DiscoverComing of Age

April's Heart

By

Worth reading 😎

A fun, easy and engaging coming of age read that perfectly encapsulates the emotional drama of bittersweet teenage years.

Synopsis

April Schweiter falls for Mitch Hudgins, putting an end to childhood, changing her life forever. Her dysfunctional family is only one problem in her way.

Mitch Hudgins can’t get enough of April either. She stirs in him surprising passion that is unfamiliar and needs to be explored.

But they say goodbye when they attend schools in different towns. Surely staying together wouldn't work out. But they were crazy for each other! Would breaking up work out?

"April choked down a sob. She was still emotional at the realization of the future of her romance with the guy who took her virginity, the guy who once told her he loved her, the guy she fought for, the guy with whom she was really very happy with. She was heartbroken but didn’t know it yet.

“What are we going to do Mitch?” April whispered.
“I don’t know April, I just don’t see how…” This time it was April who kissed him. She didn’t want him to say what he was going to say. Mitch didn’t want to say it anyway. They wanted things to stay the way they were, but that was impossible."

What happens lovers whose romance is riddled with breakups?

April’s Heart is a coming of age novel following April Schweiter, an all-American girl, from the age of thirteen. The book is in four parts and set in the late 1970s through to 1980s. We primarily follow the rollercoaster relationship between her and Mitchell Hudgins. This on/off romance is played out among April’s tribulations with family and friends as well as her path through High School and College.  


I found April’s Heart entertaining but, at times, exhausting. Personally, I think the book should have begun with April a little older, fifteen perhaps, and been a little shorter. Part One certainly captures the unsophisticated logic of a young teenager and first love. Ms Ferr writes with a short sentence construct which makes for a fast, enthusiastic tempo. There is a lot of telling in her narrative which does lend some of the passages a slightly one-dimensional feel. However, April is an interesting character and I liked that she was aware of her flaws and yet was confident in her abilities despite them. As the novel progresses, you do sense her personality mature; thought processes clearly become more refined and less naïve.  There were times I wanted to slap her, times I found her funny and times I nodded knowingly.  Ms Ferr nicely captures and immerses you in the melting pot of teenage scheming, angst, and heartbreak. Her subjectivity and passion for telling this story is obvious throughout and especially towards the end.


I did find some parts repetitive, although the situation with Harriet; her Mother, provided a break from the on/off Mitch narrative and I would have liked this explored further or returned to later in the novel. There were a few loose ends with her familial relationships which don’t impact on the main thrust of the book but it would have added some depth if these had been delved into more.


The scenes between April and Mitch are nicely written and really redolent of those teenage moments. I felt the butterflies for both of them.I also found the late 70s/80s backdrop refreshing due to the lack of technology but, ironically, I thought the Spotify links were a nice addition.  


Despite reservations concerning the length and occasional superficiality of April’s Heart, I would certainly recommend it for a fun, easy and engaging read that perfectly encapsulates the emotional drama of those bittersweet teenage years. 

Reviewed by

I am a self-published Author, Reviewer and Blogger based in London, England. I have been reviewing for a couple of years through Goodreads but just personal reading. Recently, I decided to create an actual blog where Authors can request reviews and engage with my blog and writing.

Synopsis

April Schweiter falls for Mitch Hudgins, putting an end to childhood, changing her life forever. Her dysfunctional family is only one problem in her way.

Mitch Hudgins can’t get enough of April either. She stirs in him surprising passion that is unfamiliar and needs to be explored.

But they say goodbye when they attend schools in different towns. Surely staying together wouldn't work out. But they were crazy for each other! Would breaking up work out?

"April choked down a sob. She was still emotional at the realization of the future of her romance with the guy who took her virginity, the guy who once told her he loved her, the guy she fought for, the guy with whom she was really very happy with. She was heartbroken but didn’t know it yet.

“What are we going to do Mitch?” April whispered.
“I don’t know April, I just don’t see how…” This time it was April who kissed him. She didn’t want him to say what he was going to say. Mitch didn’t want to say it anyway. They wanted things to stay the way they were, but that was impossible."

What happens lovers whose romance is riddled with breakups?

Chapter One

Monday September 5, 1977 Labor Day

April Schweiter was staring out the window of the back seat of her father’s station wagon as they proceeded south, returning from spending the Labor Day weekend at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, as they’ve done for years. School was going to start the next day, as it always had in Brokerstown, New Jersey. It was the last day of April’s almost one month grounding that began on her birthday in early August.

April thought back to that day. The yelling, the high heeled shoes being thrown at her head, the sudden end to the surprise party for her 13th birthday.

It had started out well, everyone was having fun. Especially nipping off the bottle of whiskey that was pilfered out of her garage.

“Happy Birthday dear April! Happy Birthday to you!” Her smiling young friends sang in the backyard that opened up from the basement. The white stone gravel patio was sparingly decorated with helium balloons. There were burgers on the built in gas grill and a pink cake on the wooden table that matched the rest of the outdoor furniture.

“Whoa! Thanks guys! This is outta sight! I never had a surprise party before!” Somehow April knew to wear her new white short shorts and red tube top that she bought at the mall with the money she earned for picking weeds in the yard.

April’s parents finished the burgers, wished her a happy birthday, and disappeared for the rest of the evening. They knew they were not wanted at the first boy-girl party at April’s house.

April was cute for a 13 year old, but she was going for “sexy” more than “cute”. She wore no makeup, her parents wouldn’t let her. She was slender and her hair was

blonder than usual, due to the fact her family had just returned from a month long vacation down the shore. A lot transpired during that month, a chance to live a life separate from her friends back home. What they didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them, she thought. But she couldn’t wait to confide in her best friend Cassie about some parts. The boys, the partying, what she experienced and learned about all that.

“Happy Birthday April!” It was Vince, her next door neighbor. He was a childhood friend a year younger than April. He handed her a small package. “I whittled this at Boy Scouts!“ April opened the small box with the gold foil top, obviously taken from one of his sisters’ rooms. It was a wooden cross laying atop a wad of cotton balls from the bathroom. “Wow! Vince! This is so cool!” He suddenly gave April a peck on the cheek. Vince’s face turned red, April giggled a little too loudly, and Vince turned and walked quickly away.

The sun was starting to set when Michael and Paul, boys from a nearby neighborhood, started passing around a bottle of whiskey. April watched Melissa Trotter take a small swig.

A hand grabbed April’s shoulder and turned her. “I got you this present April! I stole it from Woolworths!” Jay was Vince’s brother. He was older than April, turning thirteen back in December. He had classic Italian good looks; dark messy hair, rounded nose, dimple in his chin. They were close friends, but recently things were beginning to change between them. April wasn’t sure if it was good or bad, but she liked the way it made her feel. Jay was certainly going out of his way to pay more attention to her. More than he did when they would play in the woods in their backyards, or in the street playing kickball with everyone.

The gift was a green hoodie. April would wear that hoodie for years to come under a white down vest that had rainbow stripes running up the front and down the back.

April put the box down and Jay and April walked over to where Melissa had just involuntarily shivered upon taking another swallow of the illicit whiskey.

“Where’d you get that?” Jay asked. “In April’s garage!” Paul replied. “Can you believe it! There was a whole case lyin’ right there!”

Actually Jay could believe it. The neighborhood kids were familiar with the contents of April’s parent’s garage. April did not know why her parents only went to the liquor store twice a year, but there was a lot more than just a case of whiskey in there.

It wasn’t the first time a bottle was lifted either. April swiped a bottle of vodka and brought it down the shore. Actually, April had Jay do it one time when the garage was standing open. It always seemed as if April’s mother watched her like a hawk, so she dared not be seen with a vodka bottle when her mother could step into the garage at any moment. Jay hid the bottle in the bushes, as any hell-raising teenage friend would do, and April managed to sneak it upstairs and into her luggage.

Paul Murphy and Michael Hill were from a neighborhood on the other side of Sussex Avenue. It was in walking distance and recently they seemed to end up outside in front of April’s house all the time. April wondered if her mother actually invited them to the party. She made a mental note to ask her tomorrow.

That question never got asked. It wasn’t too much later when April’s mother threw open the sliding glass doors from the kitchen and appeared on the deck that hovered over the backyard. She started screaming. “You bastards get outta my property! Now! I’ll call all your parents! April? Where are you? In! Now!” Her voice was loud, shaky and somewhat slurred.

April was on the side of the house in the shadows, under her bedroom window, taking a hit off a joint with Cassie. Cassie had a sister in high school and was buddy-buddy with some of her pot-smoking friends.

“Holy shit Cassie! My mother’s gone ape-shit!” April waved her hand attempting to clear the pot smoke away. She went running around the corner.

“Mom! I’m right here!” “Go guys! You’ve got to go!” she yelled to the audience still in attendance in the backyard. She ran into the basement and up the stairs.

“Mom! What’s going on?!” Just then April’s dad stepped in front of her blocking her progress toward the kitchen. His face was red and he was trying to hold his composure. “I got mom to go upstairs.” He explained. “Mrs. Trotter called to say that Melissa arrived home drunk tonight.” April’s face feigned shock. “Would you like to explain how that happened?” her dad said. “Dad! I have no idea!” April lied. “Really!” she continued. “We were dancing and eating cake!”

The only dancing going on were the boys wrestling like they always do to show off, and the rest of the cake was finished off when the munchies set in. In fact Linda and Dennis tried to feed cake to Melissa before her mom picked her up to try to sober her up.

Suddenly April’s mom came barreling down the stairs, turned the corner at the bottom, saw April and her dad, and threw a high heeled shoe at April’s head. Janet and Tim, awakened by the commotion came quickly down the stairs just in time to see April reflexively block the shoe with her arms. It clattered to the floor as the shoe’s mate came hurtling through hallway along the same path as the first one. Janet and Tim burst into tears upon the realization of their mother throwing spiky shoes at her daughter.

“For cryin’ out loud Harriet! What the hell?” April’s dad rushed over to his crazed wife and ushered her back up the stairs as Harriet yelled, “How could you! You bastard! You’re grounded for a month!”

When he finally came back downstairs he found Janet and Tim, aged 11 and 10, consoling and soothing each other, as close siblings do, eating Pop Tarts in the kitchen. Once he got them back in bed, he found April in her room on her phone. It was the Princess phone and private phone number she got for her last birthday after her parents

got fed up with not having the house phone available for their own use. Janet couldn’t wait till she turned 12 and would get one too. April quickly hung up the phone, not even saying goodbye to whoever it was she was talking too, remembering the 1 month grounding.

“April, I’m dog-tired and can’t talk anymore tonight. We’ll have to talk more about this, but I’m trying to figure out if you even did anything wrong.” He sounded sad more than upset. April was counting her lucky stars she didn’t get caught smoking pot with Cassie.

About the author

I grew up in northern New Jersey with my 2 siblings. We share treasured memories of high school and the Jersey shore, all of which became part of April's Heart! I live in Virginia Beach, Virginia with my husband of thirty years. Our two boys are in their twenties making their own way in the world. view profile

Published on January 21, 2020

Published by

110000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Coming of Age

Reviewed by

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