Judge, 24th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

A CROWDED HEART by Andrea McKenzie Raine is a clear work of historical fiction focusing on an emotional soldier who is coming to terms with his past. Digging into the novel, I was pleased with the engaging writing. The very first scene of the book is inviting and the reader gets to understand the main character, Willis, in a positive light with his sense of humor. The structure of the novel is quite different than others. The author decided to introduce each character with the bold headline of the character’s name. When we get to SAM, I was interested in this complicated character as well, but wondered why the author decided to present him and other characters following him in this way. It was distracting to me. There was too much information at once. For ELLIE, the love to Willis’s life – the romance there was on the surface and I’d wish for the author to dig a little deeper with the romantic elements. I liked the letters, but it felt too redundant. I wanted something different – I wanted something at stake other than Willis’ emotional state. We needed something more concrete to set off the story. Overall, the author is talented – her prose are well-done, her dialogue is natural, yet the story didn’t speak to me as much as it should have. Willis’s personal goals were not enough for me to feel fully invested in the story line. The package of the book is attractive, with a beautiful cover image and nice layout for the back cover copy. The author has potential, so I will keep my eye out for her next work.

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