Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott Review

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Title: Heartbeat
Author: Elizabeth Scott (Twitter)
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publish Date: January 28, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 304
Source: Publisher

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.


  1. Maybe too...emotional for me. I do not know

  2. Elizabeth Scott is an author I love, yet I don't lol. I like her books; really enjoy the actually, but I always feel like there's just something missing. I don't even know what! Maybe I don't connect with the characters enough? Who knows!

    Regardless, I'll be checking this one out, as I do with all of her other books!

  3. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! I've really been looking forward to it, so the fact that it mostly lives up to both its synopsis and early hype says a lot. Fantastic review, Melissa!(:

  4. Oh I have this book coming up pretty soon, so I'm really glad to see that it left a lasting impression with you despite you not being able to connect with the character so well. I haven't read many books by Scott but the way you've described her impeccable writing I can't wait to dive right in! Gorgeous review as always Melissa!

  5. Every time I see this title, I start singing "Heartbreak Beat" by the Psychedelic Furs (child of the 80's. I can't help it!). This book sounds like it has All the Feels...and I don't know if I'm up for that at the moment. A future read, when I'm ready for heartbreak, perhaps.

  6. I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed this book. I've had my eye on it and was wondering if it was any good. it seems that this book is emotional, but in the best way possible. I have read only one of her books before and enjoyed it, so I think I will check this one out. Great review!

  7. Hmmm. I'm not sure how to feel about this one Melissa! On the one hand, it does sound extraordinarily powerful and raises some really challenging and thought-provoking questions, but I feel like I would need to really connect to the characters in order to feel the full effect of the story. It seems like despite your underwhelming reaction to them however, the story itself was strong enough for you to give it a 4, so that's a very good thing:) Gorgeous review as always!

  8. Hmm, I have this one for review. I enjoy Elizabeth Scott's novels, but I don't think I read the description very well. I think I might have just read her name and chosen the book. Still, you enjoyed it despite your not liking the MC so I'll go into informed. Great review Melissa!

  9. I'm a nursing student and have had to work with a patient in a persistent vegetative state and their family. The experience was absolutely heart-wrenching. I went home and cried to my roommate. I haven't read this book yet, but I really want to. Characters are fundamental to me, but I did enjoyed the past Elizabeth Scott novel I've read. I love this review. Thank you.

    Samantha @ Reading-AndCoffee

  10. Sounds like a fantastic book, I enjoyed your in-depth review Melissa. It sounds like it's meant to be emotional and impactful, but unfortunately the characters held you back from experiencing that in full. Lovely review!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence


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