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Sally Hanan’s debut novel “My Heart Went Walking” is set in the 1980s in Ireland, taking us back to a rural life where things were different for unwed pregnant girls.

So when Uma, at the age of sixteen, is pregnant with Callum’s baby and tells her mother, she is told to give up her child. But Una can’t, and she takes the difficult decision to leave her family and home behind and make her way to Dublin, where no one knows her and she can build a life for her and her child.

Her sister Ellie knows nothing about what is going on and Callum doesn’t know he is the father, and Una leaves for the big city, ending up sleeping outside until a family takes her in.

The relationship between her host parents and Una was – to me – the most beautiful part of the story: a couple who never had children decides to take her in and gain a daughter and grandchild and help her work and learn a trade.

There are, however, complications: when Una finally decides to go back to Donegal and tell her family the truth, she sees Ellie with Callum. Her sister is now seeing the only boy she ever loved. She gets back on the bus and gives up on a reconciliation with her family.

That is, until Ellie gets sick and really needs her help.

At the end, it is a beautiful story with a happy ending, but just like life, there is a lot to go through to get there and we hear it unfold from Una’s point of view, as well as Callum’s and Ellie’s. While the triangle between Una, Callum and Ellie is at the forefront of the story, the supporting characters won me over with the love and care and moved me to tears. They are who made this story really worth reading for me.

My Heart Went Walking by Sally Hanan was published by Fire Drinkers Publishing on the 5th of February 2022. ISBN: 1733333045

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