Book Review: The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel

The Life Intended
Author: Kristin Harmel
Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Fiction
Released: December 30 2014
Review Source: Gallery Books

From the author of the international bestseller The Sweetness of Forgetting, named one of the Best Books of Summer 2012 by Marie Claire magazine, comes a captivating novel about the struggle to overcome the past when our memories refuse to be forgotten.

In this richly told story where Sliding Doors meets P.S. I Love You, Kristin Harmel weaves a heart-wrenching tale that asks: what does it take to move forward in life without forgetting the past?

After her husband's sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Waithman never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she's planning her second walk down the aisle to a perfectly nice man. So why isn't she more excited?

At first, Kate blames her lack of sleep on stress. But when she starts seeing Patrick, her late husband, in her dreams, she begins to wonder if she's really ready to move on. Is Patrick trying to tell her something? Attempting to navigate between dreams and reality, Kate must uncover her husband's hidden message. Her quest leads her to a sign language class and into the New York City foster system, where she finds rewards greater than she could have imagined.

Kate had a wonderful life with her soul mate. Until September 18th came rolling along and took the man  of her dreams away from her. Once she loses Patrick she becomes a shell of what she use to be, after ten years she finds Dan and thinks that he could be her potential husband. Two years later the dreams hit. The ones where she has a life with Patrick, and a daughter named Hannah-and although she knows it's impossible they feel so vividly real. While having these dreams she must figure out what they are trying to tell her, or if there's possibly a way to stay in her dream world.

The Life Intended was very inspirational. Although I have not lost a husband there was still something for me to take away from the story. That I really appreciated because although I couldn't relate to Kate on the level of losing a husband, I could relate to her on her journey-which ultimately is to happiness. Harmel did a wonderful job making the story vivid for me, and what I really liked were the scenes where Kate was learning American Sign Language.
I have been signing since I was 2, my best friend is deaf. So for me I was worried when Sign Language got brought into the story-I felt that this was a hard subject to brush upon. But Harmel describes the signs with such accuracy that I found myself signing and nodding at how she would describe certain signs. I also like that she brought light to the difference between deaf and Deaf. Not many people know that there is a difference between the two because honestly when a word is capitalized or not there usually isn't a difference. So I found myself smiling a lot whenever Kate was learning Sign Language, especially during her early stages.

The characters within this story were easily likable. Especially Andrew. I was in love with him from the moment he was introduced. Being Kate's ASL teacher he becomes a major part of her life, especially as her journey continues on. What I liked about him was he knew she was with Dan and never really stepped on any toes. He was an honest good guy who knew his place in her life. It's rare to read a book where the character you love isn't vying for the main girl's love. It's almost refreshing and I felt that this was honestly how most love stories in real life actually happen. That made me love him even more, although I would've liked more of him that's for sure.

There wasn't too much of Andrew because there was a lot of Patrick. It was almost heartbreaking every time that Kate went into and out of her world with Patrick because it almost felt like she was cheating on Dan or on Patrick, even having known that Patrick was dead. But the dreams play an important role and honestly they had me on my toes throughout the book. I had so many theories: she has a brain tumor, she's going crazy, she's the one whose dead, etc. And when the mystery behind the dream is revealed...let's just say you might need some tissues. I am a crier but I never would've expected The Life Intended to make me cry and...well....I cried multiple times throughout the last twenty or so pages of the book. I couldn't believe that this book had broken me, but there were a few parts that just got to me. What's even better is a picked this book on a whim, I wanted a story unlike one that I had just recently finished but wasn't expecting The Life Intended to affect me the way that it did.

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