It is the mid-1950s. Sixteen-year-old piano prodigy Eli Levin meets the love of his life, fifteen-year-old Krissy Porter. They begin writing to each other, but mail is spotty since their letters seem to be mysteriously intercepted. After Krissy attends one of Eli’s performances, their relationship takes a turn for the worse when her letters to Eli are returned to her. With communications cut, Eli and Krissy assume their relationship is over and the two go there separate ways.
Three years later and both attending different colleges, Eli learns that his manipulative mother is the one responsible for their break up. Eli reconnects with Krissy. After several discussions the two lovebirds plan to get married, much to the dismay of Eli’s mother. As deep as their love and commitment is for one another, a major concern is Eli’s health. Diagnosed with TOF (Tetralogy of Fallot)— a type of congenital heart defect, Eli has been told that he may not live pass the age of 30. Taking their chances and hoping to cheat premature death, Eli and Krissy decide to make the most of their time together “until death do us part.”
Jordan creates an endearing story of romance and family dynamics in her second novel. The inspiration for her imaginative character, Eli Levin, is based on “the good memories” of her teenage friendship with Samuel Sanders, a “brilliant teenage pianist born with a congenital heart defect.” Jordan captures Eli’s musical genius while taking readers behind the scenes of a man who not only struggles for autonomy from his overbearing mother, but also with the fact that his life could be cut short at any moment. To further complicate matters, Eli can’t bear being apart from Krissy.
Unique to Jordan’s novels is how she tightly interweaves music into her character development. A long-time vocalist, Jordan dedicates her writing on “the power of music in the lives of the characters” in her books. In the case of Eli’s Heart, Jordan infiltrates her third person narrative with an array of classical music. Indeed, the lovers get caught up in the nuances of each masterful work, and that only deepens as their relationship continues. Combining the above elements, Jordan keeps her plot flowing by constantly alternating character scenes. Although there is a bit of predictability in the plot, readers will be surprised by Eli’s Heart closing, which ends on a spiritually stirring note.
Fans of Nicholas Spark novels looking for similar romance themes will be pleasantly surprised with Jordan’s latest novel. One does not need to be a connoisseur or aficionado of classical music to appreciate the depth of relationship between Eli and Krissy. On the plus side, for those who are way into this musical genre, Jordan includes and rich list of suggested recording discussed in Eli’s Heart, as well as specific recordings by Samuel Sanders. Undoubtedly, a great read that comes highly recommended.