the-way-to-her-heart-by-amy-reecestars-5-0._V192240867_ (1)This is the first book that I have read by Amy Reece, and I am very impressed with her work. I immediately became aware of the quality of her writing style; her characters are well developed and felt believable and relatable to me. This book is targeted for YA, but I am a senior and I loved it.

Bernie Abeyta grabbed my heart. She had known a relatively normal middle-class lifestyle until her father was sent to prison. Then her mother fell apart and so did Bernie’s life. She worked hard to keep her grades high because she was determined to win a scholarship so she could go to college and get an engineering degree.

She hated her mother’s way of life and the men she brought home. One night, when one of those sleazy men tried to get into her bedroom, Bernie quickly grabbed what she could and bailed out the window. She ran to her friend, Gabriela Rodriguez’s place, but Gabby wasn’t there.  Despairing, Bernie snuck back and got her car.  She was only 17 and she was determined not to be put in a foster home, so she did her best to stay under the radar until she was 18 and could rent an apartment. She became one of the many homeless young people.

18-year-old, Josh Harris, had lost his father and younger brother in an accident a year before. He had lived in the fog of grief and depression since then. Medication and counseling didn’t help.  He and his mother, Claire, were very close. They had a luxurious home, plenty of resources and meaningful work. They lived in a completely different socioeconomic situation than Bernie had ever known.

Josh and Bernie were thrown together when they were randomly paired to work on a school assignment. Bernie always went to his place to work on the Economics project. One night, she wasn’t feeling good, and Josh secretly followed her, wanting to make certain that she got home okay. The weather was cold, and he was worried about her. He was shocked when he realized that she slept in her car. He confronted her and insisted that she come to stay at his place. When she refused, he phoned his mother and told her what Bernie had been doing. After she had spoken to Claire, Bernie gave in because the alternative was what she had fought to avoid.

I loved Josh—I would have been proud to have him as a son! He was kind and thoughtful, and a wonderful cook. He always had Bernie’s back and went out of his way to help her and be with her. The events of the past year had changed him. The typical 18-year-old, football jock was gone, and the things that had seemed so important before weren’t anymore. In fact, he felt out of touch with the gang he had hung-out with.

When Bernie realized that Gabby had gone missing, she wouldn’t accept the idea that she had run away. She was determined to find out the truth, and Josh offered to help her.

Josh tried to hide his attraction to Bernie, but he couldn’t deny it to himself—or his smart mother when she confronted him and pointed out that it would be inappropriate for him to get involved with an underage girl, while she lived in their home. Bernie was beautiful, and he feared that someone else would ask her out before she turned eighteen. Then she could get her own apartment, he could tell her how he felt.

The story is complex and has many components: neglect and abuse, debilitating loss, mystery, murder, loyalty, second chances, confused gender-identity, and a very sweet love.   And some great recipes at the end!! Thanks, Amy—I printed them off; they sound wonderful!

I highly recommend The Way to her Heart!

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