“I was still in my PJs, and there was vomit on the bedroom floor, which I had not bothered to clean up, from the night before. I truly was a mess.”
– Cassi, Story of a Secret Heart
This autobiography follows Cassi and her escapades, bad decisions and crazy life after the bitter dissolution of her long-term, 5 year relationship. Alone, in a foreign country and having to find a new home for herself and her cat, it catalogues Cassi’s story from the breakup, to making new friends, and even looks reflexively at the decisions and hardships prior to her relationship ending.
This book is written in an unusual manner. Instead of clearly defined chapters, the author has written in an almost episodic format. Each of the episodes are related to each other but as far shorter than a conventional chapter. This made for quick and fluid reading. It gave the text a conversational tone, as if the reader were sitting down to coffee with a friend who was telling them all these funny, strange and interesting stories.
There were a few grammatical and spelling errors, which are easily fixed and don’t detract from the story. The grammatical errors were largely due to the conversational format of the text and mimicked speech patterns and preferences rather than written conventions. One thing that I feel should be changed is the frequent use of certain phrases, most pointedly: “If I’m completely honest…” It was over used and started to feel very repetitive.
“There, a very tall, handsome man was staring at me with huge, dark brown eyes. It made me very uneasy; the guy was huge, not in a fat way but in a muscular way, looking like a cross between a terrorist and a gangster.”
“‘That’s how they make their money; they mix it with whatever white powder they have,’ I reminded myself never to take cocaine.”
“As far as I could see, there was no reason for them to hate me, but being British, I politely just played along and pretended everything was ok.”
Due to to format and the tone, I found this to be a quick read and managed it in a few hours (while doing other things). Initially, I wasn’t keen on the story and thought that Cassi was either just being obtuse or was an extremely inattentive person. Then I took a moment and thought about everything that had lead her to this point in her life, and realised that most of us would have responded in the same way.
I think the reason I was struggling to reconcile Cassi’s actions after her breakup with what a rational person would do is because I went through all this at a much younger age but was no less self-destructive and inattentive to the world around me. I just had to stop and not focus of being the same age as the author. In that way, this is the perfect book for women who feel like they’re mad for wanting to reinvent themselves after heartache, or women who want to explore that sense of adventure that they have been putting off for too long, and for women who have always had to be responsible and told to be “good little girls”.
I have no doubt that this was cathartic to write and will assist many souls in their own catharsis!
My rating: 3½/5
Buy Story of a Secret Heart on Amazon.