Whole Heart

Michelle Felix

Book Cover

GENRE

MEMOIR

    Core Theme

    HAVE FAITH IN YOUR DREAMS

    TIME PERIOD

    1980s & '90s,Contemporary,2000s

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    THE HORNS, WHILE THE SUN IS ABOVE US

    CHARACTER LIST

    MICHELLE: 11-39. LEAD. EMOTIONAL AND ONLY PULLING THE SHORT STRAWS AS A CHILD.

    GONUM: 30S-40S. MICHELLE'S MOTHER WHO NEVER RECOVERS FROM HER HUSBAND'S ABANDONMENT AND COMMITS SUICIDE.

    FATHER: 30S-50S. MICHELLE'S FATHER WHOM SHE FORGIVES AND SUPPORTS UNTIL HIS TRAGIC DEATH.

    SISTER: TEEN-30S. MICHELLE'S OLDER SISTER WHO ALSO STRUGGLES WITH LIFE.

    FELIX: 30S. MICHELLE'S HUSBAND AND CHEF.

    GRANDMOTHER: 60S-80S. MICHELLE'S GRANDMOTHER WHO HELPS HER IMMENSELY AS A CHILD.

    Logline

    Whole Heart is an unflinching portrait of one woman's fight for self-discovery, opportunity, and hope. There is grace and possibility in even the bleakest of places.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 18-34,35-54,55+

    Target Gender: Universal

    Setting

    South Africa, London, and United States

    Based on a True Story

    Yes

    Publishing Details

    Status: No

    Starting Description

    Whole Heart is the true story of Michelle's search for emotional healing and purpose as a young girl dreaming of the possibilities that the future might hold. She will never forget the night of July 17, the night that changed her life forever.

    Ending Description

    Through it all, hope gave her the courage to believe in dreams, forgiveness gave her the power to heal, and a higher love set her free. Through her work, Michelle emphasizes that pain can lead to goodness through growth, introspection, and faith.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    No

    ISBN

    ISBN 978-1-63752-072-7

    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements

    Happy Ending,Meaningful Message,Other

    Plot - Premise

    Quest,Tragedy,Other

    Main Character Details

    Name: Michelle Felix

    Age: 11-39

    Gender: Female

    Role: Emotional

    Key Traits: Aspiring,Complex,Gracious,Visionary,Underdog

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Gonum Pillay

    Age: 38

    Gender: Female

    Role: Emotional

    Key Traits: Aspiring,Modest,Obedient,Selfless,Educated,Gracious,Faithful,Empathetic,Desperate

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Joey

    Age: 40

    Gender: Male

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Masculine,Aggressive

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Development Pitch

    Genre

    DRAMA, RELIGION

    Brief

    Michelle comes from a broken family in South Africa. Her extended Indian family takes care of her as best they can. She reconnects with her father after her mother commits suicide. She moves to America, and marries a man in Hawaii where she currently lives.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    FIRST PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: GOOD

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: GOOD

    Theme: GOOD

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    Yes, it is accurate.

    Draw of Story

    A desperate little girl trying to grow up in dangerous South Africa with difficult family circumstances.

    Possible Drawbacks

    No.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    To see how the protagonist will overcome their next life obstacle.

    Fanbase Potential

    No.

    Awards Potential

    No.

    Envisioned Budget

    LOW BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    THE HORNS, WHILE THE SUN IS ABOVE US

    What’s New About the Story

    Michelle's honesty in her journey out of a bad situation. Perhaps more introspection into her lower moments.

    Lead Characters

    Michelle's perseverance and optimism.

    Uniqueness of Story

    It's a compelling story, but Michelle's struggles are not so unusual in the world. It would be difficult to improve while retaining its honesty.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Indie, Film - Streaming

    Analyst Recommendation

    WORK IN PROGRESS

    Justification

    Her journey was not an easy one, yet there isn't quite enough interesting material that would appeal to a large audience.

    Tips for Improvement

    More gravitas.

    Brief

    Michelle is an Indian girl growing up in dangerous South Africa with her parents, sister, and dogs. When her dad abandons his family, her humble life unravels. Her mother is a nurse who takes it hard and eventually kills herself. Michelle must move on, forgive her father, and build her own life.

    What We Liked

    Michelle's journey is pretty inspiring. With hard work, luck, and faith she is able to persevere despite her hardships. Her world shatters with her mother's suicide and her father's abandonment. Not particularly special as a child, she does her best and gets moved around a lot to different homes. With her mother as her role model, she works hard and gets an education, a husband, and contentment.

    This is a window into an interesting life. Michelle's life could have gone a thousand different tragic ways, yet her reservoir of optimism, along with a newly discovered faith, allow her the chance to rise above. From South Africa to London to California to Hawaii, her leaps of faith, buttressed by hard work and ambition, give her opportunities to be in control of her life and follow her bliss.

    Key points: Strong lead
    Emotional beats
    Varied locations
    Inspiring journey
    Characters worthy of empathy

    Synopsis

    Michelle recalls growing up in South Africa as Indian - not black, not white. Nelson Mandela was a loving man and went from prisoner to president. She recalls a story about her father as a boy when he was hit by a policeman for going into the “whites only” toilet. Her great-grandfather was brought over as an indentured servant by the British from India and farmed sugarcane. Her mother, Gonum, grew up with six siblings in a modest farmhouse. Her younger brother Stanley became an engineer and Gonum trained to be a nurse. Her father left home at 14 and ended up in the same town where Gonum attended nursing school. He was a bartender at a hotel. Michelle was born in 1982 to this loving couple in Durban, South Africa. She wasn’t great academically and was a bigger girl, as opposed to her sister who won beauty contests and excelled in school. Her parents loved her though, and her mom’s nurse training came in handy with Michelle’s asthma. Her mother, being a midwife nurse, got a government apartment that was modest but cozy. Her mother is Hindu and her dad Christian - although they lived in a mostly Indian neighborhood that was predominantly Muslim. The kids were allowed to choose their own spiritual path. She had three dogs that her father trained like police dogs and they were her best friends. They move to a house in the suburbs, and 9 year-old Michelle mourns the loss of one of her dogs. Her parents start to grow apart. Her father lost his personality and stopped coming home and doing things for Gonum. He announces that he can’t do it anymore, and Michelle passes out. They take her to the hospital where she stays for a week. Her mother is always sad and her father barely speaks to her mother, who tries to commit suicide by overdosing. Her father gets her to the hospital in time to save her life.

    Gonum gets the house and dad moves out. Michelle’s older sister goes with him and Michelle stays with her mother. Dad comes to visit once a week but her sister never came, nor did the dogs. Her mom and dad would have long talks but to no avail. Dad would demand money. Mom takes her to her nurse friend Priscilla’s house sometimes where Michelle plays with her three daughters while their moms go to work together. Gonum stays at Priscilla’s while the rest of them go to a wedding, but when they get back she has hanged herself. Michelle can’t accept that her mother is gone until the ashes are scattered. Her dad is despised by her mother’s side of the family and Michelle and her sister stay with their aunt while dad marries his second wife.

    Eventually Michelle moves back in with her dad but his new wife despises her. She makes her do chores, including cleaning the rain gutters. When her dad finds out that Michelle is ten years old and cleaning gutters outside in a storm, he kicks his new wife out and takes Michelle to the police station where they take pictures of her bruised knees. Then, he leaves her at her aunt’s house. School isn’t going well; she doesn’t want friends because she doesn’t want to have to talk about her family. The dogs are left alone at their old house, and Michelle walks an hour every day to feed them, until she finds one of the dogs trapped in a fence and dead. They give away the other dog. Her grandmother is kind to her and takes care of her, but Michelle is not entirely comfortable in her aunt’s home because she is a burden. Her grandmother tries to find an orphanage to take her, but her mother’s other sister is angry at this and takes Michelle to Pretoria where she feels wanted again. They go to a non-denominational church, and Michelle finds God. She becomes a part of the church and no longer lives in the past. Her grandmother calls her and tells her she knows where her father is. Michelle saves her lunch money to buy a bus ticket and takes the nine hour journey back to where she grew up and goes to her dad’s apartment. He is not happy to see her and makes her go until he can leave his new wife long enough to come downstairs and take Michelle to the house of a married couple where she stays for weeks. Her father comes over a couple of times a week and talks to the man and gives him money. Michelle gets along with the wife. She can’t understand why her father doesn’t want her until she finds out that he has this new wife and new identity that doesn’t include children. She goes back to her aunt’s house, and has to repeat the school year. She is happy to be at church again, and her sister comes and lives with them for a while. She’s sixteen and has a baby and a husband although she’s left them. She gets a job and her own place and Michelle goes to live with her. Her sister loses her job and their grandmother discovers they are living poorly and calls their father. The two sisters go to their father’s, who has told his new wife about his daughters. Cramped into an apartment, the girls look for work and get jobs and move to an apartment below. Michelle finds out that the UK is taking South Africans for work visas, so she applies and uses some money her mother left for her to go to England. Her father cries when she leaves, so she forgives him, finally sure that he loves her. It takes her a month to find a job, then she becomes a caregiver to older people and enjoys it. She comes back to Africa as a volunteer to help the poor and teaches English to children. Back in South Africa, she becomes a phlebotomist and a cousin from her mother’s side of the family walks into the clinic. She is randomly reunited with her mother’s family, and they’d been looking for her. She goes to a big wedding and has tearful reunions with family members.

    Michelle applies for a US green card and after a lengthy process she is selected. She goes to Atlanta and ends up living in Savannah, but then gets a caregiver job in Mississippi. After that she works at a live-in retirement home but the work is hard and she has a panic attack. She applies for college and gets scholarships and majors in psychology. She works and sends money home to her dad, and lives with two older women. One shows up at her work and tells Michelle that her father has been killed. He was shot in the street. Devastated, she takes the long flight back to South Africa and is in charge of his funeral. She stays for six months, trying to find out who killed her father but has no luck. She gets a call back to be a flight attendant for American Airlines and flies to Dallas for the gruelling training. She almost doesn’t pass, but then she does, and everyone there applauds her graduation. She goes to Hawaii for a friend’s wedding and meets a chef named Felix. They keep in touch and she goes back to see him. He gives up drinking for her and they get married and live in Hawaii. Her family invites them to South Africa where they have prepared another wedding. It’s big and grand and Felix wins them over with his cooking and Michelle is very happy. They get a safari as a wedding gift and Michelle is humbled to see a rhino one morning.

    They try to buy a home in Hawaii but get turned down for the loan. Michelle is devastated but trusts in God to provide a home for them, and they get a place with an ocean view to rent. She adopts a boxer puppy and names him Felix Jr. She learns to ride a motorcycle and gets her license. While working as a flight attendant, she’s gone a lot, but it provides her time on her Dallas-Hawaii route to study for a graduate degree in psychology. When the pandemic hits, Felix loses his job. Due to her asthma, Michelle is afraid to be on an airplane so quits being a flight attendant and gets a job with at-risk youth. She is comfortable in the knowledge that she has honored her parents with her hard work and perseverance.

    About The Author

    Michelle Felix is a social worker, humanitarian, and author. She was born and raised in Durban, South Africa. She immigrated to the United States in 2011 in search of a better life. She currently lives and writes in Hawaii.