Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Indelible Heart by Marianne K. Martin

Book:  The Indelible Heart
Author:  Marianne K. Martin
Publisher:  Bywater Books

This chicken crossed the road
because Bojangles biscuits
are totally worth it.
Why did the chicken cross the road?

This iconic riddle first appeared in The Knickerbocker back in 1847, and has virtually endless variations, including ducks, dildos, divas, dinosaurs, and Brett Somers.  Be that as it may, the answer always comes down to cause and effect.

A cause is an action or event that makes something else happen.   

An effect is what happens as a result of the cause. 

Causality is the relationship between one event (the cause) and a second event (the effect), where the second event is understood as a consequence of the first.

For centuries, philosophers and authors have worked to explain and define the occurrences of each concept.  Aristotle had his concept of telos, Machiavelli developed an early application to politics, and Hume argued its merits related to economics.

Heck, even Boy George got into the mix with Karma Chameleon…

For the record:
  • Aristotle would stress that the chicken crossed the road to actualize its potential.
  • Machiavelli would deem the chicken crossed the road so that its subjects will view it with admiration as a chicken, which has the daring and courage to boldly cross the road, but also with fear: for who among them has the strength to contend with such a paragon of avian virtue? 
  • Hume would pronounce the chicken crossed the road out of custom and habit.
  • Of course, Boy George would prattle on that the chicken crossed the road because she's in denial that she's a hen and not a rooster.

And it's Rainforest
Alliance Certified
Marianne K. Martin explored the concepts of cause and effect in her 1999 classic Love in the Balance.  While that story primarily focused on the burgeoning love affair of Kasey and Connie, it touched on a tragedy that forever changed their world, and that of the mostly-closeted gay community around them.  In this long-awaited sequel, The Indelible Heart, we reconnect with not only Kasey and Connie, but also with Sage and Deanne and Sharon and Laura. 

A lot of things have changed in the decade since Charlie Crawford shot and killed Donna and Evonne.  Kasey and Connie are secure in their relationship, Sage and Deanne have a beautiful daughter named Cayley, but Laura left Sharon when her partner’s obsessive activism and drinking became too much to handle.  The breakup triggered Sharon’s spiral into a depression, which remains fueled by the stuttering pace of justice against hate crimes.

At her lowest level, Sharon finally sought help for her depression and recovered enough to maintain her business with Kasey and find a new girlfriend.  However, news that Charlie Crawford is terminally ill and seeking an early release to die at home surrounded by his family, triggers another spiral that threatens her sobriety, her job, and her remaining relationships.  Learning that Laura is back in town and not interested in seeing her, compounds the descent.  Sage remains the only one who will listen and hear her, while Kasey uses tough love to help Sharon regain control of her life.

Enter a tiny, helpless puppy, a speeding truck, a kind neighbor, a few blind leaps into self-awareness, solid boundaries, and trust. Sharon and Laura find themselves with a second chance, but love isn’t always easy and forgiveness isn’t always automatic.  It doesn’t matter if you’re friends or lovers, or both: you can’t change the past, you can only alter the future.  

If you really want to, that is.

Marianne K. Martin is not simply an author, but a storyteller.  The Indelible Heart doesn’t merely continue the narrative started in Love in the Balance, but explores the causes of actions and events, and then tells the tale of the effects of both love and hate on the characters.   She uses a deft touch in creating complex relationships that seem familiar and true to life—friends who have your back, yet aren’t afraid to slap your face when you need it most; lovers who are willing to walk away because they love you that much. 

Her characters are flesh and blood women who have bad backs and creaky knees.  They roll their eyes when they know their partner’s drunken friend is calling to rant about some injustice, and they want to solve a daughter’s problems even if she’s doing a fine job on her own.  Her characters tell bad jokes.  Get their hackles up when they see their best friend’s ex in the pharmacy, and then find a way to be happy when they get back together.  Sometimes her characters find a way to forgive amazing and painful wrongs, and sometimes they don’t.  Occasionally, her characters look inside themselves, and find a better person lurking deep within.

The Indelible Heart is built on a foundation of love and hate.  It is the story of cause and effect, and strength and honor. I read this book twice - the first time through, I had not read Love in the Balance, and that made it a much different book.  Still powerful, but it made me question why I cared about Sage and Deanne, and why Kasey was such a powerful influence on Sharon.  After I went back and read Love in the Balance, I suddenly understood everything.

The Indelible Heart is a rich and tender book that has surprisingly sharp edges and more than a few splinters.  However, by the end, the masterful Marianne K. Martin manages to smooth out the edges and sand the splinters away until we’re left with a well-fought and triumphant story of love and justice and hope for the future. 

I’m giving this worthy sequel a strong 5.0 out of 6 on the Rainbow Scale, but strongly recommend that you pick up Love in the Balance first, if you haven't already read it.


  1. Again. Clever, concise, cogent, and creative. I know it's broken record by now, but these reviews should count for continuing education. Marianne's work is like slipping on a favorite pair of kid gloves. Thanks for your delicate dissection.


  2. Hiya, Barrett! Marianne's writing is indeed sublime, thanks for stopping by. If you take your forms to the TRR Admissions Office, Mrs. Wakanda will make sure your transcript shows the proper credit for the course.

  3. I enjoyed your review so much that I'm going to post it on my Facebook page. Thanks for writing about this important author who also helps to keep the memory of my mother alive.

  4. Cynthia, thank you so much for stopping by TRR. It was an honor to review such a fine book by one of our most talented authors, and even more humbling to read your powerful Foreward.