Author: Elizabeth Scott
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Expected publication: January 28, 2014; 304 pages
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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 have mixed feelings about Heartbeat. While I think it’s Scott’s best work so far in terms of writing and storytelling, the characters didn’t impress me much.
The truth is, I hated Emma. I can’t say that about many fictional characters, but that is the reaction her selfishness evoked from me. I didn’t expect to feel this way about her, since she is grieving and perhaps I was supposed to feel sympathetic. But the way she handled certain aspects of her situation disturbed me. I understand that she is young, and we all grieve in our own way, but I’ve been through too many deaths in my short years, but I could never imagine reacting to things the way she did. Treating her stepfather the way she did. I was pleased to see her grow and see the things that were right in front of her all along, but there were certain amends she could have, SHOULD have made, but never did. It bothered me a bit.
Caleb was okay. He certainly had the potential to be swoon-worthy, but unfortunately neither he nor his messed up life are explored enough to take it to that level for me. Same goes for her stepfather and her best friend. I wish we had spent more time getting to know these characters and less time inside Emma’s head, which was not only difficult because she was selfish, but also because it became a bit repetitive.
All that said, as both a mother and someone who has buried way too many close relatives in her short time, I found Heartbeat relatable. If I wasn’t able to relate to the story through my own loss, I think Emma would have made it impossible for me to keep reading. But if I understand anything it’s loss, and in the end, Heartbeat not only pulled at my heartstrings, but was also surprisingly thought provoking.