My Heartbeat

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As she tries to understand the closeness between her older brother and his best friend, fourteen-year-old Ellen finds her relationship with each of them changing.

As she tries to understand the closeness between her older brother and his best friend, fourteen-year-old Ellen finds her relationship with each of them changing.

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My Heartbeat

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As she tries to understand the closeness between her older brother and his best friend, fourteen-year-old Ellen finds her relationship with each of them changing.

As she tries to understand the closeness between her older brother and his best friend, fourteen-year-old Ellen finds her relationship with each of them changing.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this story of 14-year-old Ellen's attraction to her brother's best friend, complexities more far-reaching than just sexual concerns come to the fore, when Ellen asks the two about the nature of their relationship. In PW's Best Books citation, we called it "a thoughtful approach to the many confusing signals that accompany awakening sexuality." Ages 14-up. (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Fourteen-year-old Ellen has always been "totally madly in love" with her older brother Link's best friend, James. Now she is beginning to realize that Link and James may be in love with each other. It isn't a physical relationship; Link insists he's not gay, though James is bisexual. Matters come to a head when Ellen asks if they are a couple, and they quarrel with each other. Link slams out of the room, refuses to speak to Link, and starts a relationship with a girl. James and Ellen begin a relationship of their own, which gradually becomes a sexual relationship, and with James' encouragement Ellen discovers her talent for drawing. Meanwhile, Ellen struggles to understand her brilliant, difficult, deeply confused brother. He avoids talking about any of his issues, but a crisis develops when he hands in all his exam papers blank, and reveals that he has dropped out of a math program for gifted students to study the piano instead. Link excels in "the art of evasive language and behavior," but he and their parents must learn what Ellen is trying to practice, the art of exploring and articulating what is in their hearts. The cover illustration, a Keith Haring-like drawing of two linked figures with a third standing with outstretched arms between them and a heart over their heads, is particularly apt for this tale of shifting relationships between an offbeat threesome. Set in the private school world of Manhattan, the controversial issues raised here about sex and sexual identity makes this more appropriate for sophisticated older teens, though there is nothing explicit. Freymann-Weyr, the acclaimed author of When I Was Older, has produced a beautifully crafted and often witty tale ofemotional discovery and self-discovery, as Ellen struggles to understand the "unwritten social laws" that govern the behavior of those around her. Recommended for senior high school students. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick
Children's Literature
This coming of age novel features an unusual love triangle theme. When Ellen starts private high school, she becomes aware that her older brother, Link, and his friend James may be in a gay relationship. Ironically, Ellen is in love with James herself but also idolizes her brother. Deemed a social misfit at her old school because she didn't establish friendships, Ellen attempts "normality" for her parents' sake. At her new school she comes to terms with the realization that Link's and James's "friendship" may be more than that. James understands he "may" be gay; Link does not. With his father's pressure, Link breaks off the long-term friendship with James but Ellen picks it up. As she edges toward a sexual relationship with James, she is aware that Link is falling apart mentally. When Link fails to complete his school exams the family situation changes. Freymann-Weyr captures the essence of coming of age and sexual awareness in this novel. Her straightforward manner on a touchy subject is impressive and has much to offer straight and gay teens. Shortfalls may be the oversights of adult characters and Ellen's nature to "play with fire" in her desire to be loved by James. 2002, Houghton Mifflin,
— Nancy Garhan Attebury
For as long as she can remember, Ellen's fourteen-year-old brother, Link, has been friends with James. Their intense bond revolves around watching foreign films, reading complicated novels, and attending concerts. Ellen wants to hang out with Link and James more than with anyone else, except when they are not getting along. At those times, Link reverts to character, becoming silent, whereas James uses humor and sarcasm to try to bridge the divide. Ellen loves her brother, but she has been in love with James for years. With his impossibly good looks and his passion for everything, Ellen finds herself irresistibly drawn to him. It is not until a girl at school asks if Link and James are a couple that Ellen begins her campaign to learn who her brother really is. As she questions them both, Link refuses to talk about it, and James realizes that he does not want to be with someone who will not acknowledge their relationship. Ellen's closeness with James intensifies after his break from Link, and the unique triangle of friendship shifts to incorporate new relationships and a greater understanding of the limits of love. This intelligent look at the ambiguity of sexuality and familial relationships genuinely portrays Link's struggle with his feelings of love for James and his own father's view of homosexuality. Beyond its discussion of sexuality, this novel explores issues of self-discovery and intimacy in a sensitive manner. Free of cliché and any hidden agenda, it will appeal to readers looking for something a bit different from the traditional love story. (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; ).,
— Heather Hepler
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Garrett Freymann-Weyr's novel (Houghton, 2002) about a teen's maturing understanding of friends, family, and self is brought to vivid life in Christy Carlson Romano's fast-paced reading. Fourteen-year-old Ellen has known James most of her life, as he is her older brother Lincoln's long-term best friend. Just as she realizes that she has developed a romantic crush on James, he and Linc appear to have a significant falling out. The revelation that James is gay not only plays havoc with Ellen's romantic designs-although they do manage to consummate their youthful admiration for each other with honestly drawn sexual encounters-but pits Linc into a silent war against his former bosom buddy. Ellen and her circle are moneyed New Yorkers, but their story is relevant and resonant beyond culture and class. How friendships pause and then restart, how teens let themselves peek a little at a time into their own and their families' souls are among the truths eloquently played out here, with humor as well as angst. Romano's youthful tenor fits Ellen just right, making this a bit like listening to a young friend share her observations and experiences.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this lovely and passionate story, told in the first-person present, the questions of love are repeated over, under, around, and beneath: how do parents love their children? How do friends care for one another? What do love and sex have to do with each other? Ellen is 14, and the two most important people in her life are her older brother Link, a high-school senior, and his best friend James. In a world of privilege, private schools, Manhattan locales, and summers in Maine, Ellen wrestles with her deep love for her brother and the intensity of her feelings for his best friend. Are James and Link a couple? Ellen wrestles with that, too, with what it might mean to be gay. When Link begins dating a girl, James and Ellen try to find what they are to each other without Link, Ellen sees her brother's talents, her parents' differing desires but very real concerns, and James's complex emotional life as puzzles to be solved with intensity and with desire. "A mind with its own heartbeat" is the favorite phrase of Link and Ellen's dad, and Ellen's mind beats across the tangle of feelings of all these beguiling, intelligent, and complicated folk. Breathtaking in the purity of its emotions and in its refusal to pigeonhole any of its characters, it will engage teen readers to the very last page.
From the Publisher
"Narrator Ellen learns about love, family and 'society's unwritten rules' in this sophisticated but gentle novel." —Publishers Weekly, Starred

"A tightly constructed novel about love, family, and the ambiguities of sexual identity." —School Library Journal, Starred

"Freyman-Weyr writes an astonishing combination of delicacy and clarity of the genuine complexity of family (and all) relationships." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Starred

"Freymann-Weyr sets up a riveting love triangle. As in the author's first novel, When I Was Older, one of the standout qualities is the protagonist's fresh, vital tone." —Horn Book, Starred

"The fast, clipped dialog will sweep teens into the story, as will Ellen’s immediate first-person, present-tense narrative, 'curious, careful, kind, and intense.' The family dynamics are just as compelling as the love and friendship drama, especially Ellen’s bewilderment about the unwritten laws that can make people strangers even within the family they love." —Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

" will engage teen readers to the very last page." —Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807215999
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/1/2004
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Age range: 12 years

Meet the Author

Garret Freymann-Weyr is the author of My Heartbeat, a Printz Honor book, as well as Stay with Me, The Kings Are all Here, and When I Was Older. She lives in North Carolina.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 35 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2007

    Outstanding characters

    The best thing about this book had to be the characters. I was in love with every single one of them. James especially, but I adored Ellen and Link as well. I read this book in about three hours, but afterwards I was still thinking about James and Link, wanting to be friends with them. The only reason this book didn't get a five? I was disappointed with the ending. I'm not a big fan of this new tendancy to leave the reader with an 'open ending' where not much is resolved and you're left with more questions and answers. But, the characters were so fantastically well-written that I'd consider reading this book again and recommending it to customers (I'm a bookseller in Southern California).

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2007

    Are you kidding?

    (I'm a senior in college and had to read this book for a 'young adult lit' class.) The interactions between the characters of this book are ridiculous. The relationship between James and Ellen was way too mature for a 14 year old girl and a high school senior. James and Link are written more like restless middle age men than 18 year old boys trying to pick out colleges. And the quirky dialogues between Ellen, Link and their parents are ridiculous. What teenager sits and talks/analyzes their feelings with their parents? The relationship between Link and James was left unresolved, and seemingly on purpose for fear of upsetting the reader who really didn't want them to end up together, because, well, what would happen to poor Ellen? It was just a mess. If the characters were 10 years older it would have been tolerable.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2003

    A Must-Read

    I was at the local library and I came across this novel...after reading the summary I was rather enticed, and took it home to read. I read that book from cover to cover, and didn't put it down once. The relationships between the characters, between Ellen and her father, between her and Link, between her and James...The relationship between Link and're emotionally attached to each character, in one way or the other. I am a heterosexual 16 year old girl who hasn't been exposed to the gay community to a great extent, but I believe this book helped to bridge the gap between gay and straight relationships. The only disappointing part of the book was the end...I wanted more.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 14, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    My Heartbeat

    The novel My Heartbeat by Garret Freyman-Weyr is set in Manhattan, New York. This novel is a heart breaking and loving story about three high school students in a complicated love triangle that need to figure out what they truly want in life. It is told by a fourteen year old freshman girl in high school named Ellen. Her brother¿s name is Link and her brother¿s best friend is named James. Link and James are seniors in high school and are trying to decide which college to go to. Ellen is ¿totally madly in love¿ with James. Ellen is the type of girl that hangs out with her brother and has a very close bond with Link. Always being around Link means always being around James since James and Link are basically attached at the hip. During the beginning of her freshman year in high school, many girls tell Ellen how lucky she is to know the two boys. Ellen is a shy girl and loves to read. One day, she got a wake up call by someone asking if James and Link were a couple. She decides to confront the two friends about the question of whether or not they were gay. Both of the boys give different answers which strikes an interesting toll on their friendship. James says that it is okay to be called a couple but Link says that they are absolutely not a couple. James and Link get in a fight at this point but all Ellen wants to know are some definite answers and the truth.<BR/> The remaining months of their year of high school are very different and surprising for the reader. When Link begins dating a girl named Polly, the views of James and Link change. James begins to view Link differently yet still knows exactly what is going through his head. This change does not stop Ellen from hanging out with James which causes James to question his views of Ellen. Ellen begins hanging out with James alone instead of with Link. James is not the most well behaved student so Ellen begins breaking many rules just so that she can be with her love, James. Along with hanging out with James, Ellen begins researching on gays and lesbians. She finds out a lot of different statistics and begins to wonder what her parents would think if they knew Link could have been gay.<BR/> This novel shows the true trials of high school as well as pressures from different types of people. It is an easy read and a definite page turner. Garret Freyman-Weyr has translated her novel into at least four different languages which is somewhat ironic since one of James¿s and Link¿s favorite past-times is watching foreign films with subtitles. This novel was written for students from age fourteen to seventeen. My Heartbeat received the Printz Honor for excellence in Young Adult novels. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone and it is very fast paced. I am sure that a lot of teenage girls can relate to a lot of different actions by Ellen in this novel.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2003

    Great Book

    I am a sophomore in college and I work at our University's Library. I was shelving books and came across 'My Heartbeat'. For some reason it stood out and I pulled it out of the shelf and began reading it. I was pulled into this book and every free second I had I was reading. Even after I finished it I wanted to start reading it all over again. It is a very enjoyable book and I love how the author wrote the book from Ellen's point of view. I would recommend this book to all of my friends!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2013

    i lovedddddddd loved loved ! this book

    i lovedddddddd loved loved ! this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2012


    Great book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2012

    Very good book!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2011

    So weird... In a good way

    When I read this book I was confused on the story plot, but it was worth the read! Some parts drag more than it should, but once it's over the good parts keep coming. I felt so drawn to this book and loved it fully. READ IT!!

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  • Posted January 3, 2011

    Absolute waste of money.

    I feel like this book was so obvious. The entire book reads like a book meant for 4 year olds, despite the subject matter definitely not being meant for that age. I have no prejudice or anything like that; I'm really open-minded, but this book just seemed like it was written poorly. I wouldn't read another book from this author based on this work.

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  • Posted December 13, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Pretty good

    This book was a quick read. I really enjoyed the story line. As well as the characters names and personalities. It's been a few months since I've read this, so I can't remember too much about it. However, as I was reading I fell in love with a quote that was in the book--<BR/><BR/>"Sometimes we are a family made up of people who know each other, but more and more often, we are strangers who occasionally realize we are still living together."<BR/><BR/>I recommend this for teenage readers looking for something to read through quickly.

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  • Posted October 18, 2008

    My Heartbeat

    My Heartbeat takes place in Manhattan and covers Ellen, a fourteen year old girl¿s, journey through her first year of high school at Cedar Hill. This romance novel adds new twists to a story of love and finding yourself. <BR/>Ellen has always loved her brother, Link, and his best friend, James. The pair tease her because she is totally madly in love with James. When Ellen starts school at Cedar Hill the three of them become great friends, but when Ellen questions Link and James sexuality their friendship is on the rocks. Ellen is the only thing that holds the group together. Soon, James starts to feel the same way Ellen does about him. A challenging love triangle is formed between Ellen, Link, and James. The three must choose between family, friends, and lovers.<BR/>Ellen is confused as she comes into high school at Cedar Hill. She gets lost in kissing, loving, drawing, and learning about what being gay really means.<BR/>James is a gorgeous senior. He is loved by most of girls on the Cedar Hill campus. James has tested his sexuality with guys, but never with girls.<BR/> Link knows of James experience with guys, and is very much in love with James. Link, though, is not ready to admit he may be gay. He is also a senior at Cedar Hill.<BR/>These main characters are explained with fantastic detail that I cannot capture in this book review. Garret Freymann-Weyr makes you picture each charter and understand their individual personalities. The realism of this book is brought on mostly by his devotion to details of his characters.<BR/>A person can learn a lot about finding yourself and falling in love form this book and its characters. Young adults would be the most common group who would enjoy this book. It deals with a lot of high school problems teenagers encounter everyday. The book addresses new ideas that I have previously been un knowing about, like homosexuality. It isn¿t just the common boy vs. girl relationship problem. It deals with boy vs. boy relationships and younger girl vs. older boy relationships. My Heartbeat really opened up my eyes to the homosexual I taught me a lot about finding myself and understanding myself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2008

    i love this book

    Omg this book is so great. I read it when I was fourteen, now i'm eighteen and am still in love with it. I was in barnes and noble roaming the aisles for something to read and found the book and had to buy it on the spot. The ending made me cry both. Omg I would totally recommend everyone to read it (and i do mean everyone).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2007

    Over and Over

    I've gone through more than my fair share of books and I'm still amazed that a year later, I still love this book more than any other I've encountered. I bought this book only because nothing else looked even remotely interesting, and was prepared to hate it immediately. There aren't words to explain how this book affected me. I'm not sure what exactly it was that pulled me so deeply into the story, but I believe the writting style had something to do with it. On every page was something I loved more about the authors words. This is the only book I have read over and over.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2007

    Its okay!!!

    Some of the relationships were alittle mature for the age. But it was a good book. Also its a little strung out. its a short book but it seemed long.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2006

    Madison :)

    I honestly think this book is amazing. With all the dilemmas and events going on it's hard to put it down. I was sooo lucky to get this book on sale for $5. I have people that waited for about a month to read this book and they all loved it. 'My Heartbeat' has an awesome mix of love, confusion, humour, sadness, and suspense. I definately reccomend it. :)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2006

    What started my passion for reading.

    My Heartbeat was actually the first book I considered my favorites. This book started my passion for reading and finding other favorites. After 3 years, this book is still on the very top of my favorites.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2006


    A girl named Ellen is confused about her brother (Link) and his friend (James). What can be so confusing about her brother and his friend? Well Ellen is barely a freshman in high school, while Link and James are both seniors. Ellen is a very shy and timid person who doesn¿t talk much and happens to be in love with James. As time goes by, random girls begin to question her about her Link and James. ¿Are they a couple?¿ was what they would ask. Ellen never thought about that until that day. She began to wonder and decided to ask her mother. Her mom tells her opinions about this but tells Ellen that it¿s best if she asked her brother instead of her. Ellen asks Link and James and only one of them gives her a straight answer. James is gay but Link doesn¿t know if he is. This confuses Link and he gets angry. A lot of drama happens ¿ read the book to find out what happens and see what happens to their relationship. I recommend this book to people that are confused about their sexuality or don¿t fit in because their gay or lesbian.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2006


    This book was truly amazing. I couldn't put it down, and I love reading it now and then, just because it's so well written. The themes covered in the book are quite controversial, but the tale is timeless!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2005

    Very Real

    Garret Freymann in my opinion, is a very detailed and amazing writer. I couldn't put this book down, it was so real. I had never thought about these topics before, but they seemed to come alive from the pages. I strongly recommend this book, for it is beautifully crafted.

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