A beautiful look at life and death.
This review will be available on Such A Novel Idea
closer to publication.
There are some books that take time to reach out and grab you. They are slow to start and require you to fully commit before they give you that rush of feelings and emotions. And then there are books that leap off the page, grabbing a hold of your mind, heart, and soul from the very first page.
Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott is definitely of the later. This book was so complex and intricate. We have a girl who is devastated by the loss of her mother, and yet feels she can't fully grieve for a woman who is kept as an incubator for what will (hopefully) be her baby brother. This obviously isn't just your average teenager coping with death story. There are so many tangles, with her relationship with the friend from 'before', to the 'troubled' boy she bonds with, to her stepfather.
I think reading this book as an adult, and being a mom, I obviously saw beyond our young narrator. I was able to see the book from dual perspectives: hers and as a parent. I think this alone made me appreciate the book so much more than I would have as a teenager.
The ethical dilemma faced in this book was also something that was of interest to me. I am kind of obsessed with Law and Order: SVU, and I'm pretty sure there has been an episode or two dealing with this subject matter. While it obviously isn't something that happens everyday, I do feel like it is a conundrum that will allow a teenage reader to work through in a critical way. A teen romance that can also be used as a critical thinking exercise is something I definitely will advocate for!
The pain, grief, and romance between Emma and Caleb was amazing. The two were such battered souls who found each other at the very right moment. And the lesson Elizabeth Scott teaches by their relationship is something all teenagers need to hear: you are so much more than the things that happen to you and the labels you are given.
I do think that Emma's grief throughout was cyclical. Some may say that it was too repetitive, but I really think it was realistic -- a person in that much pain and grief is going to dwell and go over and over the same things.
Overall, this book is something I will highly recommend to mature teenagers and adults who enjoy tough issues and don't mind a tear or two on their book.
4 out of 5 stars