AUDIO BOOK REVIEW: The Heart Begins Here by Jacqueline Dumas

Publication Date: August 17, 2020
Format: Audio
Genre:  LGBT, Womens Lit
Narrator: Michelle C Smith

Publisher: Inanna Publishing
6 hours 15 min
Buy: Kindle | Audio


The Heart Begins Here is the story of the ever-optimistic, earnest Sara Requier and her disintegrating seven-year relationship with the cynical Wanda Wysoka. Along with her relationship struggles, Sara must contend with the drastic changes in the book industry that threaten her feminist bookstore and a mother who refuses to accept her daughter’s lesbianism. Then, just as Wanda decides to leave Sara, Wanda’s new young lover, Cindy, is murdered. 

The story takes place in a western Canadian city in 2001 - much of it in Sara’s bookstore, Common Reader Books - in the shadow of the disturbing political climate that followed the 9/11 attacks in the US. This is a transitional point in the Canadian book industry: the proliferation of big box stores, the expansion of the Internet - and Sara is caught up in the concomitant changes in her community. 

The book explores themes of love and loss, of the lingering effects of a dysfunctional childhood, of misogyny, of personal and societal homophobia, and especially the challenge of integrating the personal with the political.


I recieved this book through netgalley from Inanna publishing in exchange for an honest review.  

I love books about book stores but this one left me cold.  This is almost a coming out book but for a middle aged woman.  When Sara meets Wanda they fall into a passionate affair that leads Sara to leave her husband. After opening a book store at Wanda's urging Sara immerses herself in feminist and lesbian culture.  Her book store caters to feminism and many great feminist authors are name dropped throughout the book.  Now several years after opening Sara finds her bookstore struggling along with her relationship with Wanda.  

I really didn't like Wanda from the very beginning.  I found her brash and nasty with a lot of hate in her heart.  She didn't want to be around heterosexual people (which I have found not so uncommon among many lesbians but I don't understand) and wasn't real keen on men even those who were trans.  As Sara navigates the death of her relationship and the floundering of her bookstore she also has to deal with a mother who is in denial of who Sara is and what her relationship with Wanda is.  

There are many pieces to this story that dealt with grief, fear, and how the lgbt community will rally around people who have been shunned by their own families to create a family of their own.  I'm not sure what about this book disappointed me other than Wanda but it just left me wanting. 

The narrator was good but she couldn't the book sing for me. 

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