Kate Kindrick is a somewhat advanced child. She reads at the third grade level, has artistic potential and an active, playful imagination. She also has one power that sets her apart from her peers: she can see people’s hearts and read their emotions.
Kate’s doll, Etta Ebella, is a real angel resident in a doll body that guides young Kate through the difficulties that arise from her sixth birthday party. Though surrounded by the love of her parents, grandparents and, especially, her uncle, Terrence Ted, Kate must deal with her troubled cousin, Marilla Marzy and her diabolical Uncle Vaynem.
The crux of the story takes place while Kate’s parents are out of town and she must stay at her cousin’s house. A simple Sunday church service with her cousin’s family turns toxic. Kate’s ability to read hearts, along with Etta Ebella’s assistance, helps Kate navigate these dangers to herself and to her family.
THE GIRL WHO COULD READ HEARTS is a well-written story with an engaging plot. The multiple story lines involving Kate, her cousin and her two uncles all flow effortlessly together to create a satisfying, yet obvious conclusion. The book does fall short on character development. Kate has moments that seem to be plucked directly from the mind of the child she is, such as her hearing the phrase “trash chute”, which she interprets as “trash shoot” and wonders why someone would do that to the sheets.
At other times, Kate’s reasoning seems to be far beyond her years. Likewise, her parents and Uncle Terrence Ted seem too virtuous, while her Uncle Vaynem is driven by an evil streak that almost defies understanding. Vaynem’s demise seems rushed in the conclusion and could use additional shaping. Etta Ebella, on the other hand, is effectively used in the deus ex machina and foreshadowing throughout the book.
THE GIRL WHO COULD READ HEARTS is a sweetly optimistic story about a loving family and their response, both physical and spiritual, to the calamities they face. It is an engaging story even for those who would not normally read a book of this type.
~Ed Bennett for IndieReader