In Open Your Heart, Ruth Cherry invites the reader into the mid-life dance of a woman whose picture-perfect life and brilliant career has saddled her with a profound unease. An inner angst gnaws around the edges of her victories and leaves her feeling that there is a lot about being alive that she is not getting.
Anne is both repelled and drawn in by brassy, slovenly Hannah, whose interest in being far exceeds any concern with appearances. The story moves through a series of encounters with characters who appear, uninvited, and refuse to leave until they are heard. I find it even better on the second read, mulling over the personalities and looking at my own life, digging deeper for the thread of commonality that lies at the heart of a good story.
And a good story it is. Cherry writes breezily and well, her descriptions honest, vivid and immediate. The characterizations are distinctly drawn and easily imagined. Scarcely over 100 pages, this is a snappy little book that begs rereading to better grasp the nuances and their deeper meaning.
Reading Open Your Heart reminds me to listen carefully for my own inner voices, so as not to miss the wisdom they may bring. Not a self-help book, it anticipates no nameable malady. Rather, like sitting down with a friend over a pot of tea, I have come away feeling nurtured, with a sense of gentle welcome for those unheard parts of myself, begging to be let in.
Open Your Heart is a book about integrity. Only complete integration of even the messy parts can set things aright and make a person whole. A fabled tale of the unconscious, the familiar personalities who visit Anne might be compared to classic archetypes. She puts a 21st century spin on an idea that is timeless. Reading Open Your Heart has helped open mine a little wider. And for that I am grateful.
-Susan Pyburn, New Life Times