The Heart of Henry Quantum by Pepper Harding: Book Review

The Heart of Henry Quantum

Obtained: Simon & Schuster Canada, ARC
Pages: 288
Publish date: October 4, 2016
Rating: DNF

I was contemplating writing a “Did Not Finish” review for this book, and ultimately decided I should write at least a little something as to why I put the book down – I did think I’d like this one. I don’t typically write DNF reviews unless something particularly sets me off, but I found I did have some things to say about this one.

The Heart of Henry Quantum tells the story of Henry “Bones” Quantum (a name which in itself makes me angry – that’s like calling an optimistic character “Hope”). He decides two days before Christmas it’s time to get a bottle of perfume for his wife for Christmas, when he runs into an ex-lover and the wheels of “what if” start to turn in his head.

If anyone knows me, you know how annoyed I get with stories such as this. The “Boy is dating/married to girl. Girl gets villainized. Boy wishes he were dating/married to his best friend/ex-girlfriend/the one that got away/etc.”. It’s been done a million times, and frankly, as someone who loves love, I’m annoyed by people constantly telling this story. It’s gotten to the point where I am impressed by books where the main plot is supplemented by a couple who fight the antagonist together rather than fighting each other.

And maybe I would be less annoyed if the wife weren’t villainized so much. If this is going to be the story, at least maybe show everyone in it as rounded humans who bring both positive and negative to the table. It was 100 pages in when I gave up on this, and literally all I knew about Henry’s wife was that she was a snobby workaholic who criticized him about almost everything. Again, on the opposite end of  that spectrum, his ex-lover, Daisy. She shows up and is simultaneously one-dimensional, but she is super perfect.

Then it got to the point in Henry and Daisy’s conversation where he starts to think about his wife, and he describes her in comparison to Daisy, saying they’re both “smart, pretty, and funny”. That’s about where I gave up on this book. Those three words are pretty flat, aren’t they? It’s like a teenager describing what he likes about a girl when he doesn’t really know how he feels yet. Is there nothing else to the women in this novel besides who they are to Henry, their looks, and those three vague descriptors?

In its defense, the book does have two other parts to the novel from the two women’s points of view, which I didn’t read far enough to get into. I really hope that those sections allow Margaret and Daisy to flourish in a way that Henry’s part didn’t let them. I also quite liked the stream of consciousness narrative that the author wrote for Henry. I was just too annoyed by where the story was going to continue reading it. Maybe I just don’t like books that centre around a love conflict, I don’t know.

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