In Heart of the Matter, the latest novel by the popular Emily Giffin, Tessa is a former professor turned stay-at-home mom. Her husband, Nick, is a renown pediatric surgeon, and in all appearances, the two seem to enjoy a charmed life. On an evening out to celebrate their anniversary, Nick is suddenly called away to attend to a six-year old burn victim. The boy’s mother, Valerie, is a high-powered attorney and a single parent, and though both families live in the same Boston suburb, the women seem to have little in common. In the course of caring for Charlie, through several skin grafts and other surgeries, Nick ‘s devotion to his work soon becomes complicated by his attraction to Valerie. Meanwhile, Tessa is left on the home front, trying to figure out why Nick is suddenly so distant, and imagining the worst scenario.
Giffin claims that she draws from her own personal experiences and this seems evident in the relationship the women have with their friends and other characters in the novel. For example, the subtle judgment and conflict often felt by both career women and their soccer-mom counterparts is realistically portrayed. Plus, one can’t help but wonder if Giffin used her own career days as an attorney in Manhattan to help flesh-out Valerie’s personality. In all, an enjoyable read, with believable characters caught in untenable circumstances.