Release date: January 28th 2014
Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.
But Emma can’t tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.
Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn’t have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.
Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?
I have read only one of Elizabeth Scott’s books before – Perfect You – and I had loved her style of storytelling. It focuses on relationships between people and she writes them so wonderfully that you can feel every emotion in the character. The characters themselves are so well-rendered and realistic that you can’t help but love her writing. So, I was looking forward to read Heartbeat even though I don’t read much of contemporary YA.
In Heartbeat, Scott has told the story in the voice of Emma, a 17yr old girl who not only lost her mother, but the family and life she had. She can’t reconcile this new situation with her previous and her rage makes her lash out. Her pain is persistent, as her mother is dead yet kept alive by her stepfather, on artificial life support, so that the child could be born. She has no closure because she can’t totally get over the loss of her mom while her body is still alive in the hospital. The storytelling makes every emotion of hers alive – whether she is grieving, or whether she is feeling numb. You can feel her pain and goodness, it makes you cry. I was crying since chapter 8, I guess, and whenever my tears would dry out, another scene would get me teary-eyed again.
Her relationship with her stepfather is so complicated – they all were a happy family once, and ready to welcome the new addition to the family. Now with his decision to keep her mother’s body alive for the baby’s sake, she hates him and wants to punish him for putting her through the torture of having to see her mother daily, in that state. She blames him for not caring for her mother enough and fears abandonment.
During this difficult time, she meets Caleb who is a kindred soul. He is also grieving a lost one and his grief made him do things he will have to live with. At first, she feels he might save her from herself but she ends up saving him and in doing so, she realizes what she has been doing all along. There is romance but it does not take center stage; Emma’s story is what the focus of the book is and that makes it more beautiful.
A particularly interesting fact about this book is that, though it is completely written from Emma’s perspective, you can feel the emotions of every other character – not through Emma but through the prose. The narrative is dynamic and keeps up with the subtle shifts in Emma’s emotions. The overall mood of the book is sad and heart-wrenching but if you want to read a book that really makes you feel, then this is the book for you.
Received a copy from Harlequin Teen via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.