Book Review: They Are Trying to Break Your Heart by David Savill

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They Are Trying to Break Your Heart 1Goodreads Synopsis: In 1994, Marko Novak’s world is torn apart by the death of his best friend, Kemal, a young soldier in the darkest days of the Bosnian war. After the funeral, Marko flees to England, hoping to put his broken homeland, and the part he played in the loss of his friend, behind him.

In 2004, human rights researcher Anya Teal is following a tenuous lead in the hunt for a Bosnian man with blood on his hands. She is also clinging to the fragile hope that she can rebuild a relationship with her first love, William Howell. When Anya invites Will to join her on a Christmas holiday in the Thai beach resort of Khao Lak, she hopes the holiday will offer them the chance to unpick the mistakes of their past. But Khao Lak may also be home to the man Anya is looking for-a man with a much darker history.

What nobody knows is that a disaster as destructive as a war is approaching, detonated in the seabed of the Indian Ocean, one that will connect the fates of Marko, William, and Anya, across the years and continents. In its wake, everything Marko thought he knew will be overturned.

Author: David Savill

Title: They Are Trying to Break your Heart

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Date: 2016

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There’s no doubt that your reading experience influences how you feel about a novel. With They Are Trying to Break Your Heart, it is the first time that having an ARC has worked against me. The formatting wasn’t quite right and it took me a while to get into it for the practical reason that I had to get into a rhythm of how to read it.

Even once I adjusted to the format, I was unsure of what was going on for the first part of the book. The narration follows three stories, across three time zones. It not only bounces between the narrators, but between present day, the time of the Tsunami and the time of the Bosnian wars.

The chapters were all signposted as to which date they were in. But this constant change meant that it was hard to get an initial hold on the characters – especially as they have changed from their youths to now. You couldn’t get to their essence, or see their development, when you were constantly reading back and forth. Especially as not all the characters exist in the different times!

He thinks about putting it down, and walking away, but holding the handle of the case, he feels like he did the one and only time he touched an electric fence. It was in a field of horses. The horses had turned and were running towards him. William thought he was coming back for Anya, but it is Anya who has come back for him.

That being said, the book grew on me as I went. It began to become clear how the stories were slotting together and once you could make connections, you began to understand the characters, their motives and who they were as individuals.

Anya is determined to get to the bottom of a war-crime story through her work with human rights, even if that means travelling across the globe to reunite with an old lover in order to get closer to her object of investigation. But the reader glimpses her uncertainty, her self-doubt that she shouldn’t be doing this, preventing her from being cold and calculating.

For the majority of the novel, William is a mess. But as events are revealed, it is easy to see why. Despite the jolts with the time, you can see William’s character development in the present-day narration alone.: you witness his battle with grief and whether, for the first time in years, he can start to move on and live again.

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Marco’s character boils down to his quest for the truth, refusing to believe his adopted brother and hero could have committed the atrocities he is accused of. Marco learns to find peace through the novel and his character leaves you with a feeling of contentment that he got what he was looking for. The location as to where Marco was confused me – I thought they were in Cambridge, then realised he wasn’t even in England at that point!

They Are Trying to Break Your Heart got better as it went along when you start to realise how the stories might connect rather than isolated narrations. It also has more impact now I am looking back a few days after completing it.

Full of love and loss, this novel explores what you are prepared to do to hold onto the memory of the ones you love.

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