Paper Hearts by Claire Contreras

“Real love stories never end.” 

Paper Hearts

Blurb via Goodreads:

I lost her.

No, I didn’t lose her. I threw her away.

She was my best friend.

I was never supposed to fall in love with her.

I was careless.

She was heartbroken.

I was doing fine until she came back into my life and reminded me what love was supposed to feel like.

When it’s all said and done, she may not want to stay, but this time I’m going to do everything in my power to not let her go.


WARNING! Read this if you have the luxury of staying in to avoid the risk of going out with puffy eyes. Believe me, I’ve been there. I had to put off writing this review because I felt like I just had to give my heart time to breathe first.

So this novel, Paper Hearts……

IT.

BLEW.

ME.

AWAY!!!!!

I flew from Kaleidoscope Hearts to Torn Hearts to Paper Hearts without so much as an emotional break that I can literally feel my heart berating me for exposing her to such raw emotions. (And yes, I referred to my heart as a female).

We met Mia and Jensen in Kaleidoscope Hearts and all we know from there is that they were in a relationship but broke up and no longer on speaking terms. We can gather that what happened was really bad that Mia still refused to speak with Jensen. Personally, I loved Mia’s character and spunk but wasn’t able to give them much thought because, well, Oliver!! And then, we learned of their history in Torn Hearts and pieces came together, making the Mia-Jensen vibe from Kaleidoscope Hearts much more understandable (and infuriating). I had high expectations for this novel and Claire once more delivered a story that is flawless and gutting, exquisite and unforgettable.

“And I say to you, Mia Bennett—my photographer, my eyes, the girl of my dreams, the villain in my nightmares—that everything I owe, I owe to the night you let me look into your eyes and see the possibilities the world had to offer.” 

Mia and Jensen’s love story didn’t happen overnight. Perhaps it was the best element of the story because everything that they have was rooted on friendship and took years to build. In a generation wherein everything seems to be instant, it’s nice to read a love story that took time, effort and years to grow and nurture. Like Elle and Oliver, they knew each other since they were kids, growing up and experiencing life together. It was when they were a bit older that the friendship grew into attraction and the attraction blossomed into love.

Jensen had a rough childhood. He was the smart kid who was just getting by, making the most of what he has, and in his case was not a lot. Through it all, Mia became his rock and support. He formulated dreams, believed in himself and saw that he can be more because Mia had such faith in him. When he went to college, something happened making Jensen decide on something that will change every single thing about his life. Said decision really affected and hurt Mia starting a domino effect of hurt, sadness and pain in the years to come.

“Maybe our souls really are scattered in the things we love, and we are all completely lost, but from the moment she looked at me, I felt like I’d been found.”

Fast forward to five years and a lot of “trying to move on steps” later, Mia found herself in the same city that Jensen was in, and eventually working alongside him, taking photos of people whom Jensen also interviews. As the story unfolds, we were able to see that even after their relationship crashed, Jensen never stopped pursuing in trying to win Mia back. It was an agony; watching Mia from afar, seeing her live her life and knowing that things cannot really go back to how they used to be.

On the other hand, as much as Mia liked to believe that she moved on, she never really did because a part of her was still broken and hanging; bitter and unforgiving. Seeing the chance, Jensen did everything to try and win Mia back. Mia’s struggle was palpable. We can feel her hesitation and distrust the same way we can feel her adoration and love. It was an emotional battle for Mia and we came to see how she struggled with every decision, every move and how hard she fought and weighed what her heart was saying versus what her mind was dictating.

“Some say I loved her to the point of madness, bordering on obsession. She said I put her on a pedestal that her real self couldn’t attain. Perhaps they’re all right. Perhaps I am mad. And if that’s the case, to be frank, I don’t give a damn. What I know is that she sets me on fire, and if you were to perform an intradermal test on me, you’d know when she was in it because you’d see the trails of blaze she left behind. Because that’s what I feel at the mere thought of her, and I’d rather live my life in flames than be numb without her.”

One light aspect of the novel was Mia’s family and the rest of the KH gang, providing a much needed breather when the intensity gets too much. Though the novel was mainly from Mia’s POV, I found myself looking forward to Jensen’s weekly columns where he shed light on what he was feeling, laying everything out and exposing himself for everyone to see. And of course there’s Olivia, who is truly a ray of sunshine once the tears start flowing.

They say it takes twenty-one days to break a habit. It’s been approximately one thousand eight hundred and twenty six since I last held her hand in mine and I’m still waiting for the remains of her to break off of me.

As I made my way page after page, I realized that the reason I love this book is because the characters are relatable and real. Jensen and Mia showed that unconditional love is equal parts beautiful and painful. It is beautiful because it is something that’s rare and not everyone experiences it in this lifetime. And it can be painful too because unconditional love means sacrifices and putting someone’s happiness ahead of yours. It means handing your heart over to someone, with full trust that it will not be burned and broken.

Mia and Jensen explored love at a young age and though it was cut short, they had to go on through life and grow up. Eventually, when time came, they still found each other and I guess it’s a lesson for everyone that sometimes even the unimaginable can still happen once we put our hearts on it.

Paper Hearts quote

Paper Hearts: Patricia Approved

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