Thank you to Smith Publicity for providing me with a copy of the book to review.
After pondering over the book upon finishing it I would probably have to settle for a 3.5 rather than my initial 4-star rating for this one. And it’s still a difficult decision because, while I REALLY enjoyed this book, it was something like eating a slice of delectable cheese and realizing a mouse had taken a bite out of it somewhere midway. And it somewhat dulled the appetite.
True to its summary and early criticism, “The Broken Heart Diet” is a book that is slight and emotional with just that right blend of the magical and familiar. Its cast of characters will charm you and feel like they’re the real thing, each with a distinct personality and overcoming their own obstacles over the course of the book. The plot itself is also familiar enough but with a different take on a common topic. So why is it that I didn’t fall as deeply in love with it as I expected?
The problem, it seems, came from what I later noticed was a somewhat circular plotline. Yes, Dante had to overcome Abby’s rejection, and over the course of doing so ended up coming back to her on several occasions. It’s a familiar coping and moving-on method many are familiar with. But for me it seemed that too much of the book was focussed on that in fact, and Dante’s final, “true” romance at the end (it was no surprise who he’d end up with), felt too rushed and somewhat unnatural. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I wish more time was given for the relationship to develop rather than to have it “just work” at the end of the book like it seemed to. The ending, as well, felt too rushed. While reading I checked the page number and found myself asking “how will this be resolved in 10 pages?” The pacing of the book was slightly off and it was noticeable from how long it took me to read; I read 50% of the book in one way, and the remainder was split into a day and a quarter. That usually is a strong indicator of how well the book is written and the pacing of the action, and after about the halfway mark of this one the pacing began to falter.
The situation with the restaurant, on the other hand, had an ending that I was satisfied with – emotional and ‘logical’, it showed the growth of several of the characters over the course of the book which is always wonderful to see. However looking at the whole restaurant business in general it felt somewhat incomplete and circular once again. It felt like there could’ve been more, more in terms of Dante’s show on the Cook Network, more in terms of his fame and his reputation of curing broken hearts. Even the whole drama in the end about losing the restaurant wasn’t resolved the way I would’ve hoped, left more up to fate and time rather than seeing characters worry about it and try to pitch in together to solve the issue.
Otherwise I can’t complain. The writing was light and the tone was strong. The stories of Dante’s Nonna were a wonderful addition to the book that set me into a bedtime story mode every time they came up. I still don’t know whether she was real or a ghost or what she was exactly, but in that case I don’t mind letting the detail go unexplained. The mystery was part of its charm as a detail, and added to the magical quality of the book in general.
The timing of this book though is the most wonderful part of my reading experience. I feel like this book found me and there was a reason that I read it right now rather than finding it at a bookstore half a year or more later. The message of it, the meaning of true love and what it takes to cope and find the beauty in life, it was such a strong message in this book that was presented in a charming and not overpowering way. It will especially resonate with people who are touched by tough times or maybe even a broken heart, but it still offered that touch of wisdom that I think will be picked up by any reader who picks up this book. It was, overall, a very satisfying and memorable read.