Some time ago I found out about Book Sneeze, a service by Thomas Nelson offering free books in exchange for reviewing them on your blog (the reviews aren’t required to be positive).

I decided to give it a try, and a couple days after signing up my account got approved. The website shows a changing selection of a bit more than a handful books available at any time. When I visited the page, most stuff available seemed to be about religion or self-help, which I’m not really interested in, and I decided for the book which looked the most like a novel. It happened to be Andy Andrews’ «The Heart Mender» (formerly published as Island of Saints).

After the usual delay (snail post is painfully slow here) I received the expected package, and they were even so nice as to include a second copy to give away. I’ll see what I do with it :). Anyway, here goes the review!

When I started reading the book, it surprised me twofold: first of all, it didn’t begin with the actual story I had expected, but with a narration of how the author got to write the book, after finding a box containing WWII artefacts and a photo buried in his backyard. Even more surprising, though, I got captivated by it after reading just the first few pages, something many few books achieve so fast.

After a few chapters exploring the origin of the artefacts, the author begins with the actual story of how Josef Landerman, Lieutenant of a German U-Boat sent to the Gulf of Mexico, ends up at the mercy of Helen Mason. Helen, a widow who hasn’t been able to overcome her ill fortune, is thus confronted with the choice of saving the life of someone wearing the same uniform that killed her husband years ago. Even if Helen decides to help him, what will await him so far from home?

While it’s sold as a romance focusing on the topic of forgiveness, the book doesn’t miss its fair share of adventure and it is a pleasurable read. I can only recommend it.