The Heart Mender is a story within a story: the book starts when the author finds some interesting items while pulling up an old wax myrtle on his property -- buttons, medals and photos sealed in an old can. Thus, begins a quest to figure out what they are and why they are buried on a small island off the coast of Alabama.
As he begins this search, the book goes back to 1942 America ... when the Germans are trawling the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, torpedoing American ships laden with supplies and oil. The Fuhrer has decided that blowing civilian ships out of the water is a necessary part of the overall war-effort and the small, American coastal towns along the way witness the results -- bodies and boxes washed up on the shores of their once-quiet towns.
The book is part mystery, part spy-novel, part romance,part self-help book. The reader's question while reading the book: how much of Andrews' work is fact and how much fiction? Could German spies have landed on the shore-towns? Could this really have happened with little mention in our history classes?
But Andrews' book is much more than the plot-line. The most important aspect of this book is the method Andrews describes through his allegory; a method of how to heal even the most hardened of hearts hurt by the world, a method which is slowly revealed through the characters of this well-written story. Basically, a method of how to heal the broken hearts of us all.
This is a GREAT read ... fast-paced story-line, believable characters and a message that goes deeper than a simple novel. I highly recommend this one -- especially as summer reading. The story would also make a great basis for a unit-study on WW2 and the German Kriegsmarine and their Unterseeboots which mauraded the American coast during 1942, a fact kept hidden for many years by all but the locals.
This book was provided free through Thomas Nelson Publishing's Book Sneeze (where great books are contagious!) program. I was required to write a review but all the comments above are my true view of this book.