Release Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Review Source: Netgalley
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
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?
Going into this book I didn't expect it to be so emotional and hard hitting, which I guess is naive considering the subject matter. Elizabeth Scott definitely knows how to write situations where you really feel what her characters are feeling. Reading this, I could feel Emma’s pain and experience how empty and angry she felt. Heartbeat definitely isn’t a happy book. It’s a heart wrenching journey, however there are some moments of light that make it bearable.
Emma is someone who is hard to like at times. She only sees things her way, and she sees things in black and white. Emma can't entertain the idea that keeping her mom alive on machines (in order to give her baby brother a chance to live) is the right one. It’s either her opinion or it’s wrong, which was frustrating to read about. To read about a character like this would normally turn me off, but this is a girl who has lost her mom but still has to see her on machines. She sees her little brother growing, but simultaneously has to accept her mom is dead. Basically, it’s a lot, so if anyone is entitled to be a brat, Emma is. The important thing is that Emma does eventually realize what's important, and she does change, even if it takes her awhile.
The secondary characters in this novel are pretty great. I loved the supportive friendship from Olivia and the glimpses into what kind of a stepfather Dan had always been (an awesome one, which made me hopeful that he and Emma could be like that again). I also loved the burgeoning romance between Emma and Caleb. When Caleb was first introduced I wondered how "that type of boy" could turn out to be the love interest, which I think was done on purpose, because that’s how everyone in the book sees Caleb. He’s viewed as troubled and dangerous. That’s exactly how Emma would have seen him before, but in their situations now, they recognize things in each other. We get to see Caleb from Emma’s perspective, discovering who he really is and all the things he's been dealing with. While Emma and Caleb can't fix each other, I do think they make each other stronger, which was great to read about.
Heartbeat is an incredibly emotional read. It made me cry and get a stomachache, I was that invested in it. However, it’s also a beautiful book, about life and family and love. It sends a message that you should make every minute count, be thankful for what you have, and always let people know that you appreciate them -- however, it says all these things without preaching about them, which is always nice. If you can handle a book about a heavier subject matter, then this is definitely one to check out.
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