What is apparent from the start of the well-written Space in the Heart are the wounds of the three vibrant main characters. Author Rodney Walther told me, “I like to write characters who are complex, who have some wound or flaw that shapes who they are and how they see the world. Although the main characters Garrison and Danica take tentative steps toward love, they are each pursuing an individual journey of growth, which is as important as their romantic relationship.”
Throw in Zoey, a moody adolescent. In many ways emotionally, she is completely normal with the roller-coaster feelings of a teenager. Being in a wheel chair sets her apart, yet Rodney’s strong and apt development allows us to sit in her chair as we read. The authors is successful in his goal of writing “Zoey as a teenage girl who happened to have a disability, not as a disabled girl first and foremost.”
The plot reveals the nasty side of adolescents who both mock and ignore Zoey. Having been an educator for many years, I have seen these types of encounters. While all bullying is wrong, this type is extremely infuriating for me. Like many teenagers, Zoey wants to handle this “normal part of school life” and not discuss the situation with teachers or administrators.
Zoey’s dad, Garrison Sterling is a former astronaut who still works at NASA, and allows the author to bring in his own love of the night sky. Danica Cortez, a successful tv reporter and anchor, has her own emotional baggage, as well as dealing with the cut-throat nature of her profession and the corruption in politics.
This is a novel whose characters and plot are driven by “themes of grief, regret, and second chances,” Rodney writes. Each main character is memorably drawn, although I have to say I loved Zoey! Such a unique character so filled with personality, teenage moodiness and her striving to be an independent person.
The three wounded characters have deep conflicts and all are on a journey of growth. The relationships feel real and the conflicts hard to solve—which make Space in the Heart an excellent read.
Chicken Pesto is one of Zoey’s favorite dishes. Her father usually prepares it for her birthday. He thinks as he fixes the dish, “All he’d need to do was toss them [the chicken pieces] into the cooked pasta along with his pesto sauce and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and all her problems would disappear.
Here’s my version of the recipe. Hope is solves all your problems!
2 chicken breasts, boneless
1 cup farfalle
1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/4 up EVOO
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
- Grill chicken breasts until golden on both sides and white throughout. Remove chicken from grill. If you are grilling vegetables, you may add to the grill now. Cool chicken slightly and slice into thin strips.
- Boil farfalle according to package instructions. Drain.
- Toss pasta with basil, garlic, EVOO. Squeeze lemon juice on top. Mix. Add chicken and toss gently. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Cheesy if you want: Add 1-2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- Add some herbs: Toss with 1-2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
- Add something easy! Add marinated artichoke hearts with chicken when tossing.
- Leftover suggestion: Use cooked leftover vegetables, sliced or chopped. Toss with pasta and chicken. Some good veggies would be zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, fennel, cherry tomatoes and onions. If not cooked, you can steam, sauté or grill them. Toss with chicken and pasta.
- Vegan: Omit the chicken. Add vegetables as suggested above.
Learn more about author Rodney Walther