Harmony to Heartburn by Shelly Hickman is the heartwarming third book in the Fortytude series.
Since her marriage to Kiran a few years ago, Anna’s life has been smooth sailing. Unfortunately, family issues have been brewing under the surface. Her parent’s marriage is in serious trouble and they decide to take a break from the relationship. Luke, Anna’s ex-husband and father to her children, is going through a rough patch with his partner, and they’ve been keeping a secret from Anna. Will Anna’s family troubles threaten her own marriage?
While this book is the third in the series, it can be read as a standalone. Saying that, if you start with this installment, don’t be surprised if you immediately seek out the first two in the series. Anna and her supporting cast are fantastic characters and they quickly transform into people you feel like you want to know in real life.
Family drama provides novelists with endless source material. And it resonates with so many readers, since many have their own experiences with family woes. Hickman’s novel takes a lighthearted approach to serious issues, including illnesses, body image, and sexuality. This allows the reader to laugh along with the author, while also feeling the pain and turmoil of the characters. Humor handled in the right way, which Hickman does, always adds a wonderful touch to contemporary fiction that tackles difficult situations.
Another delightful aspect of Harmony to Heartburn is Anna’s age. It’s refreshing to have a main character who is older and going through menopause. Her experiences are everyday experiences of woman of the same age and reading about her mood swings and hot flashes reminds readers that they aren’t alone. Furthermore, her maturity strips away the unnecessary overreactions that are prevalent in teen and young adult stories. Life continues in adulthood and as people grow older, they learn to handle situations differently. Hickman proves that stories about middle aged adults are just as entertaining and worthwhile.
However, this doesn’t mean that Anna always reacts appropriately. She’s still human. None of the characters are perfect and their flaws make the storyline all the more believable. It can be tiresome to read novels about perfect characters who float through life experiencing things that most readers will never encounter once in their lives. Hickman’s characters could be your neighbor, friend, family member, or you.
Exploring the intricacies of family dynamics, relationships, and normal life proves that having a great cast of characters, solid writing, and twists and turns that many readers have dealt with in their own lives make for entertaining reading. Story matters. Characters matter. And when there is an entertaining story and a great cast of original characters, the author has succeeded.
Harmony to Heartburn is the ideal book for fans of contemporary fiction about characters who are believable, funny, honest, imperfect, and a joy to spend time with. While there is turmoil contained in the story and a few surprises, fans of HEA endings won’t be disappointed. Many fans will wonder what’s next for Anna and her family and friends.