EVERY SUPERHERO NEEDS TO START SOMEWHERE…
Dale Sampson is used to being a nonperson at his small-town Midwestern high school, picking up the scraps of his charismatic lothario of a best friend, Mack. He comforts himself with the certainty that his stellar academic record and brains will bring him the adulation that has evaded him in high school. But when an unthinkable catastrophe tears away the one girl he ever had a chance with, his life takes a bizarre turn as he discovers an inexplicable power: He can regenerate his organs and limbs.
When a chance encounter brings him face to face with a girl from his past, he decides that he must use his gift to save her from a violent husband and dismal future. His quest takes him to the glitz and greed of Hollywood, and into the crosshairs of shadowy forces bent on using and abusing his gift. Can Dale use his power to redeem himself and those he loves, or will the one thing that finally makes him special be his demise? The Heart Does Not Grow Back is a darkly comic, starkly original take on the superhero tale, introducing an exceptional new literary voice in Fred Venturini.
The Heart Does Not Grow Back is the first novel from author Fred Venturini and is a thought provoking debut with interesting characters and an original plot. Although outside of what I normally read, I really enjoyed it!
We follow Dale Sampson and his best friend from sixth grade, when they first really meet and become friends, all the way through adulthood. In those years they deal with the ups and downs associated with growing up. First crushes, the obnoxious bully, getting into fights, social awkwardness…but that’s where the similarities with what most of us experience, to what he experiences, ends.
There is a terrible tragedy when the obnoxious bully does something I never saw coming, and it was shocking. It was that life event that turned Dale’s life upside-down and when he finds out he can regenerate limbs. It should be a blessing, one would think….but it begs the question: what do you do if you’re pretty much immortal? How do you handle that responsibility?
It takes Dale to a very dark place and he remains there for quite some time until almost the very end, when he makes a life changing decision. It was a thing of dark beauty to watch Dale grow from his life experiences and I loved that aspect. Reading the road he travels, where his unnatural ability takes him, who he ends up helping, all added up to a fantastic story where making sacrifices went from a quest for fame to a journey of self discovery.
There were dark moments and moments of hope. Sad moments and moments of joy. The Heart Does Not Grow back was written thoughtfully and with a fresh voice. If you’re in the mood for a story out of your norm, this is definitely a book to go to!
“To age is to embrace a slow hurt inside and out, to collect scars like rings on a tree, dark and withered and sometimes only visible if someone cuts deep enough. Scars keep the past close enough to touch, but healing is forgetting. Healing invites another cut. Healing is the tide that smoothes away our line in the sand. For life to begin, the damage must be permanent.”
About the author:
Fred Venturini grew up in Patoka, Illinois. The Heart Does Not Grow Back is his first novel. His short fiction has been published in the Booked Anthology, Noir at the Bar 2, and Surreal South ’13. In 2014, his story “Gasoline” will be featured in Chuck Palahniuk’s Burnt Tongues collection. He lives in Southern Illinois with his wife and daughter.