Monday, December 30, 2013
ARC Review: Heartbeat
Harlequin Teen, 2014
Scheduled to release January 28, 2014
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I have read and loved every Elizabeth Scott novel that has been released so far so it was hard for me that this book was pushed back from an earlier 2013 release. Luckily I managed to score an early copy and sneak it in to my reading schedule before the official release.
Going in, I didn't really know what to expect other than that it is a contemporary. I had decided to treat myself by reading just a few pages as a teaser but soon myself through 20% of the book. I had to charge my e-reader then but quickly returned to finish this book. It was a struggle because despite this book's brevity, it packs quite an emotional punch.
Main character Emma visits her mother every day in the hospital accompanying her stepfather Dan in these tragic circumstances. These are made more so by the fact that her mother is essentially dead and is being kept alive in order to preserve the life of the baby inside her, a decision that Emma believes Dan made solely to beget his progeny and in complete defiance of what Emma's mother would have wanted. The loss of her mother has sent Emma deep into herself; the girl formerly on track for valedictorian is now failing all of her classes, speaks just to her best friend Olivia, and cannot fathom forgiving Dan for his egregious betrayal. However bad boy Caleb starts to catch her eye as she realizes that he is also sinking in grief. Together these two broken people may be able to continue to face the day.
Sadly I don't really have the words to sum up the experience of reading this other than to start with "intense." Emma is so sad and so angry and it is painful to read much of the time. I've been very blessed in this arena and don't have any experiences to compare but just reading about her pain was emotionally difficult. I thought Scott did an excellent job of varying the descriptors and bringing out all the facets of Emma's emotions-she's never just sad or angry or regretful but all of these and so much more over the course of the book.
One element that made me especially happy was Emma's commitment to being a good friend to Olivia and to celebrate her normality like when the boy Olivia likes likes her back! This is explicitly represented in the book and it made me happy as I've read in the blogosphere and observed myself in books how sometimes the main character just completely shuts out her best friend or doesn't even have them before being brought into a supernatural world by the hero. This book defies that stereotype.
Though there is a dreamy boy (Caleb is definitely a ten!), his emotional presence plays the biggest role for Emma here. He has also experienced death and the pall grief casts over a family so he is able to fully empathize with Emma here and be a suitable partner. Though I prefer Will in Perfect You, Caleb is a perfect match for Emma.
Overall: A heartwrenching novel about an incredibly difficult period in one's life; beautifully written.
Be sure to come back in January as I will be hosting a giveaway to coincide with the release date!