I received this book for free from ARC Tour in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Harlequin Teen on January 28th 2014
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Source: ARC Tour
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Life. Death. And...Love?
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 see what grief does, how it strips you bare, shows you all the things you don’t want to know. That loss doesn’t end, that there isn’t a moment where you are done, when you can neatly put it away and move on.It never leaves you.
What an emotional, touching story I found in Heartbeat, which explores grief and love in such an honest and serious way.
Our main character, Emma, is struggling with the aftermath of losing her mother. But, she hasn’t fully lost her mother just yet, as she is kept alive to give the baby she is carrying time to grow and develop so he can survive birth, and Emma adamantly disagrees with this decision. This is the focus of the story and what an emotional ride it was. Being a teenager is hard enough as it is. Add in a situation like this and I cannot even imagine the difficulties of keeping your emotions in check. Poor Emma was angry, so very angry she didn’t know how to not be anymore. And she’s hurt and lonely too. Because even though her mom is technically gone, and she knows it and has come to terms with it, she is still present in her life as she lays in the hospital bed day after day. The lack of closure is sending Emma into a downward spiral she doesn’t know how to get out of. Every hospital visit caused my heart to break for her as I tried to come to terms with how I would feel if put in the same situation at that age. The author captured it perfectly.
I am angry. I am so angry I feel like it’s all I am.
Sometimes angry main characters can feel overwhelming, but I never felt that here. Her feelings were justified, from her point of view. Emma’s step-father has chosen to keep her mom alive for the baby, but Emma disagrees that it is something her mom would choose. At first I couldn’t understand why she would feel so negatively about waiting for the baby to be healthy enough to survive. Emma saw this pregnancy as something her mom feared after years of trying and having so many risks. But was Emma interpreting her mother’s words and actions the right way? Well that’s something she has to work through with herself and her step-father.
As for Caleb, and the romance department, it is there but felt so much more like two people coming together to support and understand each other as they work through the tragedies of their lives. Caleb’s story is another filled with sadness, guilt and above all, loneliness. I just wanted to hug these two and tell them everything would be okay. The romance wasn’t overdone, but added just a nice little touch to the right degree.
He looks at me like I am beautiful, and when he does, I am.
If you are looking for a touching story of overcoming grief and anger with well done characters and writing, this is one I would absolutely recommend.