Tuesday, October 14th: Books a la Mode – author guest post
Wednesday, October 15th: Read a Latte
Thursday, October 16th: Benni’s Bookbiters - an unofficial soundtrack
Monday, October 20th: Bell, Book & Candle
Wednesday, October 22nd: My Shelf Confessions – Wonderfully Wicked Read-A-Thon Giveaway
Thursday, October 23rd: Saints and Sinners
Monday, October 27th: A Fantastical Librarian
Wednesday, October 29th: In Bed with Books
Tuesday, November 4th: Read-Love-Blog
Thursday, November 6th: Sweet Southern Home
Friday, November 7th: The Steadfast Reader
Monday, November 10th: Fourth Street Review
Monday, November 10th: Guiltless Reading
Tuesday, November 11th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, November 12th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, November 13th: More Than Just Magic
Friday, November 14th: The Feminist Texican [Reads]
Monday, November 17th: A Book Geek
Thursday, November 20th: Bibliophilia, Please
Monday, November 24th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
TBD: Book Marks the Spot