Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Heartbeat - Elizabeth Scott

Heartbeat Elizabeth Scott
Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Source/Format: Publisher (Thanks!) || Bound manuscript
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

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? (from Goodreads)

Heartbeat is not an easy book to read. The situation it revolves around is unique – Emma’s mother is brain dead, but her body is being kept alive because Emma’s baby brother is growing inside of her. But a part from the dramatic conflict of the situation it revolves around, there’s weightiness to every word of this story. It’s nearly impossible to avoid feeling the full force impact of the emotions that plague Emma – a deep despair, a growing anger, festering resentment and an ache of emptiness that won’t go away.

These emotions are harsh and negative, so it’s not unexpected that readers will find it difficult to like Emma at first. I struggled with understanding all the provocation, the bite to Emma’s remarks, her lack of interest in her former passions and goals and the stone exterior to her emotions, especially with her stepfather. But if her situation is considered – she’s young and just lost the one person in the world she loves most – it makes a whole lot more sense. Elizabeth Scott portrays Emma’s grief and hurt in a way that was so real that I wanted to hug her a lot of the time!

As Heartbeat progresses, the truth behind Emma’s feelings is revealed. I really liked that most of the revelation comes from witnessing Emma in a few key moments of vulnerability – with her mother, her stepfather, her best friend and even this boy Calvin. Her relationships with each one of them affect her journey with grief. With her mother, it keeps pulling her back into despair to be so close to her, but to know that she’s no longer really here. With her stepfather, she’s angry with him for putting her in this situation without consulting her first, thus breaking apart the close relationship they formerly had. Then there’s Olivia, her best friend, who provides a sense of normalcy and comfort, and Calvin, who understands all of Emma, even the pieces that appear to be broken. 

Heavy and thought-provoking, Heartbeat was interesting. It’s an introspective sort of novel, so it takes things a little longer to progress. But it allows readers to really get to know Emma, and understanding how she feels and why is key to appreciating the story. Heartbeat also does an incredible job of showcasing Emma’s various relationships, as well as inspiring the reader to try to put herself in Emma’s shoes (or maybe those of other characters) and try to figure out what they would do in that situation. For that alone, I’d say it was well worth my time to read.

12 comments:

  1. I have a signed copy of Heartbeat from BEA last year but I have yet to sit down and read it. I think I need to be in the right mindset to do so. I do look forward to reading it though because it sounds like it's going to be a book that is well worth reading and experiencing! :)

    ~Allison @ Good Books & Good Wine

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    1. I agree with your thinking - you definitely have to be in the right mindset for this book! I hope you do get around to reading it, and when you do, I hope you enjoy it.

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  2. I love what you had to say about Emma as a character, how she does come off as rather unpleasant, but given her situation it makes total sense. I thought this book was so beautiful. It was definitely a hard read, like you said, but also a very powerful one. I wasn't a fan of the Caleb part of the story, but everything else was really well done!

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    1. I really liked how this book really told the story of Emma's grief and anger at her situation! It's not easy to read about, and the things she does as a result of both emotions are not always things I'd approve it. But it felt authentic to her and her situation, so yes, definitely beautiful.

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  3. I'm glad you enjoyed Heartbeat, I really liked it, too. It's one of those books where I feel like I've heard people say Emma is too angst-y or melodramatic, but I mean, look at her situation! I agree with you that it's a book that really makes you think.

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    1. I absolutely agree! Emma is going through a tough situation, and while that doesn't excuse her actions, it kind of helps the reader understand them.

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  4. First of all, that cover is gorgeous right?
    I'm glad you enjoyed Heartbeat; I did, too. I didn't always like Emma (I thought her treatment of her step dad was out of line sometimes, and her stubbornness could be quite frustrating), but I could sympathize with her as well.

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    1. Yes! The cover really caught my eye. I also always didn't like Emma, but totally sympathized with her and tried to be understanding.

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  5. I actually struggled a bit with this one because of Emma. While, upon a second reading, I could reconcile with her actions more, I felt she was just too petty for me to really relate to her for a good while. Great honest review, Alexa!

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    1. That's totally understandable, as her character is so hard to like! I just think that I was cutting her some slack because the girl is going through a majorly awful situation.

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  6. OOF! I have this ARC from BEA and it sounds emotionally painful to read...I still am unsure on my thoughts on this but know I should read it...I like that you say how her feelings are really looked at and are slow to develop and builds. That might make me want to pick it up...great review, A!

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    1. I hope you choose to read this when you're in the mood for it! It's a bit quieter as a contemporary, and Emma isn't always likable. But it's good.

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