4 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, Women's Fiction

The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin

4/5 stars

“If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s this: the past is never really gone.  It’s one long chain linking the present and also the future…” ~ Dr. Emma Colley in Kimmery Martin’s The Queen of Hearts

Ultimately, this book is about forgiveness.  Forgiving ourselves and others so that we can move on and not have to live with “a fire inside us” as Zadie says.IMG_1786

From the Publisher:

A debut novel set against a background of hospital rounds and life-or-death decisions that pulses with humor and empathy and explores the heart’s capacity for forgiveness…

Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school. Now they’re happily married wives and mothers with successful careers–Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years.

As chief resident, Nick Xenokostas was the center of Zadie’s life–both professionally and personally–throughout a tragic chain of events in her third year of medical school that she has long since put behind her. Nick’s unexpected reappearance during a time of new professional crisis shocks both women into a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers. As it becomes evident that Emma must have known more than she revealed about circumstances that nearly derailed both their lives, Zadie starts to question everything she thought she knew about her closest friend.

My Thoughts:

I put this book on hold for my daughter, who loves Grey’s Anatomy and any medical drama.  But then I started hearing a lot of good things about it and my daughter was reading something else, so I decided to give it a try.  I was really not sure if I would like it, because medical dramas are not my jam.  But I was sucked in by the writing and the charismatic, very likable character of Zadie, who is struggling to manage four kids – the youngest, Delaney is an absolute trip and I loved every scene she was in!  Although I could not relate to the medical aspect of things, I could relate to Zadie as a mom and I loved that even though her husband had a demanding job and traveled a lot, she was not bitter about that or angry about it, she accepted it and they made it work.  They modeled what truly supporting your partner means.

It took me a while to get into Emma – Zadie’s best friend since college – I found I could not relate to her and I didn’t feel her character was as well developed in the beginning of the book.  But then her character started to come into focus about halfway through.

I had read in reviews that Nick was not a nice guy, so I went in to the reading thinking that, but I think that is totally wrong.  NICK IS A VERY NICE GUY.  Sure, he made some mistakes, but he learned from them.  I think being an attractive med student that all the gurls had crushes on went to his head and he abused that, but when he shows her the photo and tells her why he has carried it around for almost twenty years and when Emma confesses everything…I had to say I think Nick was a nice guy in the end.

Ultimately, this book is about forgiveness.  I have always heard and even experienced that forgiving is more for us than the person who wronged us.  We forgive so that we don’t have to carry around the bad feelings of being angry and hurt, having vindictive thoughts, etc.

I understood why Emma did what she did.  I have felt like the awkward person that always says the wrong thing, I have felt jealous of the person why everyone likes who always says the right thing.  I don’t think I would ever do what Emma did, but I do understand her jealousy.

I also understand why Zadie did what she did.  I have been hurt by people – I even had a friend keep me from a guy I was interested in (in our case, however, we met up again a year later and he asked for my number, I gave it to him and we started dating and got married, had two beautiful daughters and built a wonderful life together and will celebrate 22 years of marriage in August).  So I agree completely with Zadie that everything worked out the way it was meant to.  I think she was a really big person to forgive Emma and I think it speaks volumes of Zadie’s character, why everyone loves her and her love for Emma in that she was able to forgive Emma.  And I do think that after over 20 years of friendship it is realistic that she would forgive this rather large transgression because as Zadie said, the friends you have as an adult – your mom friends and your work friends – it’s not really like the friends you had when you were younger–the stay up all night, do totally crazy things, know everything about each other kind of friendship just doesn’t exist when you meet someone because their kid is in your kid’s class or you work together.

I thought this was a great book.  The only reason why I didn’t give it 5 stars is that I thought Emma’s husband seemed cartoon-like and not real enough and it took a while for Emma to become a real character for me in the book.  Otherwise, I think the author did a great job of exploring lifelong friendships and how people evolve over time and the roles of love, kindness, understanding and forgiveness in friendship as well as an excellent job of showing how partners in a marriage can truly support each other.