Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hearts On A String: A Novel by Kris Radish

Hearts On a String by Kris Radish
336 pages
Published May 2010 by Bantam
Source: the publisher and TLC Book Tours

Five women meet in the bathroom of the airport in Tampa when they all pitch in to try to save one woman's cell phone that's become jammed in a toilet. Two of them women have just discovered that one knows the others husband but otherwise they are all complete strangers. While they're in the midst of the rescue, an announcement comes over the airport intercom stating that all outgoing flights have been canceled due to a storm which seems to be effecting enough major airports to shut down all air travel. One of the women suggests that they all return to the suite she just vacated, which she knows for a fact is still empty and ride out the wait there. Things only go from bad to worse--the storm suddenly shifts and hits Tampa; it turns out that Cathy, who knew Nan's husband, was actually having an affair with him; and an attendee at a Para-Psychic Professional conference taking place in the hotel seems to know more about the youngest woman, Holly, than she is comfortable with. And Cathy's not the only one hiding a secret. Let the bonding--or cat fighting--begin.

I really wanted to like this book. But almost from the beginning, my eyes started rolling in disbelief and they never stopped. The whole set up to put these women together seemed so contrived, I didn't buy that one storm was going to cause such a massive shutdown of airports in the U.S., and I found it even harder to believe that the storm suddenly hit Florida with such fury. More than once I tagged a passage with a sticky note that simply said "really???" For example:
"...they all took a ridiculous chance to help a stranger by willingly participating in this Airside A restroom event."
A ridiculous chance? Really???

I didn't find it hard to believe that a group of women would decide to group together to share a hotel room to ride out a storm--even a group of total strangers. Women do that. But these women weren't even really getting along in the bathroom so why they would choose to spend a couple of days together? And that's the question each of them kept asking themselves again...and again...and again. And for some reason Radish keeps suggesting that staying together was a dangerous decision.

Occasionally I found a passage that made me really think that Radish could do better. The very idea that all women are connected by a string:

"It allows women to lean into one another and find a sister when they need one. The string can never be broken. You can use it to pull yourself up, to pull yourself forward, or to steady the place where you must remain."
Or this description of friendship:
"Women who have someone who understands the pace of their moods, their list of regrets and longings, the reasons why they let go of some things and cling to others. Women who know that the call will always be answered without hesitation. Women who can at any given moment fill the hollow pit of loneliness that sometimes cripples them."
And I could completely relate to this passage about motherhood:
"That absolutely lovely feeling when everyone is home and safe and the doors are locked and the house is clean and for just a few hours there is the scent of calm happiness everywhere she turns."

Radish is also the author of "Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral" and I remember reading reviews of that book. If you read that one, what did you think of it.

Connect with Radish, check out her website, follow her on Twitter or Facebook or follow her blog.

For other opinions of "Hearts On A String" check out this list of blogs.


  1. What a weird scenario and to start off with a description of trying to fish a cell phone out of a public toilet - yuk! The women bonding in adverse circumstances idea sounds ok, but voluntarily spending days in an hotel with complete strangers sharing emotions, unless well written, does not appeal as something I would want to read about.
    Thanks for taking the time to read this book and write a review.

  2. Lisa, I liked your review - you were kinder than I was about this book :) And I agree with you about Radish - I thought she could do better, too! It just seemed crazy that these women who disliked each other so much, would choose to share a room together during this horrific storm. I know that women do bond together, but this group did not seem like the bonding type at all. I kept questioning the book, too! Like, " Is this seriously happening?", "Will they ever get over the fact that they don't know each other and have decided to share a room?", and "Does someone have to be having an affair?" - UGH!! Oh well, I suppose we can't love every book we read.

  3. Ok, I agree with Linda P. What a weird situation to base a book around! I can't imagine a group of women spending the weekend together after bonding over a toilet mishap! It sounds like this book was really very artificial and not all that well written, and I think it's one that I will probably avoid. Though some of the passages you quoted were very thought-provoking, it sounds as if the rest of the book surrounding these passages wasn't.

  4. A bit strange - the background I mean but thanks for this review.

  5. I've not read very favorable responses to this one...Thanks for your thoughts and I'm just not sure this one is for me.

  6. Lisa, aw darn. I'm sorry you didn't like it more, but these things happen. Thanks so much for giving it a shot and for all the time you put into reading and reviewing it. I quite like that last quote- I could use some calm happiness like that at the moment!!

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  7. It can be fun sometimes to vent about all the eye-rolling and Oh-Really?!s. Sometimes, it just happens even when the book is good.

  8. Well it's not so good to see that so many people haven't really liked this book. I'm going to be reading it at some point as well. I sure hope I'll like it better. lol.