Cover Image: My Heart Went Walking

My Heart Went Walking

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Member Reviews

I loved this heartwarming story about sisters, true love, strength, hope, tragedy. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this early release in exchange for my review.
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Una Gallagher lives in Donegal, Ireland, with her parents and younger siblings. Una shares a room with her sister Ellie and her best friends at high school are Tanya and Cullen. Growing up in a small village, everyone knows your business, and it’s hard to keep anything a secret. After one youthful night of drunken passion, and Una’s pregnant and Cullen’s the father.  

Una’s mum’s not very happy with her daughter, she wants to send her to stay with the nuns, and put her baby up for adoption. Una wants to keep her baby, despite not have a lot of money and a proper plan, and she runs away to Dublin. By leaving home in such a rush you do question Una’s decision making and of course she’s very young and scared. Una turns to the Protestant church for help, father John finds a couple Des and Catherine who offer her a place to stay. Una misses her family, but she feels like she can’t return home due to her pregnancy and her mother’s beliefs about unwed mothers. I was a teenager myself in the 1980’s, people did think very differently than about single mothers and unplanned pregnancies, and fortunately times have changed.

Ellie’s now sixteen and dating Cullen and Una discovers her sister is sick with Leukemia. Una loves Ellie, she wants to help her beat the terrible disease, and Una’s shocked when she visits Ellie the first time in hospital. Una made a mistake, she’s forced to grow up very quickly, accept the consequences of her actions, and she’s a wonderful mother and helps Ellie in her time of need.

I received a copy of My Heart Went Walking from NetGalley and Fire Drinkers Publishing in exchange for an honest review, the stories about family ties and the bond between sisters, second chances, and the past doesn’t define a teenage girls future and her being able to move forward. A great debut novel by author Sally Hanan, and I loved the references to 80’s music, fashion and makeup trends, and three and a half stars from me.
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My Heart Went Walking
by: Sally Hanan
Fire Drinkers Publishing

     With a richly crafted narrative and captivating Irish setting, Hanan's writing won't let go of your heart for the entirety of this book. 1980s Donegal and Dublin provide the atmospheric locale for the immersive story of two sisters and the young man they both loved. 
     Unexpected life circumstances forced Una to make decisions at the young age of sixteen that would affect both her future and those of her sister Ellie and friend Cullen. Hanan gives us the diverse yet intertwining perspectives of all three main characters, allowing readers to feel their uncertainty and distress as events unfolded. Each character showed determination, courage, and purpose as they grew and changed in the progression of their lives and relationships. 
     Family bonds, cultural expectations, and community relations supplement and deepen the central story of Una, Ellie, and Cullen. This is a beautifully perceptive novel that stirred my emotions and made me think about choice, regret, acceptance, and ultimately, hope. The directions that our lives take can change in an instant, taking us to the most unexpected places in our search for truth, healing, and resolve. 
Thank you to Net Galley and Fire Drinkers Publishing for the advance readers copy and opportunity to provide my unbiased review.
 #Irishfiction #NetGalley
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In a Nutshell: A debut Irish fiction with teenage characters dealing with not-so-teenaged issues. The book is engrossing, with just a little more fine-tuning required to make it stand out.

1983, Donegal, Ireland. Seventeen year old Una Gallagher discovers that she is pregnant after a drunken post-party romp with her best friend Cullen. When her mother threatens to send her away to the nuns, Una realises that the only way to keep her baby safe is to run away from home. Her younger sister Ellie is the most heartbroken at her sister’s unexplained disappearance. Cullen too is devastated as he doesn’t know the reason behind Una’s decision. Ellie and Cullen come close to each other in their sorrow. But soon an event occurs which threatens their happiness. Will the three youngsters be able to get their life back on track?
The story comes to us in the first person perspectives of Una, Ellie and Cullen.

Where the book worked for me:
❤ The book begins with a pronunciation guide of the Irish names and locations, and a glossary of the local lingo used. A big thank you to the author for this.

❤ The author makes good use of Irish slang in the story, lending the characters an authentic sound. 

❤ The dialogues are where the author truly shines. The three character perspectives are teenagers, and every line of theirs is exactly as someone of their age would speak. It was one of the most natural-sounding dialogue writing I’ve seen in a novel in a long time. 

❤ There are some really beautiful lines in the novel. One of my favourites was: “Gossip is like petrol in this town; it runs a lot of motors, starts a lot of fires.”

❤ I loved the way Ellie’s and Cullen’s characters were written. Because they were so sincere and sweet in their distinct ways, I could connect to both of them easily.

❤ There are frequent mini time jumps and while this was a risky approach to follow, I liked how they worked in this story. 

Where the book could have worked better for me:
💔 The plot is a bit too meandering at times because of its conversational casual approach. 

💔 While the dialogues feel quite genuinely Irish, the story itself doesn’t make much use of the setting. Except for a mention of Donegal and Dublin and some other places, there is nothing to make the locale feel Irish. It could have taken place anywhere. 

💔 There are some plot points that weren’t quite convincing to me. This is mainly in Una’s perspective, where there were a few logical jumps, and too many convenient turns in the events to take the story ahead smoothly.

💔 I didn’t like Una. Though her perspective should have kept me the most emotionally involved, I found myself tuning out of her narration because she seemed too shortsighted and self-oriented and even irriating at times. As one-third of the book roughly is about her, my enjoyment of it slipped downwards.

💔 The first person voices are a bit confusing because though there’s no overlap in the nature of the characters (Una is courageous but judgemental; Cullen is pragmatic and sad, Ellie is idealistic and cheerful), the writing misses out on their individuality and makes them sound very similar in their thoughts. So it's easy to get confused about which character is speaking. 

Overall, this was a very good debut novel that brings to life the story of three teenagers caught in unusual circumstances. A nice, emotional and uplifting read.

3.5 stars from me, rounding up to 4.

My thanks to Fire Drinkers Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC of “My Heart Went Walking”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.
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This story broke my heart.  Our main character, Una leaves home in the opening pages of the book after a fight with her mother after telling her she's pregnant.  She also opts not to tell the father of the baby because she doesn't want to limit his life choices.  Hence, she takes it all upon herself and leaves town intent on raising the baby on her own.

The book tells about who she meets along the way in Dublin that help her and basically take her in.  A second family in a way.  It also tells the story of the people left behind and how their lives move forward too.  Even though time passes, Una never really gets over the baby's father.  There are several plot lines that gradually weave together again towards the second half of the book.

I was frustrated with some of the character's actions, but it was still a good book.  I enjoyed the writing style of the area as it was set in Ireland,  

Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC.  I voluntarily chose to review it and the opinions contained within are my own.
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I really enjoyed this story set in Ireland about Una, her sister Ellie, and Cullen the boy they both love. That set up may sound cliche' but it's the love of family that permeates the novel and sets it apart. Each individual is young, flawed, and also admirable. You do see the story twist coming but that doesn't make it less interesting or heartfelt. All in all a very readable story of some characters I enjoyed visiting.
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This book is a fabulous read, the connections that unite family and friends are explored as the story unfolds, the plot is sure to touch your heart.
I enjoyed the method of writing, the exploration of emotions that bounce off the pages and the development of the main characters, Una and her sister Ellie.
Choices and adult decisions are made in this wonderful debut novel, consequences faced along with romance, friendships, discovery and new beginnings.
This wonderful journey that we travel on with Una and Ellie is definitely a must read, I’m keen to read more from this author.

Thanks to the publisher, NetGalley and the very talented Sally Hanan for the opportunity to read this wonderful book.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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My Heart Went Walking follows the story of Una, who becomes pregnant and runs away from her family and friends, and we experience all of the emotions and fallout from her decisions. Set in Ireland, the story is reminiscent of Maeve Binchy books. Family, friends, emotions, and connections are at the heart of this charming tale. I read it in one sitting!

Thank you to Fire Drinkers Publishing and NetGalley for this ARC.
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My Heart Went Walking is a compelling and poignant novel about the choices people make, and the far-reaching impact those choices make for so many others. Set in Ireland in the 1980’s, it is the story of Una, her best friend Cullen, and her sister Ellie. The lyrical writing and twisting emotions are evocative of the work of Maeve Binchy, and debut author has given us a warm cast of characters and a story that is captivating. There are secrets, there is heartache, but there is also love, friendship, and family to provide hope for the wonderful people who live on the pages of this book.
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Sixteen year old Una Gallagher admits to her Mam that she’s pregnant. In her shock her mother tells her that she’ll have the babe and it’ll be given to the nuns and put up for adoption. Una hears the news and runs away to Dublin, desperate to keep her baby. The story follows Una, her best friend Cullen & her sister as they try to find her. 

I absolutely loved this story!  Una is such an authentic & perfectly flawed character.  Her journey of the heart, to become a mother and to ultimately do the right thing gripped me from the beginning and held me close throughout.  The book is set in 1980’s Ireland, from small town Donegal to Dublin. 

This is Sally Hannan’s debut novel release and I’m looking forward to reading more from her!  Thank you @netgalley and Fire Drinkers Publishing for the advance copy.  Book is released on February 5th.
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Una Gallagher, a 16-year-old living in Donegal, a small Irish village, confesses to her mother that she's pregnant. Rather than give her baby to the nuns for adoption as her mother insists, she lies to her friend Cullen about who is the baby's father and runs away to Dublin.

I really enjoyed this book and found the characters to be very authentic. The story is told from the POVs of Una, her younger sister Ellie, and Cullen, Una's childhood best friend. The book was well written and very easy to read. The ending was really of the too good to be true class but it was heart-warming. I feel like Sally Hanan is extremely proud of this book and she has every right to be. I'll definitely be on the look-out for whatever she does next. 3.5 rounded up to 4 Stars.

The author has provided a glossary of Irish terms and English equivalents which is very helpful.

My thanks to Netgalley, Fire Drinkers Publishing and the author for the opportunity to read an ARC of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

Publication Date: February 5, 2022
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Sally Hanan’s new novel "My Heart Went Walking" is a sweeping story told from the shifting perspectives of characters about whom you will care.
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This story which is set in the 80s Ireland is about 2 sisters Una and Ellie and their common friend Cullen. Una leaves her rural home when she gets pregnant leaving behind her heart and life.
I loved the plot of this has so many emotions of love, loss, grief, acceptance and redemption.
It was an enjoyable read and I would look out for authors other work in future.
Thank you Netgalley and the publishers for this arc in exchange for my honest opinion.
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This debut novel by Sally Hanan was wonderful and and I hope she writes many more.  It’s a coming of age story in 80’s Ireland about two sisters. They’re both faced with several major life changing decisions. I really appreciated that everything doesn’t turn out perfectly tidy though I was very happy with how it ended.  It definitely pulls at all the heart strings of love, sadness, family ties, growing up and more.  I highly recommend this one.  Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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My Heart Went Walking – and so it did, together with Una’s, Ellie’s and Cullen’s. This story felt so real – it was heart-warming, sad, raw and emotional. The dialogues were some of my favourite parts of the book and I marked quite a few quotes for myself. All the characters grew special to me, it’s a gem of a book. I adored Sally Hanan’s writing style and highly recommend this read I would happily read any future book of hers, too. Many thanks to NetGalley, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for a review.
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My Heart Went Walking by Sally Hanan

In 1980s Donegal, Ireland, 16 year old Una leaves her home and family behind when she becomes pregnant, believing it to be the best course of action for her and her baby.  We follow the ups and downs of her new life in Dublin and her family back home in Donegal.  

I loved this book and it definitely deserves the comparison with Maeve Binchy's books.  Some serious issues are dealt with but in a heartwarming way, the characters are so realistic with all their quirks and flaws, and the story is a real page-turner.  Very highly recommended!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book.
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This book is part women's fiction, part historical fiction set in Ireland in the 1980s. Written from the perspective of 3 characters (sisters, Una & Ellie + their friend, Cullen), it is aptly described as 'An Irish tale of love, loss and redemption'.

The plot to this book was both unique and intriguing. The author did a great job at getting you wanting to know what was going to happen to the characters next. I also think this book did a good job at capturing the Irish lingo and I really enjoyed how that aspect of the book brought the characters to life.

However, I didn't have any strong feelings for or against the characters which is maybe why I feel a little blah about this book. The ending was also a little too wrapped up tight with a bow with everything all worked out for all the characters.
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Wonderful book so true to life now!   Love how everything does work when you ask and don't just think you know what someone is thinking
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Thank you for NetGalley for giving me a copy of this book. 

This is my literary fiction and I loved it.
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A beautifully written coming-of-age story.  Set in Ireland in the 1980s, the influence of the catholic church at the time led to the main character making a decision that would influence not only her own life but that of her family and best friend.  It was a joy to read - a story of hope and forgiveness.  It was truly lovely.  Highly recommended.
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