Jar of Hearts, by Jennifer Hillier

I’m starting this new literary rendezvous with you with a fabulous novel I read last week…almost in a sitting.

Jar of Hearts is an absolute gem. I’d never read anything from Jennifer Hillier before, but I’ll sure check her other books and the ones to come.

The story:

“This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years…”

Popular sixteen-year-old Angela Wong disappeared one night without a trace, and her best friend Geo Shaw carried both the guilt and the secret of what happened to her during the fourteen years that followed… That is when Angela ’s body is discovered—dismantled and buried in the woods close to where Geo used to live. So when Detective Kaiser Brody, former last third of the high school inseparable trio, comes to arrest Geo for accessory to murder, she’s neither surprised nor does she deny it; she’s secretly relieved. She takes the plea deal and winds up in jail where she belongs, her well-planned life turned upside down and her rich and successful fiancé wishing he’d never laid eyes on her.

Five years later, Geo has served her time and she’s a free woman again, but bodies begin turning up with messages that strangely point to her. The past never really stays in the past, does it?

From a reader’s point of view:

I can’t say that I was surprised by most the events that took place in the storyline, but I was hooked nonetheless, right from the trial in the first chapter.

The characters have been through hell and back (except for Angela, obviously), and were so well written I could swear I’d met them somewhere. I totally shipped Geo and Kai even when they were teens. These two had me at the edge of my seat the whole time.

As for the story, it just never rests, and there isn’t one good spot in the book where you can say, “Okay, I can stop here, enough for today.” Nope. Didn’t happen. Well, yes, it did; I had a very short night.

From a writer’s point of view:

First, the storytelling was fantastic. I’m an absolute fan of these stories that dismantle the story completely, teasing out details slowly. And geez it flows well!

And second, having readers fall for Kai is a great trick to portray Calvin (Geo’s boyfriend and Angela’s murderer) as an even darker villain of the day, and to also tell… sorry, to show them that Kai may not be the cold-hearted cop that was first introduced to them.

In 3 words?

Compelling, tantalizing, unputdownable.