Monday, May 9, 2016

Want To Meet Some Dysfunctional Characters?

TITLE: She Poured Out Her Heart
AUTHOR: Jean Thompson
PUBLISHER: Blue Rider Press

FROM GOODREADS: National Book Award finalist Jean Thompson traces the complicated friendship of two very different women who meet in college. In the tradition of her bestselling novel The Year We Left Home, Thompson has crafted a novel of remarkable psychological suspense, cast with the kinds of deeply realized characters that have been heralded as “emotionally fluid” and “deeply familiar.”

The night that Jane and Bonnie meet on a college campus sets them on paths forever entwined. Bonnie, the wild and experimental one, always up for anything, has spent the past two decades bouncing between ill-fated relationships; while Jane, whose seemingly perfect life, perfect husband, and perfect children appear to have materialized out of a fantasy. But these appearances contradict the quiet, inescapable doubt Jane feels about her life. One night, in the middle of her own Christmas party, she steps outside into the snow, removes her clothing and shoes, and lies down in the backyard. When she is discovered, nothing is the same for anyone. As Jane begins to have visions and retreat into a private inner world, Bonnie finds herself drawn inevitably into an affair with Jane’s husband.

Thompson’s mastery of complex emotion begets a novel of desire and the nature of love—who we love, how we’re loved, and, most important, that we reach urgently and always for a higher love, regardless of our circumstances. She Poured Out Her Heart is a finely wrought, haunting story of female friendship and deception, and the distance in between.

MY THOUGHTS:   I've been trying for several days to figure out how to put this book into words and I'll admit, it hasn't been easy. "She Poured Out Her Heart" focuses on Jane and Bonnie, two best friends who met in college and stayed friends (of sorts) throughout their journey into adulthood. Bonnie is the wild, reckless type, who becomes a crisis intervention counselor working for the Chicago Police and Jane becomes the housewife of a prominent doctor, Eric, and has two children, one of which I feel is in some serious need of more parenting. As a young child, Jane had some heart issues, and as an adult, she goes to these "white" places in her head when stressed or when she doesn't want to deal with things. Eric wants to find a medical reason, but Jane sees these places as an escape and thinks she is broken. I kept waiting for more development or explanation about this but it never happened.

The characters in this book are seriously messed up. Neither Jane nor Eric are happy in their marriage, and Bonnie and Eric start an affair (not a spoiler - I read it in a preview somewhere). Now I don't condone cheating (not that I'm a saint or anything) but I grew up around it and really have no tolerance for it - if you're unhappy, leave and if you don't want to leave, there must be something there so try to make it work. However, that being said, the only character I really liked in this book is Bonnie. Although she starts a relationship with Jane's husband, and she is majorly flawed, she owns her flaws and mistakes and I can respect the hell out of that even if she is a cheater.

This book wasn't a bad read and I really wanted to know what happened in the end. Though even though I finished it several days ago, I still want to know what happened. The ending doesn't really resolve anything and I can imagine these characters living out the remainder of their lives in misery. Jane doesn't show much growth in my opinion and well, Eric is just Eric throughout - he likes hiding behind his work and somewhere in the literary universe, I bet he is still doing so. I don't even feel sorry for Jane because it's hard to show empathy for a character who doesn't really realize how miserable and pathetic she really is at times.

This isn't a bad read, but I don't really know what genre it appeals to so I would just say if you like reading about dysfunctional people, then give it a go - it will be right up your alley.

I received this book from the Penguin First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.




  1. Sounds different, not really for me but glad you liked it some what...and I hate open endings. Though I guess it lets your imagination play.

  2. It does looks and sounds very intriguing, but it is not my kind of book. I am glad and happy you liked it though. Thank you for your great review and post!

  3. Well, I'm certainly intrigued, Barb. I totally get why you didn't connect with Jane and it's interesting that the author didn't give her or Eric any emotional growth. I also get liking Bonnie. There's a lot to be said of a character who owns their flaws. I don't condone cheating either but it seems like Thompson used the cheating as a vehicle of sorts. Towards what, though? I am sorry you were left with having to wonder how things ended. I'm not really a fan of those sorts of endings. But it does say something about the book that days later you're still thinking about it. :)