I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott
Published by HarlequinTeen on January 28, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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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?
Oh, Heartbeat, why do you put me in this position? I wanted to like you, I did. I would’ve settled for feeling nothing. Or even mild dislike. This is such a weird feeling for me — wanting to have the hours I spent reading you back. But alas, that’s where I find myself.
To be fair, I don’t blame the book. It did the best with what it was given. Heartbeat is about a girl named Emma coping with her mother’s sudden death and her stepfather’s decision to keep the mother’s brain-dead body hooked up to machines so that she can incubate their unborn son for as long as possible. Sounds conflicty and controversial, right? But really, it’s just a whole lot of Emma yelling this:
And doing this:
I know it’s sad. It’s a tough topic. But why would someone decide to write an entire book about a girl who just cries and yells and cries and yells again? Literally every single chapter shows Emma crying and flinging her nonsensical logic at Dan, her stepfather. And that was all that happened for the first half of the book, before The Boy showed up. Caleb is, of course, beautiful and broken and understanding because his little sister died when he was supposed to be watching her. Caleb is an okay enough character — if you can overlook the fact that all the characters in this book are very one-note — but his relationship with his parents really ruin any scene he’s in. Caleb’s parents blame him for his sister’s death. Okay, yeah, I’ve heard that before; it’s messed up, but it happens. But Caleb’s parents apparently hate him; they can’t look at him, can’t spend time with him, can’t even live with him (he lives in the garage apartment). When they meet Emma for the first time, they implore her to leave Caleb immediately because, well, look what happened to his sister.
REALLY? Do people act this way? Do parents really insinuate that their son might let you, his new girlfriend, die on his watch because he’s done it before? Maybe I’m just over-critical as a non-parent, but this seemed extremely far-fetched to me. Aside from my problems with the plot and the characters, the writing really annoyed the crap out of me. The sentence structure is crazy repetitive. The first half of the book is written in short, choppy sentences that almost always begin with “I.” The second half suddenly explores more of a stream-of-consciousness style that just doesn’t work. The author also thinks she’s making really deep observations all the time, when really, she’s saying nothing. Like here:
“He is who he is because of who he is and nothing more and that makes him so special.”
No, it doesn’t.
“It feels strange but not false. It feels true, and that’s because it is.”
Yes, that’s what true means.
So, I’m sorry. I wanted to like this book. I had plans to like this book. Even when I realized how much Emma was going to annoy me, I thought I’d just hold out for the sweet and tender budding relationship between Emma and Caleb. Nope. Unfortunately, it’s hard for me to find any redeeming qualities in Heartbeat. Better luck next time, I guess.