She Poured Out Her Heart was one of my choices when it was my turn to host book club. I don’t remember what else we voted on, but they probably would have been more exciting than this. Alas, I can only blame myself (and the misleading summary) for making it an option.
Very minor spoilers follow, most of the points below were in the book's summary.
She Poured Out Her Heart followed two friends, Bonnie and Jane, who met in college and seemed destined to stay in each other’s lives. Bonnie, always wild and bouncing from relationship to relationship, was the complete opposite of Jane, who had an idyllic life with her children, husband, and suburban house.
Jane struggled with mental health, however, and beginning one night at a Christmas party, these struggles became obvious to everyone else around her. As Jane began retreating from those she loved, her husband and Bonnie began an affair that changed the women's relationship permanently.
It took me a few tries to start this book; for some reason the first chapter just didn't catch my attention. Once I was in it, it actually read pretty quickly for being over 400 pages long.
I was a little disappointed by the Christmas party event. I was expecting it to be some dramatic evening with repercussions for the rest of the book, but instead Jane’s mental episode quickly ended. Sure, the affair with Bonnie and Jane’s husband Eric started that night, but overall I wasn’t worried about Jane’s mental health. Bonnie just confirmed what I had guessed about her character - untrustworthy. It wasn't an event that startled or moved me very much. However, later on there was one chapter where Jane had a much more chilling mental breakdown. She dragged her kids into the moment unintentionally and terrified them. I think that moment would’ve been a better turning point in the novel than the Christmas event - Jane herself was so shocked she hid what happened.
Jane’s episodes, regardless of which one I thought was better written, were underutilized. I thought this book was going to get into psychology and the women’s relationship as it was affected by Jane, but it didn’t. It was more about the affair and Bonnie wondering if Jane knew and what she’d do next. I think with more real, raw focus on Jane’s mental health, this book would’ve been way better.
Despite the affair, I thought Bonnie was the better character. She wasn’t a good friend and was the stereotypical irresponsible adult who could barely take care of herself and slept with men who mistreated her, but at least she had a personality. (I did like the chapter near the beginning about how her career started, that was a good mix of funny and scary.) Jane was just kind of boring, and straight up malicious at the end. She never really had my sympathy even though I wanted to give it to her.
Jane also had a weird relationship with an ex of Bonnie’s. When I realized Jane was about to fall for the dude (whose name I’ve forgotten) I was annoyed. I think I would’ve rated it higher if not for that. It was just a little too predictable for Bonnie to steal the husband and for Jane to retaliate in such a way. There were some good awkward scenes when the four adults interacted, but it mostly just seemed cliché.
My rating is 2 out of 5; it was an easy read and I liked the author’s writing style a lot, but the story just wasn’t anything special to me.