at last… Review & Giveaway: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

February 5, 2018 Book Review, Young Adult 18 ★★★★

at last… Review & Giveaway: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

I received this book for free from Traded in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Our Chemical HeartsOur Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland
Published by Putnam Books for Young Readers on October 4th 2017
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Traded
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Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him-at least not yet. Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.

Grace isn't who Henry pictured as his dream girl-she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys' clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there's something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn't your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland's brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.

‘at last…’ is a feature here at Forever 17 Books where I read and review older titles from my shelves, voted by you, and then give away my copy! Stick around after the review and giveaway to vote for next month’s ‘at last…’ read!

I’m not sure what I expected with Our Chemical Hearts. First love and tragic romance, perhaps? And yeah, it is indeed a coming of age story about first love and all the ways it changes you and teaches you more about yourself, but I would not call this a romance because where there is touches of it here and there, this is not a love story, though tragic for sure.

This story is very character driven and if you are anything like me, you will ache for them both in different ways. Henry has never really had a romantic interest in anyone before. When new girl Grace enters his life she is not at all the type of girl he expected his first crush to be like. She wears baggy boy clothes, is very unkempt, and walks with a cane. But something about her intrigues him. She’s very mysterious and odd but that only amplifies his interest as he wants to truly know her.

The mysteries of Grace aren’t so obvious to Henry at first but they are to the readers. She is still coming to terms with a trauma in her life and recovery both mentally and physically. There is a mental health story arc we uncover here and it’s interesting in the way that this story is told from an outside perspective of Henry so we don’t always understand Grace’s actions and reactions but focus more of how Henry deals with it all. My heart went out to Grace and her circumstances, even when it was hard to because of the repercussions on Henry. You can’t really fault a person for handling their grief and trauma in whatever way they need to which is why I ached for Grace and had a lot of empathy for her. But with a direct line into Henry’s thoughts and feelings with his POV, he was the focus and I loved how the author crafted this dynamic.

I found myself growing so attached to Henry throughout the novel. We get to see him navigate these new feelings as he tries to figure out just how to proceed with them, gain some confidence, and put himself out there. It was cute how naive he was in this facet of his life and going along with him on the journey was pretty special and reminded me of how it felt for myself to experience it for the first time too. There were some adorkable moments in his pursuit including a typed letter and a power point presentation on why Grace should date him. But what I loved about it was how much he learned about himself in the process. 

Though filled with angst, there were a lot of sweet moments and positive relationships to enjoy. I adored Henry’s closeness with his down to earth parents and sister with often hilarious results. The friendship between Henry and two of his best friends was also delightful. They were dedicated to being there for each other but weren’t afraid to call each other out on bad behavior, which was quite necessary with one in particular.

With a story so raw, real, and filled with emotion I was torn on how I wanted it to play out in the end but I think the author handled it just right and exactly how it should. It was the perfect blend of angst and sweetness and absolutely worth picking up!

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1. Giveaway is US only!
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Time to vote for next month’s at last… read!

About Krystal Sutherland

Hello. It’s me.

I am Krystal Sutherland, writer of books. Or, more specifically, I am the writer of two books, Our Chemical Hearts, which was published in October 2016, and A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares, which will be released in September 2017.

I was born and raised in Townsville, in the far north of Australia, an inhospitable place filled with crocodiles and jellyfish. Since moving to Sydney in 2011, I’ve also lived in Amsterdam, Hong Kong, (though I speak neither Dutch nor Cantonese), and Palo Alto in California.

Growing up, I never dreamed of being a writer. I wanted to be a) a florist, then b) a volcanologist, then c) an actress. It wasn’t until shortly after my 18th birthday that I sat down to write my first (terrible, unpublished) novel.

I have no pets and no children, but in Amsterdam I owned a Dutch bicycle called Kim Kardashian. It was somewhat difficult to get along with; I was fond of it regardless.

I currently live between Palo Alto and Sydney with my boyfriend.

Sara @ Forever 17 Books

18 Responses to “at last… Review & Giveaway: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland”

  1. Dena @ Batch of Books

    Our Chemical Hearts has been on my “want to read” list forEVER. I love the cover and from what you’ve said, it sounds like a pretty good read, too. I like that you fell in love with the characters. Good characters are everything.

  2. Sandy S.

    I’m glad that you say it’s really not a romance novel and more of a coming-of-age and personal growth novel, as I was riding the fence about it. After reading your review, this sounds like a novel I would really enjoy. Relationships with others, self-discovery and struggles- sounds like reality. Thanks for the review.

  3. Danielle Hammelef

    I love character-driven stories and when the author can make me laugh this is definitely a book for me to read.

  4. Kelly @ Here's to Happy Endings

    I read this book a while back (and even made cupcakes for it!) and really, really enjoyed it. It was one of those books that was so emotional and fun at the same time, and I love that cover more than I can say. I actually read it again over the holidays because my best friend bought me a copy of it.

    Awesome review, and I’m glad you enjoyed it!
    Kelly @ Here’s to Happy Endings recently posted…Blog Tour: Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce – Review and Giveaway!My Profile

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