Author: Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: January 2014
Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Contemporary
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.
I received a free copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Emma speaks to her Mom everyday, but she never responds. Her mother is being kept alive through a variety of machines, to keep the baby that is growing inside of her alive before it’s born. Caleb has community service in the hospital after a series of bad choices lands him there. Together, they may find a way to heal each other, and forgive themselves.
Heartbeat is a very emotional story. I found tears streaming down my face as I read, surprised by how much the story was affecting me. I love Emma. She’s hurt and confused and feeling betrayed and abandoned. Not only from her mother, who she loved dearly, but also by her step-father who can now only focus on the new baby and doesn’t seem to see Emma at all. Emma flashes back to loving, warm times between her mother, step-father and herself. We see how wonderful and caring their family was and how much Emma loved her step dad. Only for all of that to change once her mother died and he started using her mom as an incubator.
Caleb’s family life is heartbreaking as well. I loved how different each of their families were and how everyone dealt with grief differently.
I want to point out this is not just a love story. Yes, there is some romance in it. But it’s more about Emma and her family’s new dynamic. It’s about grief and healing. It’s about how sometimes, people are too far gone to see the love that’s right in front of them. What really stood out where the conversations between her and her step-dad Dan. I loved how torn he was, how he tries and tries and fails. He’s so emotionally worn and tired and my heart went out to him and Emma. Her anger and confusion felt real and justified as much as his did.
I also love her scenes with her best friend Olivia. Olivia is a true friend and her and Caleb seem to be at odds in Emma’s life. It is so realistic and honest. I especially enjoyed one of the scenes at the end when Olivia and Emma speak about how she keeps them both separate and how she can talk to Caleb about some things and Olivia about others. How Emma wants some normalcy and how we compartmentalize people. We give and take certain things from different people, especially during traumatic events. This rang totally true for me.
There’s no sugar coating the tough choices the familys’ make in this book, and honestly, I’m glad that Scott did such a wonderful job at writing flawed and human characters. There are no bad guys, no good guys. There are only the choices we make and what we think we can live with.
Rating 8 Cookie Worthy