Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott
Source: ARC (paperback)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars :star :star :star
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Out of all the books I've read this year, I've never so abruptly changed my mind about a book. Let me explain. I started reading Heartbeat and just couldn't handle the main character, Emma. Her grief for her mother, who recently passed away, spilled over into hatred for her step-father. I knew she was grieving, but the pure hate she felt for a dad who loved her -- well, it was hard to swallow. It wasn't fun to read. It was a one star book in my eyes during that time; I couldn't see any redeeming qualities in Emma. Nor could I find myself interested in any other characters.
But then we meet Caleb. Caleb is a bad boy who is also an enigma. Emma meets him at the hospital (where she is everyday) to see her mother who kept alive by machines because she's carrying Emma's half-brother. Or, as Emma calls it, "a thing." Caleb is at the hospital for volunteer work that was mandated by court after he stole his fathers car and dumped it in the lake. He's been a druggie, he's been suspended, and way back when people remember he once was popular and had friends. Caleb used to smile, but that was before he lost someone too. So he knows how grief is.
Once Caleb and Emma become friends, I really started to enjoy the story. I also kinda just had to tell myself it was her grief that made her act like a bratty shit. When I got past that, I started to sympathize with the entire situation; and for both Emma and her step-dad, Dan. Emma also has a really amazing best friend. It reminded me of my best friend in High School, and I liked that their friendship stayed together throughout Emma's grief and troubles. Olivia, Emma's bestie, was a sweet girl and I had fun reading about her. It also took the story off of the hate hate hate anger rage that was making up the first part. It gave some dynamic to the plot, which it needed. Once other characters were established and Caleb was introduced, I really started to appreciate the story.
Another good thing about this book were the quotes. There were so many wonderful little quotes. I love a contemporary novel that has save-worthy quotations. This is definitely that type of book.
"I should know this by now, but grief is slippery, a tangle of thorns that dig in so deep you don't know where they stop and you start. You don't know where you are." (Pg. 87 of ARC)
"The people that need to see things clearly the most, tend to miss life, believe they are living it when they are only letting it pass by." (Pg. 223 of ARC)
"Words can lie but hugs can't. You know when they are real and this is real and Dan is here and that means he didn't leave me, that he's not going to send me away to Mom's parents or some boarding school or just kick me out. It means the Dan I knew is here. That I still matter to him." (Pg 173 of ARC)
I'm not sure if it's a positive or not, but I did cry a bit while reading this book. I mean, everytime I picked it up I would have tears in my eyes at some point. I'm not a crier usually while reading; but that could be because I try to stay away from sad books. Definitely keep some tissues handy while reading this-- it's a tearjerker. It has a ton of feels and the grief that Emma and Dan go through is so
raw and real. It's not pretty, or smooth at all. It's rough and intense, shocking and hard to read at some points. Emma is very angry, and her anger and hate are palpable.
Heartbeat will take you on an emotional and heart wrenching journey through grief. Broken hearts, broken families, and broken lives are dealt with in an honest way. The writing is superb, the subject matter is difficult. The characters are flawed, but real and full of emotion. The ending was a cry fest, but I was satisfied with it.
I'll definitely be reading more from this author.
If you like a book with tons of heart and emotion, feels and issues also, read Heartbeat. It's not a story of grief where the tough issues are ignored or softened. Nothing is softened, it's intense and emotional. Make sure you have tissues handy.
January 14, 2014
ARC Review of Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott
(aka Dee) has loved reading for as long as she can remember. She loves many things: fantasy novels, young adult fiction, her cat, painting, and horror films from the 70s. Diamond is a grad student at UCLA. She's pursuing a Master's in Library and Information Science.