Restless Hearts Review by Arnold Shapiro

Hello Dennis,
Yesterday, I finished your novel and I wanted to think about it for 24 hours before responding.

I really enjoyed reading your book which I found to be memorable, happy and sad, and most enlightening and thought-provoking. The only disappointment I had was that Frankie could not come back to Sara. I understand why from a story POV, but emotionally I wished it. My “Plan B” wish was that someday, Pete and Sara would become a couple.

I’ve never read a novel where real names were used for fictional characters who were not modeled after the real people. That’s unique. That’s why your epilogue was one of my favorite chapters of your book because you explained all that along with the photos — and that your sister is named Ruth!

I was also surprised that the majority of your characters decided not to return to their earthly lives because they thought it best to leave things the way they were. I wasn’t expecting that and it impressed me. Clearly, those characters were selfless men. But the story that brought lots of tears to my eyes was the reuniting of Tony and Ruth, and her returning to the age she was when Tony died. A beautiful touch that is unforgettable and wonderful.

Also, I was impressed that you offered two ways for the reader to go in terms of the “reality” of the story. One, to believe that these magical transformations actually happened and that the spirits did and said the things you wrote about (the fantasy explanation). Or, that in both sequences, Pete was unconscious and was asleep and imagined all the action that occurred (a logical explanation). I like that you offered the reader a choice — logic or fantasy.

Finally, the chronicle of Sara staying with Frankie’s body all night – that entire sequence in the detail you wrote it seemed like that really happened to someone you know. It was so powerful, so real, so emotional (more tears), that I felt that a real event inspired what you wrote. Am I right? I will long remember that part of your novel together with Tony and Ruth reuniting.

Your book impressed me and left a very positive impression upon me. Thank you for sending me a copy. I’m happy I read it. There’s a lot to think about after finishing your book. I think you achieved every goal you had when you set out to write this story. Congratulations on this accomplishment in your life!
The fact that a photo resulted in your writing one of the most moving and detailed sequences in your novel is proof of what a good and imaginative and effective writer you are. I was convinced that the “grieving” sequence was based on an actual event that someone close to you experienced pretty much as written. That’s how realistic that sequence is, as written. To the true novelist in you — congratulations.