Andrea McKenzie Raine A Crowded Heart

ISBN 13: 9781629013138

A Crowded Heart

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9781629013138: A Crowded Heart
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Willis Hancocks is a bright, ambitious young man who wants to break out of his small-town existence and make a difference in the world. When WWII breaks out, he rushes to enlist, despite his parents' disapproval. As the world falls apart, Willis finds a way to forge through and finds solace in an incomparable friendship and a surprising, brief encounter with a love that takes hold and eventually threatens to jeopardize the life he strives to build while battling his post-war demons. While Willis is set on building a new world for himself with a single-minded goal for personal success-a lucrative, purposeful, easy lifestyle-obstacles are continuously thrown in his path, and he must embrace, overcome, or dodge them entirely. In the course of the choices he makes, and the destiny that is chosen for him, he unwittingly drags the people who are closest to him down into the darkness.

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About the Author:

Andrea McKenzie Raine was born in Smithers, BC and grew up in Victoria, BC where she still resides. She was enrolled in the Creative Writing program and earned a B.A. in English Literature at the University of Victoria in 2000, and completed a post-degree Public Relations certificate program. She has attended the successful Planet Earth Poetry reading series (formerly known as Mocambopo) in Victoria, BC since 1997, and participated in the Glenairley writing retreats led by Canadian poet and novelist Patrick Lane in Sooke, BC. In 2005, she published her first book of poetry, titled A Mother's String, through Ekstasis Editions. Her poetry has also appeared in Mocambo Nights, Canadian Literature journal, Quills, Borderlines anthology (Ascent Aspirations magazine), Tempus anthology (Rubicon Press), Poems from Planet Earth (Leaf Press), Tongues of Fire anthology, and several Glenairley chapbooks edited by Patrick Lane (Leaf Press). She has also written book reviews and articles for local magazines, celebrating the work of her peers. Andrea is also the fiction editor of the BC Federation of Writers' WordWorks magazine. She lives with her husband and two young sons and, by day, is employed as a correspondence writer for the provincial government. Turnstiles is her debut novel published by Inkwater Press. She also published her second novel, A Crowded Heart, through Inkwater Press, which is a prequel to Turnstiles.

Review:

Star Rating: 5 / 5
A Crowded Heart by Andrea McKenzie Raine is a dramatic look at the life a young man and how the choices he makes affect those around him. Raine touches on the tough subject of the realities of war and that boys are sent to fight and return home from war men, sometimes haunted and damaged by the acts and images they witnessed while there. She eloquently tells a story of one man who could be anyone and of how the war he goes off to fight in follows him home and of the battles that ensue in various areas of what should be his normal life. A touching story with well written characters makes this a five-star novel that is moving, thought provoking, and so much more.
          
Reviewed by Amy Synoracki for the Seattle Book Review


5 stars -- Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

Willis Hancocks is not the type of person who can serenely embrace a mediocre lifestyle and his town seems too small for him. With big dreams and strung up with a firm determination to succeed, he joins the army at the outset of WWII, but the reality of war is fraught with cruelty and the ambitious young man has to find ways of pulling himself together before he falls apart with the world around him. A Crowded Heart is a symbolic title for an engaging story of a man with a lot of pain, love, and dreams, all cradled in his heart, and what it takes to dream big and to achieve those dreams. The question is: is Willis Hancock sculpted for the kind of success he dreams of?

Andrea McKenzie Raine has a rare gift for prose and plot, and she starts her story in the midst of action and an engaging dialogue between the protagonist and a nurse in a hospital. The characters are well developed and convincing enough - many readers will find Hancocks to be very interesting as he moves from one hardship to another, trying to give perspective to his life. A Crowded Heart can be read as a well-crafted philosophy of self-actualization, the tale of a man who dreams and dares to follow his dreams, but it's the price he has to pay that will make some readers' hearts weep.

Sprinkled throughout the text are streams of consciousness that will allow readers to connect with the protagonist and a war commentary that is interesting. The action is intense and it is fascinating to watch the protagonist as he develops meaningful friendships, falls in love, and gets to the point of almost losing it all. I enjoyed the ride. I love the philosophy behind the book and the prose is crisp and tight. This is a well-crafted story that will instruct, entertain, and remind readers of how far a dream can drive a man.


Kirkus Review -- A soldier struggles to come to terms with the psychological impact of war in this historical novel.
Willis Hancocks, a debonair Canadian soldier, fights on the western front of the European theater of World War II. He is first encountered recuperating in an Army hospital, where he delights in charming the nurses. Here he meets Sam, a cocky yet warmhearted soldier and fellow casualty. Sam's presence buoys Willis, and he is disappointed when the young man returns to combat. Asking whether he will be sent home, Willis learns that he will be kept around "for the entertainment." He is posted to the Netherlands, where he celebrates the liberation of Eindhoven. He encounters Sam, and falls for a beautiful waitress called Frieda, who fills his dreams long after he's kissed her goodbye. After a period of fighting, Willis and Sam enjoy a short leave in London. Willis meets Ellie Birch, an art student, and in a whirlwind romance, he proposes to her before heading for combat. Following the fall of the Nazis, Willis returns to Ellie, yet he's withdrawn, depressed, and sensitive to sudden, loud noises or commotion. Willis is sent away to convalesce, but the difficulties of settling back into everyday life only intensify when Ellie gives birth. Will Willis find the strength to fulfill his role as husband and father? Will the dream of Frieda ever leave him? This sensitive, vital novel examines the psychological toll of war on the soldier and those closest to him. The result is a deeply personal and affecting narrative, punctuated by touching letters and snippets of italicized inner monologues. In the midst of battle, Willis writes: "In this place, there are days I can't see past the end of my nose, and other days all I can see is my whole life ahead of me." Ellie responds by letter: "I wish for happiness this year: an end to this war and our own suf­fering. I wish for you to come home." Raine (Outcast: A Short Story, 2015, etc.) generates a powerfully genuine sense of yearning, which becomes tragic when Willis is unable to reciprocate this emotion when returning home. The novel lacks vivid combat descriptions, which would have helped inform the physical cause of Willis' "combat neurosis," now known as post-traumatic stress disorder. Furthermore, Sam's character appears rather underdeveloped in comparison to the multifaceted Willis. Nevertheless, this is a well-written, emotionally intelligent book.

A military tale explores the strengths and frailties of the human mind in the aftermath of war.

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Book Description Inkwater Press, 2015. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. Willis Hancocks is a bright, ambitious young man who wants to break out of his small-town existence and make a difference in the world. When WWII breaks out, he rushes to enlist, despite his parents disapproval. As the world falls apart, Willis finds a way to forge through and finds solace in an incomparable friendship and a surprising, brief encounter with a love that takes hold and eventually threatens to jeopardize the life he strives to build while battling his post-war demons. While Willis is set on building a new world for himself with a single-minded goal for personal success-a lucrative, purposeful, easy lifestyle-obstacles are continuously thrown in his path, and he must embrace, overcome, or dodge them entirely. In the course of the choices he makes, and the destiny that is chosen for him, he unwittingly drags the people who are closest to him down into the darkness. Seller Inventory # AAV9781629013138

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Book Description Inkwater Press, 2015. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Willis Hancocks is a bright, ambitious young man who wants to break out of his small-town existence and make a difference in the world. When WWII breaks out, he rushes to enlist, despite his parents disapproval. As the world falls apart, Willis finds a way to forge through and finds solace in an incomparable friendship and a surprising, brief encounter with a love that takes hold and eventually threatens to jeopardize the life he strives to build while battling his post-war demons. While Willis is set on building a new world for himself with a single-minded goal for personal success-a lucrative, purposeful, easy lifestyle-obstacles are continuously thrown in his path, and he must embrace, overcome, or dodge them entirely. In the course of the choices he makes, and the destiny that is chosen for him, he unwittingly drags the people who are closest to him down into the darkness. Seller Inventory # AAV9781629013138

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