Book Review: My Heart Went Walking by Sally Hanan

I am pleased to welcome Sally Hanan to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her upcoming novel, My Heart Went Walking. 

Kept apart by their love for one man, two sisters embark on their own paths towards survival, love, and understanding, until all three finally meet again in the worst of circumstances. And the reality might break them all.

My Heart Went Walking is a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that sweeps from the small Irish town of Donegal to the “big smoke” of Dublin City; a book that celebrates the pull of family and the chance of redemption. It is a novel for everyone who feels connected to the Irish approach to life-that of grit and laughter-and also for everyone who loves an overriding message of hope and restoration in all things.


Una doesn’t want to leave her family, especially her sister, Ellie. It also means saying goodbye to the boy she loves. However, she holds a secret and so must make a choice..stay and reveal her secret or leave everything she’s ever known.

So, she goes to Dublin to seek a new life, with no plan and little money.

Back in her hometown, Ellie has no idea why her sister left. Even Una’s best friend, Cullen doesn’t seem to know where she is.

These three people will be reunited through the most tragic of circumstances. Secrets will be revealed that have the capacity to change their lives forever.

Set in Donegal and Dubin in 1983, My Heart Went Walking is told from the point of view of three people; Una, Cullen and Ellie.

All three are well written and develop in interesting ways. They all have to deal with pretty intense situations and it was easy to forget as I progressed through the book that they were all still teenagers, having to navigate their way through some heartbreaking and difficult circumstances.

Una has to especially grow up incredibly quickly when she finds herself in Dublin, away from home and alone. She seems very strong but when you begin to get to know her, you see that she is just a young girl who has so much fear and doesn’t want to face it. I think a lot of people can relate to that. Whether, as a reader, you agree with certain decisions she makes will be up to you to decide but I felt that she, like Cullen, was trying to do the best she could and do right by the people she loved.

Cullen is a confused guy who doesn’t understand why the girl he loves suddenly disappears. He’s very much a good guy. I really felt for him through this story as he is, in a way, stuck in the middle between his past with Una and his potential future with Ellie.

Ellie is a wonderful, likeable character who has nothing but love for both Cullen and Una.

I liked the fact that we got to see the events in this book from three different viewpoints. This helped enrich the narrative and gave us such an insight into the thoughts and emotions of these characters.

The plot moves along well and felt realistic. I could see myself in this story with these characters. I cared a lot about what happened to these people.

The setting is beautiful. The atmosphere Sally Hanan creates is so vivid and stunning. Even though it’s set in the 80’s, the writing and descriptions made it feel contemporary.

What I also loved was that it helped restore my faith in people. This came from Catherine and Des and the fact that they simply wanted to help Una with love and without judgement.

This book was a rollercoaster of emotions. I was laughing one minute, crying the next and then back to smiling and cheering.

It’s a compelling beautiful novel about love, loss, the importance of family, discovering who you are and the fact that time should never be taken for granted. It’s also about how people, even family (blood relation or not,) can always surprise you.

(Thank you to the author and publisher for a advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.) 


About Sally Hanan:

Sally Hanan is an award-wining author who writes in multiple genres. She has a nursing degree from Dublin, Ireland, but these days she edits other people’s books and is an occasional lay counselor and life coach.

Readers have described Sally’s writing as “inspiring,” “captivating,” “funny,” and “profound.” She is a 2021 Readers’ Favorite gold medal winner for her nonfiction and has won numerous awards for her fiction and poetry in smaller writing competitions.

An Irish native, she lives near Austin, Texas, thanks to a fortuitous green card lottery—in a gorgeous 1930s home with her “hunk of burning love” husband and their spoiled-rotten doggie.

Say hello via Twitter or her website

My Heart Went Walking is due to be released by Fire Drinkers Publishing on 5th February 2022. Click to pre-order on Amazon UK. 


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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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