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Hummingbird Heart

Hummingbird Heart

5.0 4
by Robin Stevenson

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Sixteen-year-old Dylan has never met her father. She knows that her parents were just teenagers themselves when she was born, but her mother doesn't like to talk about the past, and her father, Mark, has never responded to Dylan's attempts to contact him. As far as Dylan is concerned, her family is made up of her mother, Amanda; her recently adopted younger sister,


Sixteen-year-old Dylan has never met her father. She knows that her parents were just teenagers themselves when she was born, but her mother doesn't like to talk about the past, and her father, Mark, has never responded to Dylan's attempts to contact him. As far as Dylan is concerned, her family is made up of her mother, Amanda; her recently adopted younger sister, Karma; and maybe even her best friend, Toni. And then, out of the blue, a phone call: Mark will be in town for a few days and he wants to meet her. Amanda is clearly upset, but Dylan can't help being excited at the possibility of finally getting to know her father. But when she finds out why he has come—and what he wants from her—the answers fill her with still more questions. What makes someone family? And why has her mother been lying to her all these years?

Editorial Reviews

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"A beautifully told story...Dylan is not a perfect character, which makes her easily relatable for any teenager...Recommended for anyone who likes a good dramatic coming of age story."
"The tension this creates between Dylan and her mother is brutal and realistic. Like many teens, Dylan has found emotional safety in keeping distant from others, judging before she can be judged. As Dylan comes out of her shell, she realizes her own power and responsibility in setting the terms of her relationships...Teens who were intrigued with the family drama in Sara Zarr's How to Save a Life (2011) or Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper (2004) will find similarly thought-provoking issues here."
CM Magazine
"A well-written exploration of complex family relationships...Hummingbird Heart will appeal to teenagers who like realistic drama, and the novel may be useful to parents or teachers who want to start a discussion about teenage sex, pregnancy or drug use."
A Gemini's Gems blog
"A well-written story about a teenager being forced to confront questions about her past, her family, her relationships and her very identity. Dylan is a well-developed, realistic character and teens will be able to relate to her dilemma. Highly recommended."
Southwest Ohio and Neighboring Libraries (SWON)
"Stevenson captures the true spirit of Dylan's anger toward both her mother and her father, and the situation in which both parents have placed her...While the issues breeched in this novel are complex and deep, Hummingbird Heart remains an enjoyable read."
CanLit for Little Canadians blog
"Stevenson takes Hummingbird Heart from just a mirror of a young girl's attempt to understand others as well as herself to a piece of artwork, extensive and colourful, deep and enduring, of choices, wonderful or humiliating, like a tattoo, hummingbird or otherwise."
Tri State YA Book Review Committee
"A very valuable book because of the author's honesty in portraying the teen dynamics with friends and families...Highly recommended for inclusion in any high school or public library collection."
VOYA - Kristi Sadowski
Dylan has never met her father; he has never wanted anything to do with her. When he calls shortly after her sixteenth birthday and wants to meet her, Dylan has one decision after another to make. But her father's reappearance is not quite the reunion for which she was hoping. It turns out that his four-year-old daughter has cancer, and he and his wife want Dylan to be a bone marrow donor. Even worse, she learns that her mother never told her father when Dylan was born—she had been lying for years. Hummingbird Heart is fast-paced and sure to keep readers interested once they pick up this book. The adult role models in this book are lacking—smoking pot, getting drunk, and lying on a regular basis. Dylan's personal life is a shambles, and she makes some pretty bad decisions with her friends, family, and first boyfriend. This makes her a bit of an unsympathetic character. The consequences she faces for these decisions are not representative of her actions; however, this is a perfect book for discussion and the topic will appeal to teen readers. Reviewer: Kristi Sadowski
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Dylan, 16, has tried to reach out to the father she never met for eight years-or so she thought. When he reaches out to her for a serious favor, her life as she knew it falls into a tailspin. She discovers that her mother never sent annual photos to him as she believed, causing Dylan to question what else her mother has lied about, and her father reveals she has a four-year-old half sister who is dying of cancer. At the same time, Dylan is forced to reevaluate her relationship with her best friend, Toni, who may be pregnant, and decide how far she'll go with Jax, an attractive boy with a shady reputation. The drama in environmentally conscious Dylan's life is paralleled to global disaster. Vividly descriptive language enriches the story—air "full of the thick sour smell of unsaid things" and "corrosive fear." A raw and honest tone runs through the novel; when deciding whether or not to get tested as a bone-marrow match for her ailing half sister, Dylan pauses to wonder if she'd get to see her father more if Casey did die. The book can be described as a blending of Leslie Connor's Waiting for Normal (HarperCollins, 2008) and Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper (Atria, 2004). Teens will relate to the themes of family, love, trust, and moral obligation. Discussion of abortion, sex, teen pregnancy, alcoholism, underage drinking, and smoking marijuana are included, and under the surface this page-turner invites readers to reflect on decision-making and appreciate the fact that actions have deep consequences—Nicole Knott, Watertown High School, CT
Children's Literature - Annie Laura Smith
Through the actions of Dylan Jarvis's dysfunctional family, the story addresses the dynamics of family, love, and responsibility. Sixteen-year-old Dylan seeks to make contact with her father, Mark Wheatcroft (an Ontario lawyer), whom she has never met. She must deal with her feelings of abandonment, and the sense that she feels her mother, Amanda, has been lying about her father. When he finally does contact her, it is for a personal need for his new family. How can she resolve her feelings when the only contact from her father is for his ?need' and not from his ?love'? The dysfunctional relationships are shown in a realistic tone by the author. The story also provides teaching moments about teenage sex, pregnancy, abortion, and alcohol and drug use. The reader follows Dylan as she tries to piece together her heritage and her real identity through the interactions with her mother, father, and his new family. Reviewer: Annie Laura Smith

Product Details

Orca Book Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.55(w) x 8.18(h) x 0.69(d)
HL560L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Mark pulled out his phone. "Her name's Casey. She's almost four." He looked at the image on the screen for a long moment, his mouth twisted into a crooked smile. "Your half sister."

    I took the phone from him and stared at the photo. A round-faced girl, smiling, with short dark hair and big eyes. My stomach was full of something much squirmier than butterflies, and my throat was getting all tight.

    "Must be hard to be away from her," Mom said.

    "It is," Mark said. His voice sounded funny, like he really meant it. Like he could hardly stand to be away from his precious little girl.

    I sucked on my bottom lip. He'd been away from me, his other daughter, for my whole life and he hadn't cared at all.

Meet the Author

Robin Stevenson is the author of twenty books for kids and teens. Her novels include The World Without Us and The Summer We Saved the Bees, as well as the Silver Birch Award-winner Record Breaker, and the Governor General's Award finalist, A Thousand Shades of Blue. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia. For more information, visit www.robinstevenson.com.

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Hummingbird Heart 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*goes with Shane*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Grins. "So this light... that could be a distress signal. Its different, what could be making it?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"I'm not sure. It looks as if it's being reflected off of something, though." Niko said. Fang grew silent, looking at where the light had come from.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My nook is about to die but my Kik....we can rp on that if you want....is MyBrutalRomance13