Review: Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Heartbeat
Title: Heartbeat
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Date of Publication: January 28, 2014

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?

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Review

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Harlequin Teen, Edelweiss, NetGalley and Kismet BT for the review copy! This in no way affected my views of the novel.

I didn't really plan on reading Heartbeat the day I read it. Or should I say the night-dawn-morning I read it? I didn't even know the plot. I just thought I was due for a review and so I started reading it because I couldn't sleep. And then I ended up losing even more sleep over it because it grabbed me right from the start and demanded finishing.

I think what got me by page one was the rawness in Emma's voice. She's hurt, she's mourning and most of all, she's angry. And she knows her anger might have been clouding her judgment and that she's failing school because she doesn't care anymore but that's how it goes. Extreme emotions numb you. Everything just eats you up whole and you feel a lot but you also don't know how to feel and what you feel. The narrative was intense and it never shied away from painting Emma as a jerk and it never put on brakes when talking about what Emma thinks and feels. She hates her stepfather and she can't accept her baby brother and we know all about it. And even though Emma keeps on acting like a jerk, you can't help but love her even more because she's real. She is in so much pain and all you want is to comfort her but you know you can't do anything and just read about all her thoughts and ordeals and cry with her. I sure did. So on that front, I think Elizabeth Scott has crafted such a rich character in Emma with her astounding realness and rawness.

From a mile away, you could predict that Emma and Caleb will be a thing. And while I initially rolled my eyes and said "of course it would be the bad boy who will mend her", I never did that again. Because I was wrong. Because Caleb didn't mend her. He was only there for her as a soundboard, a confidante. She was still the one responsible for all her realizations and for trying to foster a relationship with her stepfather after everything. Caleb wasn't a knight-in-shining-armor and on the contrary, I think Emma ended up affecting him more than he did. Caleb was miserable and I was so sad because of his situation. His parents, just I don't even want to think about it.

While I generally don't think relationships or love that stemmed from shared grief or depression would last and I usually don't approve, I didn't care at all that that's what Emma and Caleb had. Because when someone moves on and gets out of his/her grief, what happens to the one left behind? The one who can't move past the past or is moving along slower? I don't believe that love built upon misery and grief is all that strong in the long-run and maybe Emma and Caleb's isn't forever but I didn't mind at all. I was just so happy that they were there for each other at that time and that they both grew and changed and they made each other's lives a bit better just by being there for each other. In their grief, that's what they need the most. Someone who understands and someone who sees you and sees it as it is. One who doesn't sugarcoat and just gets you. For that, I was fully behind on Emma and Caleb.

And geez, who wouldn't love wounded and broken Caleb? This novel made me realize I have a double standard. I love broken-bad-boys in YA but I absolutely hate them in NA. Caleb was so cute and adorable when he blushes and so chivalrous when he didn't take advantage of Emma even if she came onto him. Then when he shares about his sister Minnie, I couldn't stop the tears from flowing. Emma's even lucky to have Dan and Olivia (her best friend) but Caleb? He's all alone. His parents see him as the one who killed her sister. How can you deal with that?

Heartbeat is all about the emotional turmoil Emma was going through after her mother's death and having to see her still everyday because her stepfather decided to save the baby she was carrying. But beyond that, it focused on Emma as a character, as if she's a real person. I think the best characters are those that feel like a person and Emma is definitely one on my list. Looking back, Heartbeat could easily have been just a four-star read to me because grief isn't at all new a theme. But I think Emma rose above many and that garnered it five stars and an amazing from me.

Gloriously gutting and wrenching, Heartbeat will twist your insides and wring out your tear ducts. As my first novel from Elizabeth Scott, it made sure I will be getting my hands on everything she wrote and will write. Pre-order it now! Consider it your gift to yourself this holiday season.

About Elizabeth Scott

ELIZABETH SCOTT grew up in a town so small it didn’t even have a post office, though it did boast an impressive cattle population. She’s sold hardware and panty hose and had a memorable three-day stint in the dot-com industry, where she learned that she really didn’t want a career burning CDs. She lives just outside Washington, D.C., with her husband, and firmly believes you can never own too many books.

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