Author: Elizabeth Scott (Twitter)
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publish Date: January 28, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
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 was hooked from the first sentence of the synopsis of Heartbeat. For those who follow my blog and my reviews, you know that my forays into contemporary fiction have been rough and, at times, inconsistent. It's a genre that, when done well, has the ability to speak to your heart and soul. However, if it's done poorly, a novel can keep you at arms length and actually prevent you from truly getting to know the characters and become invested in the story. Elizabeth Scott is a veteran of this type of novel, thrusting readers into situations that are wholeheartedly transformative, as they force you to feel.
Heartbeat is a challenging novel from page one, both in context and in content, and parts of it soar, while other aspects of the novel had me grappling with reality vs. fantasy. The issues presented in the novel are powerful and poignant. The novel gives us a moral and an ethical question, but it challenges you to put yourself in Emma's place and understand what is happening as her world crumbles around her. Is it ethical to keep a person in a persistent vegetative state, if only to act as a human incubator for the child within their womb? It's not a question for which it is easy to pinpoint an answer, so it's fairly reasonably to assume that this is where a lot of Emma's unrest comes from.
However, it must be said that I struggled a lot with Emma as a character. She came across as extremely selfish, childish and self-centered at times, and I have a difficult time reconciling with such actions. Her voice kept me out, so I never felt as though I could access her hidden pain, which I'm sure she was concealing under a facade of angst. Furthermore, her interactions with Dan didn't resonate all that well with me, and I'd hoped to really get a bit more from both of their characters through their interactions with one another.
In all honestly, the story of Heartbeat is a powerhouse, but I felt removed from the characters, which lessened its lasting impact on me. This novel definitely deepened my understanding of the complexity of such issues, but I think if more pain and true anger had been injected into these characters, it might have breathed life into an otherwise beautiful book.
Ms. Scott is an author whose books I will continue to read, regardless of any qualms I might have with her novels, if only because her writing style is impeccable. There is such a beauty and honesty in her words that keeps me captivated - even when the characters, themselves, aren't. While I had issues with Heartbeat in some ways, overall, I enjoyed the book. I give it a 4 out of 5, and I definitely recommend readers formulate their own opinions of this novel. I recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy contemporary fiction.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.