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The Complicated Heart: Loving Even When It Hurts

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People always ask Sarah how she forgave her alcoholic mother. How do you forgive someone who wounded you so deeply, who carelessly brushed aside your pain, who caused such destruction? How do you forgive them when your wounds are still open, they show no remorse, and you're so tangled up with them you're not sure how to get untangled? These are the People always ask Sarah how she forgave her alcoholic mother. How do you forgive someone who wounded you so deeply, who carelessly brushed aside your pain, who caused such destruction? How do you forgive them when your wounds are still open, they show no remorse, and you're so tangled up with them you're not sure how to get untangled? These are the questions Sarah Mae has wrestled with since she was fourteen years old--the year she moved in with her mother. The Complicated Heart takes readers on a journey where they will experience Sarah's story with her. Readers will be able to peek behind the curtain into the heart of her mom as well, through journal entries and letters. The story of Sarah and her mom is the story of how light finds a way in, even in the deepest darkness. It is a story that shows victory, hope, and redemption in the midst of trauma and pain. Specifically, The Complicated Heart will help you: Learn how to forgive when your wound is still open Heal even when circumstances don't change Get out of the cycle of dysfunction that you seem trapped in Love when it feels impossible Persevere in hope even when you think it's a waste of time Support a friend who is dealing with a broken or painful relationship


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People always ask Sarah how she forgave her alcoholic mother. How do you forgive someone who wounded you so deeply, who carelessly brushed aside your pain, who caused such destruction? How do you forgive them when your wounds are still open, they show no remorse, and you're so tangled up with them you're not sure how to get untangled? These are the People always ask Sarah how she forgave her alcoholic mother. How do you forgive someone who wounded you so deeply, who carelessly brushed aside your pain, who caused such destruction? How do you forgive them when your wounds are still open, they show no remorse, and you're so tangled up with them you're not sure how to get untangled? These are the questions Sarah Mae has wrestled with since she was fourteen years old--the year she moved in with her mother. The Complicated Heart takes readers on a journey where they will experience Sarah's story with her. Readers will be able to peek behind the curtain into the heart of her mom as well, through journal entries and letters. The story of Sarah and her mom is the story of how light finds a way in, even in the deepest darkness. It is a story that shows victory, hope, and redemption in the midst of trauma and pain. Specifically, The Complicated Heart will help you: Learn how to forgive when your wound is still open Heal even when circumstances don't change Get out of the cycle of dysfunction that you seem trapped in Love when it feels impossible Persevere in hope even when you think it's a waste of time Support a friend who is dealing with a broken or painful relationship

30 review for The Complicated Heart: Loving Even When It Hurts

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kendra Roehl

    The Complicated Heart is a very raw and honest account of the relationship between a mother and daughter. Sarah doesn't sugarcoat her or her mother's words or actions, but she doesn't leave you in a place of hurt and pain. Through her story, she offers real hope from her own life on practical ways to handle challenging relationships that you are facing as well. Personally, I found her story deeply moving. Growing up in the church where a lot of difficult family or relationship issues weren't tal The Complicated Heart is a very raw and honest account of the relationship between a mother and daughter. Sarah doesn't sugarcoat her or her mother's words or actions, but she doesn't leave you in a place of hurt and pain. Through her story, she offers real hope from her own life on practical ways to handle challenging relationships that you are facing as well. Personally, I found her story deeply moving. Growing up in the church where a lot of difficult family or relationship issues weren't talked about publicly, I am encouraged by people like Sarah who are willing to not just show their shiny parts, but will talk about the harder side of life too. It reminds me that we aren't alone in our struggles, whatever they may be. I received an ARC of the book from the publisher and here is my honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I received an advanced review copy from the publisher of this title. The Complicated Heart is a powerful look at the author's complicated and ultimately redemptive relationship with her mother. What I loved about this book was Sarah Mae's honesty about wanting more from her relationship than her mother could offer, and how she was able to continue to love her while also building boundaries. This is not a how to book for fixing a few flaws in a mother daughter relationship. It is instead a testim I received an advanced review copy from the publisher of this title. The Complicated Heart is a powerful look at the author's complicated and ultimately redemptive relationship with her mother. What I loved about this book was Sarah Mae's honesty about wanting more from her relationship than her mother could offer, and how she was able to continue to love her while also building boundaries. This is not a how to book for fixing a few flaws in a mother daughter relationship. It is instead a testimony to the power of trusting that Jesus can heal even the greatest rifts and heartbreak that life is guaranteed to provide. Despite the heavy content, this book was readable and compelling. Excerpts of journal entries and letters written by both the author and her mother were powerful additions to the narrative. Even if you don't have a troubled relationship with a parent, or a history marked by trauma, there is plenty to gain from this story about the ways that loss and sadness can affect our ability to function. Moving on from loss, whatever its source, is a process described here with grace and eloquence. At one point or another, each of us will have to confront the kind of hurt that Sarah Mae describes, and hers is a story that can teach us how to lean on God when it does. "It's okay that we will always have a little bit of sadness in our life regarding loss. The goal isn't to never be sad, it's about getting to the point where the pain no longer consumes us or controls us, our perceptions of ourselves, others, God and the world."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Misty Keith

    The Complicated Heart: Loving When It Hurts is a wonderfully written book. I was immediately attracted to reading this story from the author's childhood because I could relate to her story in so many ways on my own. The story-line is intense but heartfelt. There’s a raw but loving compassion for those in her story who hurt her so much. This book is a great read for anyone trying to learn how to forgive while going through the grieving process as well as heal from painful circumstances, especiall The Complicated Heart: Loving When It Hurts is a wonderfully written book. I was immediately attracted to reading this story from the author's childhood because I could relate to her story in so many ways on my own. The story-line is intense but heartfelt. There’s a raw but loving compassion for those in her story who hurt her so much. This book is a great read for anyone trying to learn how to forgive while going through the grieving process as well as heal from painful circumstances, especially those within childhood trauma.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    "Hope. Healing. Grace. Forgiveness. Repeat. You will find this and much more in Sarah Mae's new book, The Complicated Heart. Sarah wrote this story starting in the voice of her teenage self, so the reader feels as if they are right there with her in those teenage years. She tells the story of the abuse and trauma she endured from many different people - some physical, some sexual, some emotional, some mental - and how she overcame it by allowing God to show her how to heal and putting the right "Hope. Healing. Grace. Forgiveness. Repeat. You will find this and much more in Sarah Mae's new book, The Complicated Heart. Sarah wrote this story starting in the voice of her teenage self, so the reader feels as if they are right there with her in those teenage years. She tells the story of the abuse and trauma she endured from many different people - some physical, some sexual, some emotional, some mental - and how she overcame it by allowing God to show her how to heal and putting the right people in her path to help her. As an avid reader, I enjoy reading a variety of genres. Sarah Mae’s books have always hit home for me and I’ve always found a piece of myself through her books. She writes like you are sitting in her living room just having some girl time; like she’s the best friend you’ve known your whole life. She writes of true struggles but also of true grace, healing, forgiveness, and truth. In The Complicated Heart, I love how Sarah is open & honest about her struggles and how she overcame through Christ. She allowed herself to be vulnerable while writing her story but she also kept it respectful to those in her life that are mentioned in her book. I love the hope and grace that is shared and the joy that she finds now because she was obedient to God and followed His will in sharing her story. Read The Complicated Heart. Learn her story of abuse & trauma and how she let God heal her from it and draw her closer to Him. Find a piece of yourself as you discover what God can do in your life through any circumstances you have faced in your past or even in the present. What a touching true story of heartbreak and healing through the grace and forgiveness only Christ can give. "

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joanna Potter

    If you've ever felt your past is too dark or broken to be redeemed, if you've ever felt so much pain you've wondered how you can ever forgive, The Complicated Heart is for you. Sarah Mae allows her readers to follow her in her painful journey growing up with an alcohol mom, divorced parents, a teenage abortion, and finally meeting Jesus. But the story doesn't stop there. Sarah Mae shares her struggles to change her thought-patterns, her actions, and to forgive her mom through journal entries, co If you've ever felt your past is too dark or broken to be redeemed, if you've ever felt so much pain you've wondered how you can ever forgive, The Complicated Heart is for you. Sarah Mae allows her readers to follow her in her painful journey growing up with an alcohol mom, divorced parents, a teenage abortion, and finally meeting Jesus. But the story doesn't stop there. Sarah Mae shares her struggles to change her thought-patterns, her actions, and to forgive her mom through journal entries, conversations with counselors, and her own mistakes and triumphs. There is so much truth tucked into each chapter--truth intended to set the reader free.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kendra

    I was invested in the concept of this book before it was even available as a book. I’ve been listening to author Sarah Mae’s podcast, The Complicated Heart, for the last year. She does such an excellent job of meeting professionals and subject matter experts who live and work at the intersection of mental health and faith. When Sarah Mae mentioned that she was writing a book on the theme that inspired the podcast, I knew I had to read it. In the introduction to her book, Sarah Mae writes: This i I was invested in the concept of this book before it was even available as a book. I’ve been listening to author Sarah Mae’s podcast, The Complicated Heart, for the last year. She does such an excellent job of meeting professionals and subject matter experts who live and work at the intersection of mental health and faith. When Sarah Mae mentioned that she was writing a book on the theme that inspired the podcast, I knew I had to read it. In the introduction to her book, Sarah Mae writes: This is our story, the story of Mom and me, but it’s also your story, and how even in great darkness light finds a way in, comforts us when we can’t see, and leads us out into the fullness of day where redemption and freedom and healing are waiting for us. I think this is an accurate and beautiful lead thought to share her aim and what she delivers on in the spiritual memoir. She explores, through her own memories and letters and diaries written by her mom, a difficult relationship, compounded by her mother’s own brokenness and alcoholism that manifests in abuse and neglect of Sarah Mae. The glory story in all of this is a true reconciliation of hearts. Not a perfect redemption of them as we know we will not experience perfect wholeness this side of Heaven. Sarah Mae is an excellent writer, that should be of great importance to anyone buying a book. This one was written and organized with care. Some of the stories throughout could have been given a little more texture (more on this later) but on the whole, I think the book is very complete. The stories in the book are certainly difficult to read in terms of what this young woman experienced with very little support at the time she was going through it all, e.g. an abortion, molestation, etc. But they are not written gratuitously, and all are part of the ultimate story of redemption. The recollections Sarah Mae shares are written often from her point of view at that particular time in her life. So when she recalls being molested by an ex-stepbrother, it’s from her POV as a young teen. This aspect of the book did not work for me. I think there was too much to unpack; it felt like a missed opportunity to delve deeply into how these events shaped the author, rather than glossing over difficult episodes and treating them only as if the wisdom of time had not been granted. Others may find it’s actually a virtue of the book because the author is faithful in all the ways to being a reliable narrator. She didn’t know then what she knows now. The biblical wisdom in the book is not heavy-handed but helpful, I think, in offering context for how the author wants to frame her own healing and what she believes is possible for others. The most compelling part of the book for me was at the very end. The author includes an entire chapter on tactical approaches to identifying and rooting out the core lies and core fears that plague our own complicated hearts. She offers spiritual insight on the symptoms and hazards of clinging to these core lies. Many of her podcast episodes have addressed these in different forms but I was very grateful to see the full material in written form, almost like a psycho-spiritual instruction manual. I would especially recommend this book to anyone who has fought to have a healthy relationship with a parent or felt enmeshed and unable to establish firm boundaries with a family member. Sarah Mae’s willingness to share her story in a vulnerable, accountable way is as inspiring as it is instructive to all who want to explore the complexity of our hearts. I received this book as a digital edition courtesy B&H Publishing in exchange for my honest review of the book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Angie Welch

    This book is amazing!!! For anyone that has trouble with forgiveness, this will point you in the right direction.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This is a very raw and real look at Sarah Mae's life with her alcoholic mother and how their relationship shaped and molded the path of Sarah's life. I cannot really relate to her story as I didn't have these issues at all in my childhood or adulthood, but many of the overarching concepts are relevant to me and will be relevant to all readers. Anyone who has a toxic relationship, especially with a parent or other relative will find much food for thought and prayer in this book, as it clearly sho This is a very raw and real look at Sarah Mae's life with her alcoholic mother and how their relationship shaped and molded the path of Sarah's life. I cannot really relate to her story as I didn't have these issues at all in my childhood or adulthood, but many of the overarching concepts are relevant to me and will be relevant to all readers. Anyone who has a toxic relationship, especially with a parent or other relative will find much food for thought and prayer in this book, as it clearly shows how generational behaviors manifest themselves deeply. Yet the book also shows how a relationship with God and truly embracing God's forgiveness can help one to stop these behaviors from continuing. Sarah intertwines journal entries of both herself and her mother over the years she was growing up and into the present. She documents the pushes and pulls of their relationship, and lays everything on the table. Sarah doesn't sugar coat her own failings, yet she also brings light and redemption into every dark corner. I especially appreciated that she did not portray herself as perfect and blame everything on her mother--she fully owns up to her own poor choices and shows how she overcame even the worst things with God's help. The topics of overcoming the core lies that you tell yourself and the results of those lies really resonated with me. We all have issues that we need to explore and give up, and there are many applications to Sarah's transparency. This book is a difficult read. If you are easily triggered by things, this book might not be for you, because like I said, she paints a full, real, raw picture and at times it hit me very hard. If you can muster the courage to confront those trigger issues, The Complicated Heart can help you to move toward healing and wholeness. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, all opinions are my own.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jayna

    Whether you’re struggling to move forward because of a difficult relationship from your past, or you’re a compassionate friend or professional, encouraging someone toward healing, this book is an excellent read. Sarah Mae speaks with complete transparency and brutal honesty, walking the reader through her story of brokenness and healing. Her mother’s heart was indeed complicated, but Sarah Mae’s authenticity and openness are refreshing. There is hope and Truth in these pages. I believe this is a Whether you’re struggling to move forward because of a difficult relationship from your past, or you’re a compassionate friend or professional, encouraging someone toward healing, this book is an excellent read. Sarah Mae speaks with complete transparency and brutal honesty, walking the reader through her story of brokenness and healing. Her mother’s heart was indeed complicated, but Sarah Mae’s authenticity and openness are refreshing. There is hope and Truth in these pages. I believe this is a book that can open the door to healing and wholeness. Read it. Share it with gentleness and grace. We can never know the path someone may have traveled, but there really is hope for all who are willing to do the hard work.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mary McGrath

    The Complicate Heart undid me! I too have/had a complicated relationship with my mother. My mother passed away when I was eighteen. I didn't fully realize that healing still needed to take place until I became a mother. I share that personal information to now explain how impactful this book has been. While reading this book I felt like the author Sarah Mae had a scanner and could just read me, read me better than I can read me! The way she shared her and her mom's story was captivating. I could The Complicate Heart undid me! I too have/had a complicated relationship with my mother. My mother passed away when I was eighteen. I didn't fully realize that healing still needed to take place until I became a mother. I share that personal information to now explain how impactful this book has been. While reading this book I felt like the author Sarah Mae had a scanner and could just read me, read me better than I can read me! The way she shared her and her mom's story was captivating. I could not put the book down, I read it in a day. Then she shares what to do with your pain and your grief and dysfunction. I so appreciate that she doesn't leave us hanging. She shares what worked for her and others. I finished the book feeling encouraged in the work and progress I have made so far, and I feel equipped to know what to do to continue the work. Sarah Mae shares about her relationship with her mother, but this book isn't a tool/resource for mother daughter relationships, this book is a tool & resource for any relationship. Sarah Mae's The Complicated Heart has marked my life for the better.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Loved this book! Sarah truly opened up her heart and let you into how she grew to forgiveness with her mom. She was open and honest in her life and feelings. I have similarities in relationships and it helps me see what I am doing right. The first half of the book is really hard. It was hard to put down. I read it in 3 hours. God loves us even when we are a hot mess.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Maureen Angelino

    I love a good memoir, raw and real. To walk in the shoes of another in such a personal way is an amazing gift, and The Complicated Heart: Loving Even When it Hurts has been that for me. Starting at the age of fourteen, Sarah Mae takes us through the journey of her rocky and dysfunctional relationship with her alcoholic mother, her early experiences with "love" as a young woman, and the resulting consequences of the lack of a mother's care. We're right there with her to experience the seething hu I love a good memoir, raw and real. To walk in the shoes of another in such a personal way is an amazing gift, and The Complicated Heart: Loving Even When it Hurts has been that for me. Starting at the age of fourteen, Sarah Mae takes us through the journey of her rocky and dysfunctional relationship with her alcoholic mother, her early experiences with "love" as a young woman, and the resulting consequences of the lack of a mother's care. We're right there with her to experience the seething hurt she felt and the ways she sought to fill the longing in her heart while fumbling around through early adolescence and into adulthood, seemingly alone. Reading her story, in all of its vulnerability, made me ache for her. I went back and forth between understanding her behaviors and feelings from how fourteen-year-old me would have felt and then from my perspective as a mother now, who just wanted to hug and comfort that girl and tell her she was loved. Along the way, she learned some things about her mom that helped her to understand what caused such deep pain. Her pain was not wasted, and she shares about the hope and healing she continues to experience. This quote touches on what she realized of her mom and herself: "Two broken girls, tangled up with each other, find their only hope not in the love of a mother or a father but in Jesus, who never left either of us." What a gift to experience that realization! But she doesn't stop with telling her own story. She shares with us, the hurting and complicated, what she has gleaned along the way. If you have experienced rejection or betrayal from friends or family, or abusive, toxic relationships that seem impossible, she doesn't shy away from encouraging the hard steps that can ultimately lead to a huge release from the bondage of pain and deep disappointment, past or present. "If we're alive on this earth, it's not too late to bend a knee to the only One who can save us and love us completely and profoundly." Such love! Love through the hurt. I was given an Advanced Reader Copy of this book, and it has been my privilege to read and review it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brittany Walker

    I am so grateful I was able to get an advanced readers copy of the Complicated Heart. I love how Sarah wove her and her mom’s story throughout the pages and beautiful told her story of forgiveness and redemption through healing. The truths that were written about Jesus and how He heals in our own life and how God worked through Sarah in a raw and real way will keep you going till the last page. Some times we just get to read one persons story and sometimes we only get to hear what God did after I am so grateful I was able to get an advanced readers copy of the Complicated Heart. I love how Sarah wove her and her mom’s story throughout the pages and beautiful told her story of forgiveness and redemption through healing. The truths that were written about Jesus and how He heals in our own life and how God worked through Sarah in a raw and real way will keep you going till the last page. Some times we just get to read one persons story and sometimes we only get to hear what God did after but in the Complicated Heart we got to hear start to still going. Beautifully written!

  14. 5 out of 5

    H Spraut

    I received an ARC from the publisher and couldn’t put this book down. The very first time I read something Sarah Mae wrote I thought, “She knows Jesus the way I do; in the messy, hard stuff.” The Complicated Heart is no different. Grab a BIG box of tissues because the hard stuff she shares hurts and she invites you right into the middle of it with beautiful honesty. I found myself continually nodding in agreement to the truths she shares and eager to get to the places of healing she’s found that I received an ARC from the publisher and couldn’t put this book down. The very first time I read something Sarah Mae wrote I thought, “She knows Jesus the way I do; in the messy, hard stuff.” The Complicated Heart is no different. Grab a BIG box of tissues because the hard stuff she shares hurts and she invites you right into the middle of it with beautiful honesty. I found myself continually nodding in agreement to the truths she shares and eager to get to the places of healing she’s found that I’m still searching for. Sarah tells the story of how she learned to love well and forgive her mother for not being the mother she needed. I read this book in one day. I wanted to know HOW? What did it look like to sort thru all this tangled up love and pain and come out the other side whole??! She talks about grieving and expectations and then she says, “...learn contentment with not having a need met... No person on earth has all needs met at all times.” WOAH. It isn’t as if I didn’t already know that, I just hadn’t taken apart my own hurt so thoroughly yet, even though I’d tried. This book is genuine and beautiful and full of hope.

  15. 4 out of 5

    April Pettefer

    The Complicated Heart is a much-needed book! Sarah Mae recounts her difficult and often dysfunctional relationship with her mom with insight and compassion. She is able to recount some raw and difficult circumstances with hope and faith in God. Sarah intersperses her story with excerpts from her mother's journals, which helped me to understand her mother. It's safe to say that all of us have had a complicated relationship, even if it was not as complicated as Sarah Mae's relationship The Complicated Heart is a much-needed book! Sarah Mae recounts her difficult and often dysfunctional relationship with her mom with insight and compassion. She is able to recount some raw and difficult circumstances with hope and faith in God. Sarah intersperses her story with excerpts from her mother's journals, which helped me to understand her mother. It's safe to say that all of us have had a complicated relationship, even if it was not as complicated as Sarah Mae's relationship with her mom. This book left me with renewed desire to really see and understand the other person in my own complicated relationships. Sarah Mae's love for her mother, even when things were hard, inspires me to choose to love others even when it is not easy. This book is for those in complicated relationships or those who know others in complicated relationships. (So anyone!) Sarah Mae's story is hard and challenging and full of the redemption and grace of Jesus! I highly recommend this book!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kristin Smith

    This book is a beautifully written, transparent look at the life of author Sarah Mae and her mother. Alcoholism caused a myriad of problems in their relationship through the years and Sarah shares how this complicated relationship caused much heartache, especially a difficulty to forgive. But woven throughout the pages are God's redemptive story of grace as well. How God was working in Sarah's life and her extended family to bring healing. If you have dealt with addiction in your family, or have This book is a beautifully written, transparent look at the life of author Sarah Mae and her mother. Alcoholism caused a myriad of problems in their relationship through the years and Sarah shares how this complicated relationship caused much heartache, especially a difficulty to forgive. But woven throughout the pages are God's redemptive story of grace as well. How God was working in Sarah's life and her extended family to bring healing. If you have dealt with addiction in your family, or have struggled to forgive someone that has hurt you - this book will be a soothing balm to your soul.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kristi

    I read The Complicated Heart in two days. But I thought about it for weeks afterwards. Much like the author, Sarah Mae, I grew up in a chaotic home with a sick Mother. She was mentally ill while Sarah’s mom suffered from alcoholism. It is a heart-breaking story told from adult Sarah, Sarah at younger ages as things happened to her, and from some of her Mother’s own journal writings. I loved the way these were all interwoven into this beautiful story of love, pain, and ultimately forgiveness. I f I read The Complicated Heart in two days. But I thought about it for weeks afterwards. Much like the author, Sarah Mae, I grew up in a chaotic home with a sick Mother. She was mentally ill while Sarah’s mom suffered from alcoholism. It is a heart-breaking story told from adult Sarah, Sarah at younger ages as things happened to her, and from some of her Mother’s own journal writings. I loved the way these were all interwoven into this beautiful story of love, pain, and ultimately forgiveness. I felt Sarah’s pain and I felt her Mom’s pain. I’m a mother now and my mom is deceased as well. I know I’ve forgiven her and I pray she has been able to forgive me from heaven above. The Complicated Heart helped me work through some things and it will help you too. Even if it is not your mother, it might be someone else in your life you need to forgive. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting, it’s just being able to move on in your own life.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Elise Klicko

    Heartfelt, deep, full of real lived out faith in action Encouraging. I love reading about others lives. Sarah really lays it all bare for us to get a good picture of her irl testimony.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lesa Brackbill

    The Complicated Heart: Loving Even When It Hurts The Complicated Heart: Loving When It Hurts by Sarah Mae is a powerful retelling of a complicated mother-daughter relationship and a story of unforeseen redemption that only God could accomplish. Sarah masterfully and vulnerably weaves together a picture of her childhood struggles with her alcoholic mother while also showing how God was working the entire time and how He healed her soul, and ultimately their relationship. The Complicated Heart: Loving Even When It Hurts The Complicated Heart: Loving When It Hurts by Sarah Mae is a powerful retelling of a complicated mother-daughter relationship and a story of unforeseen redemption that only God could accomplish. Sarah masterfully and vulnerably weaves together a picture of her childhood struggles with her alcoholic mother while also showing how God was working the entire time and how He healed her soul, and ultimately their relationship. More than that, she offers such wisdom about how to set yourself free from toxic relationships and how to love those who have hurt you.  Sarah gives a refreshing take on grief and how sometimes you have to grieve your unmet expectations of relationships with living people in order to heal. "Pain is not shameful, and neither is the vulnerability that comes with it." - Sarah Mae There are two sides to every story, and Sarah Mae does a beautiful job of incorporating the words of her mother, words she didn't discover until her mother had passed away. It was incredible to see her mother's thoughts and feelings about the same situations Sarah addressed. Though I do not have a complicated relationship with my own mother, I have had difficult relationship issues in my life (even recently with a friend), and this book spoke to me in many ways. I highlighted many quotes and will continue to ponder them. "It's okay that we will always have a little bit of sadness in our life regarding loss. The goal isn't to never be sad, it's about getting to the point where the pain no longer consumes us or controls our perceptions of ourselves, others, God, and the world." Check out The Complicated Heart - it just may be what your soul needs. I received an ARC from the publisher and this is my honest review. 

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mary Huff

    Life is complicated enough without trying to live a normal life as a child shuttled back and forth between a father who loves you, but doesn't always understand you, and a mother who drinks constantly and tries to be your friend. But just like a some of your "friends" she turns on you at any moment, when you least expect it, calling you names, teling you that you are stupid or ugly. Where do you go for the comfort you need? Fortunately, Sarah finds God and runs to Him, but with having the messed Life is complicated enough without trying to live a normal life as a child shuttled back and forth between a father who loves you, but doesn't always understand you, and a mother who drinks constantly and tries to be your friend. But just like a some of your "friends" she turns on you at any moment, when you least expect it, calling you names, teling you that you are stupid or ugly. Where do you go for the comfort you need? Fortunately, Sarah finds God and runs to Him, but with having the messed up family she has, of course she doesn't know how to even accept His love, she feels she has to change herself over and over and try harder, and of course keep on failing. Fortunately, God's love is so great that it will eventually show her how to love and forgive those who have hurt her in ways that cut deeply. Sarah Mae writes in a way that keeps you reading to find out how it is done, for all of us have been hurt by someone we considered a "friend".

  21. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Bradbury

    I received an advance reader coy of this book. I literally cried when I read this book! I read parts of it at the library; while my kids were using the computers, and it brought back some emotions with my relationship with my mom in the past. I recommend reading it in a place where you can process. The Complicated Heart is a must read for anyone who’s in a difficult relationship. However, I did not want to put the book down once I started!! I loved the format of the book too. Sarah Ma I received an advance reader coy of this book. I literally cried when I read this book! I read parts of it at the library; while my kids were using the computers, and it brought back some emotions with my relationship with my mom in the past. I recommend reading it in a place where you can process. The Complicated Heart is a must read for anyone who’s in a difficult relationship. However, I did not want to put the book down once I started!! I loved the format of the book too. Sarah Mae shares from her own story, but also includes her mom’s perspective from her journals. This makes the book very interesting. You get to see from both points of view. I also love that the author gives so many practical tips to guide you into healing. Although my relationship with my mom is the best it’s ever been. I really wish I would have had this in the early stages of our relationship. It would have helped both of us. I’m sharing this with several ladies. I know this book will bring healing to so many woman!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Saunders

    I have been looking forward to reading Sarah Mae's the "Complicated Heart" since I first heard about her writing it on her Instagram page. I have been anxiously waiting to read this book. I have now had a chance to read it and I have to say It was even better than I had hoped. Sarah is so real and open about her relationship with her mom at times good and at times heart breakingly bad. I truly felt her pain as she wrote about her own past and so appreciate her honestly and vulnerability. If you I have been looking forward to reading Sarah Mae's the "Complicated Heart" since I first heard about her writing it on her Instagram page. I have been anxiously waiting to read this book. I have now had a chance to read it and I have to say It was even better than I had hoped. Sarah is so real and open about her relationship with her mom at times good and at times heart breakingly bad. I truly felt her pain as she wrote about her own past and so appreciate her honestly and vulnerability. If you have a troubled relationship with someone, or a troubled past yourself, you can find peace in the midst of pain you can heal while the wound is still open. I highly recommend this truly inspiring book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    Many, if not most, of us have family or friends with whom we really want to love but just can't seem to break down those barriers. Maybe it's because we dont desire the relationship enough to put in the work. Maybe it's because we're afraid of the hurt that will likely come from getting too close (once bitten, twice shy). Sarah Mae had every reason to not pursue a relationship with her mom, yet she chose to put in the work to reach her and to show grace just as Jesus had shown her grace. This is Many, if not most, of us have family or friends with whom we really want to love but just can't seem to break down those barriers. Maybe it's because we dont desire the relationship enough to put in the work. Maybe it's because we're afraid of the hurt that will likely come from getting too close (once bitten, twice shy). Sarah Mae had every reason to not pursue a relationship with her mom, yet she chose to put in the work to reach her and to show grace just as Jesus had shown her grace. This is their story. But even more it is full of practical advice and wisdom from the counselors who helped Sarah deal with her past hurts and move forward to build a relationship with the one who hurt her. Written in classic Sarah Mae, full transparency style, this book is a must read for all who have been hurt yet want to learn how to forgive and thrive in that hard relationship.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kelli

    An absolutely stunning, beautiful, and heart- wrenching story about need and redemption. The Complicated Heart is a must read for anyone with any degree of pain and hurt. While I couldn’t fully relate to many of the experiences Sarah Mae survived through, I can empathize with her pain and desire for acceptance. I feel completely honored to have read her story, and am a lifetime fan and follower of Mae’s. Thank be the Lord for amazing Christian leaders, like Sarah Mae, that show us we are all imp An absolutely stunning, beautiful, and heart- wrenching story about need and redemption. The Complicated Heart is a must read for anyone with any degree of pain and hurt. While I couldn’t fully relate to many of the experiences Sarah Mae survived through, I can empathize with her pain and desire for acceptance. I feel completely honored to have read her story, and am a lifetime fan and follower of Mae’s. Thank be the Lord for amazing Christian leaders, like Sarah Mae, that show us we are all imperfect people, even leaders. We live in a broken world but through Jesus we receive grace and redemption. A must read!

  25. 4 out of 5

    The Book Distiller

    An excellent book. Whether you’ve had a difficult relationship with your mother or not (thankfully I’m in the latter field), you know someone in your life who has had a broken relationship with their mother/family member. This uniquely written/journal-type writing is full of truth and hope in the midst of a hard relationship. I adore this author and look forward to reading her future works.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Collins

    I wanted to read the The Complicated Heart because I had been listening to Sarah Mae’s podcast and I enjoyed the narratives she spoke about. I started reading thinking that it was a good story and it was amazing how God restored her relationship with her mom. What I didn’t expect was for God to use it to reveal to me past hurts in myself that I hadn’t forgiven. This book is for everyone. No matter if you feel like you have a squeaky clean past or don’t have any broken relationships. It provides I wanted to read the The Complicated Heart because I had been listening to Sarah Mae’s podcast and I enjoyed the narratives she spoke about. I started reading thinking that it was a good story and it was amazing how God restored her relationship with her mom. What I didn’t expect was for God to use it to reveal to me past hurts in myself that I hadn’t forgiven. This book is for everyone. No matter if you feel like you have a squeaky clean past or don’t have any broken relationships. It provides practical advice through Sarah Mae’s narrative of her story.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Lundy

    In this compelling memoir, Sarah Mae shares her story of growing up with an alcoholic mother. She shares her pain and struggles, as well as her path to healing. This is a the story of a mother and daughter that is filled with hurt, abuse, and difficulty. But it is a story that ends with redemption, love, and reconciliation. Before her mother passed away, Sarah promised her that she would tell their story. This book is the fulfillment of that promise. Sarah tells her side of the story, and throug In this compelling memoir, Sarah Mae shares her story of growing up with an alcoholic mother. She shares her pain and struggles, as well as her path to healing. This is a the story of a mother and daughter that is filled with hurt, abuse, and difficulty. But it is a story that ends with redemption, love, and reconciliation. Before her mother passed away, Sarah promised her that she would tell their story. This book is the fulfillment of that promise. Sarah tells her side of the story, and throughout the book she also weaves in selections from her mother's journals, giving us a peek into her mom's side of the story too. It is a hard book to read at times because of the pain, but at the same time it is easy to read. You feel like you are right there with Sarah, listening to her heart as she shares so honestly about her past. There was reconciliation found in the end, and that was a beautiful thing to see. This is a great book for anyone who is struggling to love and to forgive those who are close to them who have hurt them. And it is a great book for those who need help understanding the depth of pain and suffering that is present in some families. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Paige Clark

    This is the kind of book you want to read with a journal and a pen next to you. Not to annotate the complexity of the book, but to pour out the revelations and reflections that get stirred in your heart by Holy Spirit. The kind of book you read in the peak of the morning or in the restless hours of the night. In quiet and in stillness to drink up every last bit of wisdom found in between the binding. The Complicated Heart is a bold, honest, and beautiful memoir of the author Sarah Mae This is the kind of book you want to read with a journal and a pen next to you. Not to annotate the complexity of the book, but to pour out the revelations and reflections that get stirred in your heart by Holy Spirit. The kind of book you read in the peak of the morning or in the restless hours of the night. In quiet and in stillness to drink up every last bit of wisdom found in between the binding. The Complicated Heart is a bold, honest, and beautiful memoir of the author Sarah Mae and her late mother whose strained relationship could only be united and healed by the great Healer. The story walks through the pieces of brokenness that is incredibly relatable to the trauma and shattered relationships that plague our lives. The author was able to accurately articulate what these relationships can look like. Her words gave flesh to the wounds that plagued my soul for so many years. Revealing that trauma and manipulation, while unique in situation can present in the same way. The enemy lacks creativity in that regard. The Complicated Heart is not only a story but is a guide to what a journey of reconciliation can look like and has brilliant takeaways you’ll need that pen and paper for. This book is a holy space to examine a long asked question, what is God doing when life is messy. I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Susan Bricker

    Sarah Mae bares her soul and writes with guttural honesty throughout the pages of The Complicated Heart. She takes the reader alongside her journey of struggles to have a healthy relationship with her alcoholic mother and then finds forgiveness even while her heart was still broken. I love Sarah Mae’s unique style of writing in the viewpoint and voice of the various ages of specific memories as she walks the reader through the years of struggle, heartbreak, awareness, healing, hope, faith, and f Sarah Mae bares her soul and writes with guttural honesty throughout the pages of The Complicated Heart. She takes the reader alongside her journey of struggles to have a healthy relationship with her alcoholic mother and then finds forgiveness even while her heart was still broken. I love Sarah Mae’s unique style of writing in the viewpoint and voice of the various ages of specific memories as she walks the reader through the years of struggle, heartbreak, awareness, healing, hope, faith, and forgiveness. I feel it has the essence of a fiction overlay on a nonfiction book, which I really enjoyed. I loved the multi-layered, powerful messages of The Complicated Heart and how the relatable topics reach a broad range of people. It touches on struggles with addiction, rejection, abortion, trauma, forgiveness, self-awareness, healing, grief, faith, redemption, surrender, and obedience. I believe Sarah’s book will stir the soul of the reader and perhaps provide avenues to awaken dormant emotions to bring forth healing and forgiveness through faith. I appreciate Sarah Mae’s genuine approach and authentic voice by honoring and incorporating her mother’s letters into the book, which I feel added beautiful layers to The Complicated Heart. I found Sarah’s stories relatable to some of my own life struggles and feel my eyes were opened to the strained relationship I have with my own mother. Our relationship has also been one of wounds and the need for forgiveness. I loved this quote in The Complicated Heart by Sarah Mae, “The fire is long gone, and by God’s grace and kindness and unwavering pursuit of my heart, the ashes that were left, have turned to a garland of beauty and joy and hope and redemption. I am not the scared and helpless little girl I once was.” There were several parts of the book that tore at my heart strings and I definitely felt the impact of her passionate words. I’m grateful to Sarah Mae for baring her innermost self to share a wounded, yet beautiful story, to help lead others to Jesus, and the other side of their own struggles and unhealthy relationships. I loved The Complicated Heart and feel blessed by the powerful messages woven throughout the pages.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    I received an advanced reader copy from the publisher. I’ve personally loved Sarah Mae’s writings for years and was so excited to read this book. It did not disappoint. I enjoyed feeling like I was reading the personal thoughts and feelings of Sarah Mae. I loved watching her learn through sometimes painful experiences, that Jesus is the only one who can heal all. I do wish she would have gone into more detail on some of her experiences, or how she felt during some of the specific interactions wi I received an advanced reader copy from the publisher. I’ve personally loved Sarah Mae’s writings for years and was so excited to read this book. It did not disappoint. I enjoyed feeling like I was reading the personal thoughts and feelings of Sarah Mae. I loved watching her learn through sometimes painful experiences, that Jesus is the only one who can heal all. I do wish she would have gone into more detail on some of her experiences, or how she felt during some of the specific interactions with her mom. However, I also realize a lot of that is personal and sharing more deeply in a book format may not be the best way of doing it. If you have gone through a rocky relationship with someone you love, this book is for you. It would be a wonderful tool to lead you into healing.

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