More Than Words is a remarkable book: three short novellas that various authors were invited to write, each including a theme about an inspirational social organization. In Carly Phillips’s Compassion Can’t Wait, The Andre Sobel River Of Life Foundation (founded by Valerie Sobel) is represented as giving participants living funds within 24 hours of application so that parents can spend their time with their dying or critically ill child. In Donna Hill’s Someplace Like Home The Family Reconnect Program (founded by Nancy Abrams) is its inspiration, an organization that aids homeless teens and young adults in having supportive relationships and re-integrating with their families either back at home or while living in the community as the story’s protagonist creates a simlar home for displaced teen girls. In Jill Shalvis’s What The Heart Wants WET’S Risk Taker Series (founded by Sasha Eden and Victoria Pettibone) is honored for screening films that challenge female stereotypes and help girls build self-esteem (notably having stars from some of the films like Olympia Dukakis,
Ally Sheedy, Mary Louise-Parker and Lili Taylor speak to the girls afterwards). This organization was the lead character’s saving grace in this story during her own childhood, after which she too started a similar program to help young girls. Each novella has woven into it a romance that shows men helping women who teach younger women (many who’ve come from damaging backgrounds) how to realize their own self-worth and their dreams.
Compassion Can’t Wait has Julia, a hospital social worker, affording 14-year-old Michael some time with a famous baseball player, Kyle Hansen, while his brother Manny is in the hospital with leukemia and his family doesn’t have time to pay attention to him. In this story Julia has had the same experience, when younger, with the death of her sister, and Kyle knew her long ago and abandoned her to pursue his career, but their relationship reignites over their care for Michael.
In Somplace Like Home Verna starts a non-profit home for girls that includes a large library, donated computers, and a garden where everyone can work as they recover from being bounced from home to home. A new volunteer, Ronald Harris, brings romance to Verna’s life as she feels as if she’s always known him, but she is little-prepared for the surprises that are to come.
In What the Heart Wants Ellie is fortunate to have a strong grandmother (now 80) who’s taken her to the WET Risk Taker Series when she was young to show her how to turn her life around. Working as a high school teacher plus running programs and films to give marginalized girls new experiences and guidance, Ellie meets Kia, who is trying to disentangle herself from an abusive relationship, and re-meets Jack, a high school best friend who joined the military and suffered traumas, but now they both feel passion and care for each other. Ellie teaches that “When you take empowered risks to be your true self, amazing things can happen – your dreams become your reality.”
Harlequin donates ten thousand dollars to each of these women’s chosen causes and has long been a leader in supporting and celebrating women who make great differences in the lives of others. I found this book both high informative and enjoyable, and think that teen-aged girls would be enthralled by it. I’m glad that there are books out there in the world that teach that teach young girls how to connect with others and how to be life-long humanitarians.
More Than Words, Volume 7: Compassion Can’t Wait/Someplace Like Home/What The Heart Wants, published on March 22, 2011 as a mass market paperback by Harlequin, 352 pages.
Reviewed by Christina Zawadiwsky
Christina Zawadiwsky is Ukrainian-American, born in New York City, has a degree in Fine Arts, and is a poet, artist, journalist and TV producer. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Award, two Wisconsin Arts Boards Awards, a Co-Ordinating Council of Literary Magazines Writers Award, and an Art Futures Award, among other honors. She was the originator and producer of Where The Waters Meet, a local TV series created to facilitate the voices of artists of all genres in the media, for which she won two national and twenty local awards, including a Commitment to Community Television Award. She is also a contributing editor to the annual Pushcart Prize Anthology, the recipient of an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association, and has published four books of poetry. She currently reviews movies for , music for , and books for .