Sunday, 19 January 2014

Review: Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Title: Heartbeat
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Release date: January 28th 2014
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: eARC
Pages: 240
Source: Edelweiss

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?

I went into this book not expecting too much, and I'm happy to say it completely blew me away. I'm actually surprised at the low ratings and less-than-great reviews I've seen of Heartbeat, because to me, this is such a powerful and beautiful book. It's deep and profound and very thought-provoking. It's the kind of YA contemporary everyone should read, and I'm certainly happy I did.

The premise of Heartbeat is nothing I've ever come across before, in the real or fictional world. Keeping a brain-dead pregnant woman 'alive' so her baby can make it out? I didn't even know that was possible. But it sure is, and it's what's happening to Emma's mother. Emma's whole life changed after her mother died, and the fact that she can see her every day makes things really strange for her. She's in a bad place, and she feels no one can understand her. Least of all her stepdad, Dan, who she blames in the first place. But as Emma gets to know Caleb, someone she'd normally stay the hell away from, she finds someone who can relate to her, and maybe life doesn't have to be so empty anymore.

I'll be frank here - I honestly wasn't expecting to really like this book. Not after things I read and heard about it. So my advice to you guys is, don't judge a book by its reviews. I ended up loving this so much, even though I don't read a lot of YA contemporaries. Heartbeat is separate from the high school fluff that takes up a major part of this genre, and I really hope readers give this a chance.

Initially, it was hard reading from Emma's point of view, because she's just so full of hate. It  almost made my head hurt. But as the novel progressed, I found myself really empathizing with her. I understood her, and I felt her pain. I felt her anger at Dan and her uncertainty about her feelings for Caleb. Emma's going through something none of us have experienced, and the fact that I could still empathize with her shows how skillfully Elizabeth Scott created her persona. Emma's growth as a person throughout the book is admirable, and I loved that she's not afraid to admit when she's wrong. Her character is flawed, of course, but it's raw and honest, which is mostly why I loved this book so much.

Caleb is another complex and incredible character. He's a perfect example of 'what you see on the surface isn't what's on the inside.' On the outside, Caleb is a former druggie and car thief. He's driven his father's car into a lake, and had no regrets. He's the kind of bad boy most people would stay away from. But when his path crosses Emma's a few times at the hospital and they get to talk, Emma finds out that there's a lot more to Caleb than she originally assumed. Caleb is as broken as she is, and my heart went out to him so much when I heard his story. He's strong despite everything he's been through, and he doesn't let anything bring him down. I really admired his resilience and perseverance, and the fact that he's always so supportive of Emma.

I know a lot of people who've read this are shocked at Emma's attitude towards her stepfather and her unborn baby brother, but I get it. Of course she has a right to hate them because in her mind, they're to blame for the death of her mother. There was quite a lot of repetition about Emma hating that Dan didn't consult her before making a decision. I got it the first couple of times! But Emma kept driving her point home and maybe that's because it's all she had to say to Dan, someone she once loved and now missed? Emma does come around though, and she sees a different side of things. Though she's really close-minded in the beginning, it's amazing to see how much she changes by the end.

The writing in this book is really beautiful, and after this I want to go ahead and read all of Scott's books. I've read one of them previously, but it's very different compared to this. We get to see exactly what's in Emma's head, and the honesty in the writing makes me believe in her as a person and feel like I'm reading her pure, unfiltered thoughts. There's so much in this that really makes you think, and I love books like that. One little passage in particular was something that really stayed with me. Keep in mind, this is from the eARC, so there may be changes in the final version - 


I sit next to Caleb, waiting and thinking about what life really is. About how it has its own will. How it shows you things that rip you open, tear your world apart. How it takes you places you never thought you’d be. Shows you things you never knew you wanted to see. Brings you painand joy.
Where will it take me now?
I read that around three times over. I've never experienced something as heartbreaking and terrifying as Emma has, and the curveballs that life keeps throwing at her seem shocking to me. The fact that she's still there and she's still going on with her life (though I'll admit her spirit has definitely faded) astonishes me. Emma and Caleb both seem so real to me, and I loved reading their story. The ending was perfect, and I'm glad Scott wanted it that way. I know this review has been pretty long, but I can't help it. Heartbeat really surprised me, in an undeniably good way. This is the kind of book anyone can read, no matter what their age or gender or preferences, and I really urge them to.

*Thank you to Harlequin TEEN for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 5/5

2 comments:

  1. I don't really read contemporary romance either so I'm really glad you like this one. I'm curious to read about it because I hate the high school fluff, and I'm curious to read about a situation like this. I think I would be extremely angry too if I was Emma, so I'm definitely wanting this one. Thanks for the review!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

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  2. Wow, Heartbeat sounds pretty amazing! I've been wanting to read Elizabeth Scott's novels for some time but never really got around to it. Perhaps this would be a good one to start with. Awesome review, Richa!

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