Review of The Key to My Heart by Lia Louis @LisforLia @AtriaBooks

Pretty sure that the key to my heart is a Lia Louis novel!

Blurb: Sparkly and charming Natalie Fincher has it all—a handsome new husband, a fixer-upper cottage of her dreams, and the opportunity to tour with the musical she’s spent years writing. But when her husband suddenly dies, all her hopes and dreams instantly disappear.

Two and a half years later, Natalie is still lost. She works, sleeps (well, as much as the sexually frustrated village foxes will allow), and sees friends just often enough to allay their worries, but her life is empty. And she can only bring herself to play music at a London train station’s public piano where she can be anonymous. She’s lost motivation, faith in love, in happiness…in everything.

But when someone begins to mysteriously leave the sheet music for her husband’s favorite songs at the station’s piano, Natalie begins to feel a sense of hope and excitement for the first time. As she investigates just who could be doing this, Natalie finds herself on an unexpected journey toward newfound love for herself, for life, and maybe, for a special someone.

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We meet Natalie Fincher as she sits at a table with her best friends at a cheesy Mexican restaurant, knowing that at some point they are going to pick out a perfect (tall, dark, handsome, built) stranger that they think she should introduce herself to. They want her to get back on the proverbial horse. It’s been two years since the love of her life, Russ, died after being in an accident. It’s time, they’ve decided. But Natalie isn’t ready. She does meet the man, begs him to play along with her so that her friends believe that she’s given it every attempt. And then she goes home to her house and cat. On some mornings, she plays piano in a subway station. And then someone begins leaving her sheet music to Russ’ favorite songs and Natalie begins to hope that something magical is happening in Lia Louis’ The Key to My Heart.

Once I started this book, I couldn’t put it down and did finish it in one night. The Key to My Heart is comprised of some of my favorite elements: humorous and swoony banter, quirky characters, characters who express realistic emotions and reactions, music, forgiveness, and love, both platonic and romantic.

Like Noelle in the last book Lia Louis book I read, Eight Perfect Hours (my review), Natalie is kind and a little lost, which is to be expected after losing the love of her life. I also like that Louis kept the memory of Russ in tact. She didn’t suddenly make Russ become an ogre so that any romance occurring in the book could be better or purer.

I loved that Shauna, the manager of the coffee shop, is like a surrogate mother to Natalie despite the fact that Natalie’s mother is alive and kicking, but just not the kind of mother who connects easily to her daughter. I loved how Jodie (Natalie’s big sister) is both a little obsessive over her clothes shop yet always welcoming to her sister as is her husband and son. And, I loved how Priya looks out for Natalie without trying to control her life. Oh, and I love Tom, because who wouldn’t?

For me, this is the perfect book: heartwarming, funny, sad, maddening, complicated, a little mysterious, and romantic.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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