Author: Gayle Forman
Setting: Ohio, 1946
Published: June 25th, 2020 from Audible Original
Summary: The End of My Heart tells the story of teenager Charlotte Oswald and the secrets she unlocks about her mother, Mary, who has begun a summer affair with her wealthy employer. Charlotte is obsessed with stories, particularly a radio serial called The End of My Heart. Sections done up as a full-cast radio serial add to the immersive listening experience.
This review does not contain spoilers.
So much of The End of My Heart seems tailored to my interests. The postwar, Midwestern, class-divided setting. The loving descriptions of Hitchcock favorites staring my beloved Ingrid Bergman—Spellbound (1945) and Notorious (1946). A heroine who spends a lonely summer at the library and malt shop, who makes up stories to cope with hinted-at tragedy. Themes around the purpose of storytelling and the unreliability of memory. That delightful radio drama hitting all the right notes.
These aspects charmed me into a four-star rating. Without them, the anticlimactic Revelation of Secrets at the end would’ve fallen much flatter.
To be sure, there are genuinely clever twists awaiting the listener. They’re marred by unsupported red herrings and unsatisfying character choices. Most of all, they’re marred by an extended passage that is meant to be cathartic but strays too far into maudlin for this reader.
That said, the story highlights themes of prejudice and mental health. The narrative and narration are lush. The characters are sufficiently complex to give weight to the charm. I’m glad I spent an Audible credit on this listen and can even imagine myself revisiting it on a rainy day.