3 out of 5 stars
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One Hand, Two Hearts by S.K. Alfstad is a novel within a novel following Jimmy V’s life as a homeless man. Although Jimmy V came from money, he always wanted to live a more simple life by helping those around him. He meets Bobby, another homeless man who struggles with his speech, and they become fast friends. Another character, Scott, is going through a challenging time. He is a lawyer and after a challenging case he finds himself contemplating his life. Bobby and Jimmy V save his life, so Scott helps them out in return. The trio of friends have a unique relationship, each bringing something different to the table. Jimmy V also wrote part of a novel about an orphan, James, who changes his life for the better after leaving a corrupt orphanage. This particular part of the book was very captivating and I found myself flipping the pages to see what would happen next.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. The novel within a novel concept was interesting, and I felt like I was reading two different books. I found myself wondering when it would all come together, but it finally did. This book subtly tackles more difficult concepts and topics, like homelessness, greed, mental health and corruption. One Hand, Two Hearts showed the many issues and challenges that homeless people face, while still providing the reader with a story to go along with it. As a country music fan, I loved the references to Tim McGraw’s song, "Humble and Kind." I also appreciated the analogy of a mental health to a pencil. I think this is one that will resonate with many people.
Unfortunately, I did find quite a few errors in the novel. There were many discrepancies with the spelling of names. This was a bit distracting. I found myself trying to figure out the correct spelling of Vincent’s name, because it was spelled three different ways throughout the book. I do think this book would benefit from another round of editing and proofreading. Additionally, the ending wasn’t my favorite. While S.K. Alfstad did show us what happened to each of the characters at the end of the story, the actual ending was very abrupt. I found myself saying to myself, “Wait, that’s it?”
I give this book a 3 out of 5 stars. While I appreciated what the author was trying to do, the execution could have been better. I loved the way S.K. Alfstad took challenging topics and made them seem a bit lighter. I also appreciated the focus on mental health and the care taken when discussing a suicide attempt. This can be triggering to some readers, but I found it to be very well done. However, this book needs some more editing, and the ending could be reworked.
I would recommend this book to readers older than fifteen looking for a short book with meaning. Younger readers may not fully grasp the themes the author is showing throughout the book. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and the story within a story was a unique aspect of the book. There was no severe profanity nor sexual content.
One Hand Two Hearts
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