Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: Heartbeat

Title: Heartbeat
Author: Elizabeth Scott
ISBN: 0373210965
Book Genre: YA Contemporary
Release Date: January 28th 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Book Source: NetGalley

Goodreads Synopsis:
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?

Hello, and welcome to another heartbreaking story. All aboard? All ready for the non-ending waterworks and emotional turmoil? I know for a fact I hadn't seen it coming, so I just wanted to give you guys a heads up. I'll try to make this as spoiler free as I can, but to be honest, most of the storyline should be obvious from the spoiler. I am just very emotional so I hope I do this right!

To be honest, when I first read the synopsis of this book, it sounded like the kind of emotional I'd better steer clear of, I had better just not read it. Not because I had expected to be so drawn into the emotional havoc that is this book, but because it didn't seem like my kind of story. I honestly thought it was one of those books I'd hate from the second chapter and that's that. However, I started to cry from the second chapter. So I continued reading.

Also, it needs to be said, there are various points in the story I wasn't exactly fond of, but I can't exactly mention them right now because: a) They're not exactly spoiler-free. b) I'm pretty sure they are personal preferences exclusive to me. You should know by this point that I have weird quirks when it comes to contemporary novels. Sometimes I hate what everyone loves, and other times I love what everyone hates. These are those kinds of points, but they're so minor and inconsequential in the large scheme of things.

What I did love so much about the book:

1) Olivia. Who happens to be Emma's best friend. You know how in stories when the protagonist suffers from a really horrible loss and is forever changed, the best friend tends to attempt to be supportive at first, but then it gets so difficult to do so, and eventually the best friends reevaluates her priorities and ditches her grieving friend to live on with her life. That has happened in so many books I've read lately it's ridiculous. But not Olivia, no sirree. Olivia is the perfect best friend. She's there through thick and thin, she's just there. Always, no matter what, when her friend skips a day of school, when her friend needs a ride, when her friend isn't ready to face her stepdad, when her friend wants to cry or bitch about her stepdad, when she wants to spend the night to not actually face the stepdad. All the time, she is definitely there. Even when she has something thrilling happening in her life and can't wait to talk about it, and Emma wouldn't be paying much attention, she understands, she doesn't think Emma is selfish. It's Emma who actually begs her to talk about her life just to escape hers, and even whilst doing so, she doesn't enjoy it because she feels that Emma's miseries put perspective to her 'shallow' life thrills. She doesn't like when Emma is spending more time with Caleb, but mostly because she's overprotective, and she is jealous that she talks to him more. Olivia felt so real, especially with her weird electronic quirks, she was such a great character.

2) Dan. The stepdad. He's very flawed, I really get that, but whenever Emma would talk about how he was like before her mother died, he sounded like the perfect stepfather figure, the kind everyone should be grateful to have. That's not to say there wasn't an obvious change to him once her mother died, but he wasn't a bad person, just a person in pain and had no clue how to make major life decisions without his significant other.

3) Caleb. He's broken. Just like Emma feels she is. Caleb was the perfect person to meet at this stage of her life, and it's sad to know that, had Emma's mother stayed alive, she would have never gotten to know him, the real him. He would have remained alone and self-destructive. He had a horrible home life (which is one of the things that irked me about the book, I didn't find his parents plausible) and hard driven all his friends away. But as a person, he was great.

I read a lot of reviews before I wrote mine, just to see how other people enjoyed this book, I occasionally do that when I'm not sure if I misinterpreted what the author had intended, in this case however, I got a lot of people not finishing this book mainly because they found the protagonist too selfish. Now, I'm not saying people aren't entitled to their own opinions, and that maybe that's how they saw Emma, and I'm not even saying that they may be wrong, however, with a point like this one, the selfishness only adds merit to the book, only makes her real. Emma is a teenager who just lost her mother, a woman she had lived alone with for years before her stepdad came into the picture. They were ridiculously close, so she's convince she knew all there was to know about her mother, she felt alone after her death, that her stepdad would simply forget her, and was holding on a little too strongly to her convictions. She was also unconsciously blaming the baby for what happened to her mother. When you lose someone, when you're full of grief and pain, you tend to be irrational, you tend to think with your heart rather than your brain, and the loss is so much to deal with that you lash out and try to transfer that pain onto others. I agree that she may have been selfish, but also, I understand why she would be. It made sense.

Anyhow, I should probably stop now, because yes, I am currently crying again as I am writing this. Heartbeat is a book I would definitely recommend for everyone to read, the writing was incredible, the characters felt so real and immersed in pain, but they also learn to deal, heal and grow a little bit out of the bitterness. I will certainly be reading more from Elizabeth Scott soon!

Rating: 4/5!

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