Since her mother's sudden death, Emma has existed in a fog of grief, unable to let go, unable to move forwardbecause her mother is, in a way, still there. She's being kept alive on machines for the sake of the baby growing inside her.
Estranged from her stepfather and letting go of things that no longer seem importantgrades, crushes, college plansEmma has only her best friend to remind her to breathe. Until she meets a boy with a bad reputation who sparks something in herCaleb Harrison, whose anger and loss might just match Emma's own. Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after deathand maybe, for love?
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Age Range:||14 Years|
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When I open them, Mom's stomach is stretched out and still.
"Emma, are you ready to go?" Dan says as he comes into the room, and I look up at him and nod.
"Did you two have a nice chat?" he says, bending over to kiss Mom.
I stare at him.
He must feel it because he straightens up, clearing his throat, and pats Mom's stomach. "Look how big he's getting. Lisa, he's growing so much."
Mom doesn't say anything, not even to that.
She's dead. Machines are keeping her alive. They breathe for her. They feed her. They regulate her whole body.
My mother is dead, but Dan is keeping her alive because of the baby.
* * *
Dan and I don't talk on the ride home. As soon as I'm inside the house I head straight up to my room, and I lock the door.
I never used to have a lock, but then, I used to have Mom. I used to think that Dan cared about what I thought. What I wanted. What Mom would have wanted. This way, all the talks he used to try to have, right after Mom first died, can't happen. Or at least, he can talk, but I don't have to see him and can put on music or headphones or even fingers in my ears to shut him out. Just like he shut me out.
I don't have one of those wussy little turn-and-click locks. I have an actual lock, a bar with a padlock that I snap shut.
Closing out the world.
I put it in myself the day Dan told me what he was going to do to Mom. I walked out of the hospital, went to the hardware store and came home and put in the lock. My mother taught me how to do that. She believed women should know how to fix things. I'd seen her fix a broken toilet and watched her change the element in our hot water heater. She installed new locks on our doors when I was seven, after Olivia's family got robbed.
I go over to my window and open it. On the roof, Olivia grins at me through her blond hair and then comes over and pushes herself inside.
"How did you know I was out there?"
"I saw your hair when we came in. Also, your car down the road. Thanks for not parking here."
"It makes things easier," she says. "And clearly, I need a wig. Oooh, I could get a bunch. Red hair, blue hair-"
"That wouldn't stand out at all."
She sticks her tongue out at me. "I'd get other ones too. Brown hair, black hair. I could be a spy, don't you think?"
"Spies have to use computers, Olivia."
"No, they don't. They go on missions. They have tech people do the computer stuff for them."
"Someone's been watching Covert Ops."
"Like you don't watch it too. You know you love it. You and your mom both think Sebastian is " She trails off.
"Sebastian is cute," I say, and try not to think about how Mom and I used to watch the show together. "But he's also fictional, plus even spies on TV have to use earpieces and stuff-would you be willing to do that?"
"For Sebastian I would," she says, grinning, and then flops on my bed. "But I really wish I could be an old-fashioned spy. Like back when they had to write coded messages in invisible ink and speak a dozen languages."
"That sounds more like you," I say, and sit down next to her. "I-I saw the baby move today."
"Emma," she says, squeezing my hand, "why do you even go to the hospital?"
"Because I can see her. Because I want at least one person to be there for Mom and not for the baby."
"Dan wants the baby. You know it, I know it. If Mom was alive " I stare at my dresser, at the photo of Mom and me. It was taken in Vermont when we went skiing. Mom is smiling and has one arm around me, holding me tight. It was the last vacation we took together, just her and me. She was thirty-five. I was ten.
She met Dan two weeks after we got back from Vermont. I was nice to him when I met him because he actually asked where I wanted to go to dinner when Mom suggested the three of us go out. I thought he was kind.
I also thought he loved Mom.
"Hey," Olivia says, and I look at her.
"She'd love you for being there," she says. "She does love you for being there. I know it."
I hug her, and Olivia hugs me back.
Dan knocks on my door. "Emma, you want some pizza? I made triple cheese."
Of course he did. Dan doesn't order food. He makes it. "The perfect man," Mom used to say. "He can cook, he makes the bed and he remembers to put the toilet seat down." Then she'd laugh and kiss him.
She loved him so much. "I'm not hungr y," I say.
"I'll leave it by the door," he says with a sigh. "Olivia, do you want me to leave you a slice too?" Olivia looks at me. I shrug.
"Okay," Olivia says, and Dan says, "Thanks for coming today, Emma." Like he does every day. Like I'm doing it for him. Like I'm somehow in this with him.
I unbolt the door after five minutes. When I first started locking myself in, Dan would hang around and try to talk to me when I came out. I used to like how hard he tried, but I sure don't now. Not after what he's done to Mom. Now I wait until I'm sure he's gone.
Olivia eats most of the pizza and then says she has to get home to make sure her parents eat.
"Wish me luck," she says. "Prying their handheld what-evers away from them for longer than thirty seconds makes them both go into withdrawal. See you tomorrow?"
"Yeah. You don't have to go out on the roof to leave, you know."
"I know," she says. "But if I use the front door or try to go out any other way, I'll see Dan. And I know he'll ask me about you. He did the last time I left that way. I think he- well, I think he's worried about you, you know?"
"Why? Because my mother is dead and he's kept her body alive so he can try to save his precious son? Because I have to see her lying there-" I break off and open the window for Olivia.
Olivia hugs me again and then leaves. After she does, I close my window and get into bed. It's early, but I don't care. In bed, I can look at my ceiling. It's yellow and the color is swirled around so there are a million patterns and shapes to get lost in. Mom painted it last year even though the doctor didn't want her "exerting" herself because she'd just had a blood clot taken out of her leg.
"Think about this instead of that boy," she'd said when I came in and lay down on the bed to look at it.
"I can't," I'd said. "Anthony broke my heart."
"I know," she'd said, lying down next to me. "But one day he won't matter."
"He said I was lovely." I'd looked up at the ceiling.
"They all say something like that," she'd told me. "Trust the one who takes his time saying it."
"Dan said he was falling in love with you on your second date."
"Dan's different," she'd said. "He's older, for one thing. And so am I. It's you won't believe me, but one day Anthony will just be a memory and it won't hurt when you see him at all, I promise."
She was right. I wish I'd told her that. I could have. Anthony was nothing to me ages before she died.
I wish I could tell Mom something, anything, and have her really hear it.
"I miss you," I whisper, and listen to Dan moving around downstairs. If I close my eyes, I can pretend I hear Mom, that this is just another night.
That she's still here.
* * *
Dan drives me to school in the morning. He has done this since he and Mom got married, and I used to like it although I did start to ride with Olivia when she got her license.
That stopped when Mom died. I wanted Dan to remember I was around. I wanted him to remember Mom.
Like, Mom worried about my grades. Not that they weren't good enough, but that I was working too hard. Dan told her that in order to grow up I had to be allowed to make my own choices.
Oh yes, Dan and his choices.
We drive to school in silence. At seventeen, I'm old enough to get my license, but the waiting list to get into any of the driver's ed classes within half an hour of the house stretches out for months. I'd planned to put my name on a list last year but never got around to it.
Last year, before everything happened, Dan promised that over the summer he'd teach me how to drive and then I could just go get my license.
I don't want him teaching me to drive now. What if something happens? What if I get hurt? If my body stops working, my brain stops functioning? Would he have machines keep me alive in case his son might one day need something? A lung, a kidney, bone marrow?
But I do ride in the car with him to school. I do it because it means he will have to pick me up afterward. That he will have to see me, that he will take me to see Mom. He works at home, so he can do that.
Or at least, he used to work at home. I don't know if he still does, or if all the database consulting he did stopped when Mom did. Lately, he hasn't mentioned any two-hour phone calls to talk someone through using a new feature he's built.
But then, I haven't asked. I don't want to talk to him.
He was going to stay home with the baby, and Mom was going to go back to work. That was their plan. She was an assistant manager at BT&T bank. They sent flowers when she died. They didn't send anything for the baby. Maybe they didn't know what to do about it, but maybe they heard about what Dan's doing and think he's keeping a dead woman alive so he can get what he wants.
If they do, I love them for that. I mean, I know it's a baby and it's partly Mom, but I wish Dan had just once thought about what Mom would have wanted. It was so easy for him to choose to keep her here, dead, and it's so hard for me to think about, much less see.
"I got a call from your AP History teacher about how you're doing in class. Maybe we should talk about it," Dan says as we stop, one car in the many that are waiting to snake into the high school. Mostly freshman and sophomores get out here. Juniors get rides with their friends who have licenses or, better yet, get their own and a car to go with it.
I could get a ride with Olivia, but I don't.
"See you later," I tell Dan and get out of the car. I won't talk to him about school just like I won't ride to school with Olivia anymore. If I did, then Dan would get to feel like things are normal and they're not. They are so not. Not while Mom is still.
The tears hit me hard, hot pressure behind my eyes, in my throat, in my chest. It's hard to breathe, to see, to think.
I look down at the ground and walk, blinking hard once they've started to spill down my face.
I cry without making a sound now. I have cried soundlessly, wordlessly, since I stood with Dan at the hospital and heard, "I'm sorry, but."
Dan cried openmouthed then, sobbing, yelling his grief for everyone to see. I tried to hug him. I felt for him because I thought he loved her, because we were in the same place, because she was gone and he felt the gaping hole that had been born too, a Mom-shaped space in the universe.
He didn't hug me back. He didn't even seem to see me.
And then the doctor told him about the baby.
"Hey," Olivia says, and I know it's her because I would know her voice anywhere. We've been friends since first grade, and we've been through period trauma, boy crap, bad hair, her parents and their ways. And now Dan and his baby. "Hey," I say. I wipe my eyes and look at her. "How's the car?"
Olivia makes a face at me but also wraps an arm around my shoulders, steering me toward our lockers. Her parents gave her a fully loaded convertible when she got her license, one with a built-in music player, phone, navigation system- you name it, the car had it. Could do it, and all at the touch of a button.
Olivia sold the car-through the one newspaper left in the area, which is basically just ads-and bought a used car. It's so old all it has is a CD player and a radio. We bought CDs at yard sales for a while, but all we could get was old music, which we both hate, and the radio is just people telling you that what they think is what you should think, so we mostly just drive around in silence.
It used to bother me sometimes but now I like it. The inside of my head is so full now that silence is I don't know. There's just something about knowing Olivia is there, and that we don't have to talk. That she gets it. Gets me and what's going on.
Her parents were unhappy about the car, though. Really unhappy, actually, but then there was a big crisis with one of their server farms at work and by the time they surfaced for air they hadn't slept in four days. And when they said, "Olivia, that car was a gift," she said, "Yes, it was. A gift, meaning something freely given, for the recipient to use as she wanted to, right?"
As we hit her locker, we pass Anthony, and he says, "Ladies," bowing in my direction. A real bow too, like it's the nineteenth century or something.
"Ass," Olivia says.
"A donkey is actually not as stupid as people believe. However, you are entitled to your own beliefs about asses. And me." He looks at me. "Hello, Emma."
I sigh. "Hi, Anthony."
"If you ever want to talk about your grades, do know that I'm here."
I can't believe I ever thought the way he talked was interesting. It's just stupid, like he's too good to speak like a normal person. "I know, Anthony."
"I really would like to be of assistance to you. I believe in helping everyone. I'm talking to Zara Johns later. I think she feels threatened by the fact that I've been asked to help her organize the next school blood drive." Translation: he's butted in, and Zara's furious.
"Either that or she just doesn't like you. Emma, let's go," Olivia says, slamming her locker shut, and we head for mine.
"You okay?" she says, and I nod. Anthony doesn't bother me at all anymore, just like Mom said would happen. I look at him and feel nothing. Well, some annoyance, but then, who wouldn't after listening to him talk?
Of course, I didn't always think that he was annoying. I open my locker, deciding not to go down the Anthony road, and hear the guy next to me say, "No way! I mean, everyone knows what'll happen to Caleb if he steals another car."
Olivia and I glance at each other. If Anthony is the ass end of the smart part of the school, Caleb Harrison is the ass end of the stupid part. He's a total druggie and three years ago, when we were freshmen, he came to school so high he couldn't even talk. I heard that stopped last year, but then, as soon as school got out, his parents sent him off to some "tough love camp," which is rich-people code for boot-camp rehab.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was awful. Sometimes it had me laughing out loud because it was so awful, and other times it had me verbally expressing my anger and immense disliking toward the main character. But, I couldn't just quit in the middle of it because I had already invested so much time in reading it, expecting it to get better. Literally, the main character complains the whole time and REPEATS everything you already know numerous times. I understand that she is incredibly heartbroken and depressed that her mom is no longer living, but the way she handles her circumstances just makes me SO MAD. She treats her step-father like dirt. And she acts like he is some sort of bad guy, practically the whole book.. Like seriously. She describes him as if he committed some huge crime and is an evil lord trying to take over the world, but he seems like a caring, kind man in my opinion. The majority of the book consists of her visiting her dead mom in the hospital and then verbally abusing her step father or thinking terrible thoughts about him and then occasionally talking to her best friend. And then she meets Caleb, this guy with a bad reputation who turns out to be totally relatable (to her of course) and then they like each other but there are like hardly any "cute" parts, so if you are searching for romance or feel good stories, DO NOT READ THIS. It puts you in a nasty mood and it is just ridiculous and it's not worth the time. The reason I am glad I read it was so I could learn how not to write... The main character always talks about her past and it is very annoying because I like to know what is going on in the present time of the book, I don't really care about her random memories of her mom that don't matter to me. Maybe someone that can relate to this book better might like it more... but I wouldn't recommend it to any of my friends. Okay I'm done now. Oh. Also, the ending wasn't very good either. It doesn't get much better. Okay now I am officially done.
I wanted to really like this one, because I had heard great things about this book and Elizabeth Scott's books in general. But I just could not get into it. There were quite a few moments when DNF-ing it would cross my mind, but the book was so short, it didn't seem worth it. I will say, I do not regret finishing it. It did mostly redeem itself towards the end, and it was still a pretty good story. The issue I had was with the main character, Emma. I would also like to start off by saying, I could never imagine what Emma has gone through. Losing your mother, only to have her still there for the sake of the baby inside her. Seeing her, never getting closure. I can also understand why she would be so upset that Dan never asked her opinion on any of the choices made concerning her mom, because she was all her mother had until Dan came along. That said, I just couldn't stand how bitter and hateful she was towards Dan, the baby, the world. I tried to understand that she was coming from a place of grief, but it still didn't help things. She's so caught up in herself, she fails to see that Dan is grieving too. But now, instead of grieving just his wife, he's also grieving the family he once used to have, now that Emma has turned into who she is. The things she would say to Dan were, I felt, unforgivable. Most of the book was spent with Emma repeating the same things about how this isn't what her mother would have wanted, how Dan only cares about himself and the baby, how Dan only does what he wants, how no one understands, etc. But everything she said about her mother, how kind and loving she was, directly contradicts her firm belief that this isn't what her mother would have wanted. I felt that her mother would have wanted the baby to live, especially considering all she went through to simply conceive him. I realize that high school is a tough time. I realize that teenager's emotions are really screwed up. I can't even imagine what it would be like to have to go through what Emma did. But there were still times when I wanted to slap her. Caleb as the love interest was...okay. He wasn't particularly swoony or anything. He has his scars too, and I liked how he helped Emma with what she was dealing with, and she helped him. His family was pretty horrendous, and although I couldn't evoke much emotion for Emma, I could for Caleb. However, the writing was very well-done. Even as much as I disliked the characters, I have to agree with that. It flowed very smoothly, and kept even me interested enough to keep reading. It is for this reason that I will definitely check out more of Elizabeth Scott's work.
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Harlequin Teen and Netgalley.) 17-year-old Emma sees her dead mother every day – at the hospital where her body is kept alive by machines in order to incubate the baby she was pregnant with when she died. Emma blames her step-father Dan for the situation, because she believes that he chose to keep her mother alive for the sake of his son, something that Emma doesn’t agree with. Will the baby survive? Can Emma live with her mother being dead but not dead? And can she ever forgive her step-father for the difficult decision that he was forced to make? This was an unusual story, which raised moral questions, explored grief, and was ultimately very sad. Emma was a character that I both loved and hated. At times I understood where she was coming from, and the grief and anger that she was feeling, whilst at other times I just hated her for wanting her brother to die. The storyline in this book was really quite heart breaking. I understood the difficult decision that Emma’s stepfather had had to make, but I just didn’t get why Emma was so angry about it. I understood that her anger was part of her grief, but I just felt like her anger was misdirected. She continually blamed Dan for choosing ‘his son’ over her mother, when in reality it wasn’t a choice of one or the other! The choice was whether to let her mother die, or let both of them die, and I was just so upset by the way that Emma would rather her brother die, than have her mother kept alive for a few weeks to allow him to live. To be honest this book upset me. A lot. Why Emma thought that her brother should die, and why she thought that her mother wouldn’t have wanted her baby to survive I don’t know, but the thought that if it had been up to Emma she would have just switched the machines off and let both her mother and her brother die made me feel physically sick. Especially when she had been told that it wasn’t the pregnancy that caused her mother’s death. I don’t really want to think about this book anymore because I find it really quite depressing and sad. The ending was good, and we were left with hope that things would be better, but this whole story just makes me want to cry, and not in a good way. The idea that Emma would kill her little brother as some sort of retribution or revenge for her mother’s death was just sickening. Overall; emotional story about a girl overtaken by grief. 6.5 out of 10.
I received an ARC of this book from Miss Literati in exchange for a review. HEARTBEAT by Elizabeth Scott throws you into a story about a girl named Emma. Emma’s mother is brain dead, but her body is being kept alive so Emma’s unborn brother can continue to grow in her mom’s belly. The doctors hope they will be able to surgically remove him when he is strong enough. Emma is an emotional wreck. For good reason, too, because she visits her dead mother everyday. She feels completely separate from everyone else in her life. Her stepfather doesn't measure up to what she needs him to be. Emma keeps her best friend out of her new world as much as possible in an attempt to cling to her friend’s normalcy. Emma’s grades are dropping, but she doesn't care. She used to be a top student, and now she doesn't even turn in assignments. When Caleb Harrison — the bad boy in school — starts showing up more and more, Emma can’t help but interact with him. The more she talks to him, the more she learns, and the more she finds out there’s a part of him that people don’t get to see. HEARTBEAT captured my attention so well that I found myself reading when I knew there were other things I needed to be doing. It was hard to put it down, and when I did, I found I couldn't drop the emotions the book stirred in me nearly as easily as I could close the book. I was so enthralled that there were several times in the few days it took me to read HEARTBEAT that I was asked what was wrong. You might want to find a place where you can read alone. I suggest that you make sure you have tissues when you read this book. HEARTBEAT is such a good read. If you only take one thing away from it, it will be to pay attention to the people that matter. You never know how long you’ll have them.
I am an Elizabeth Scott fangirl from way back. Her books are so deep and emotional, the characters so raw and real, that I devour each and every one of her books. This one was no different. I loved Heartbeat from the first page. Emma's feelings about losing her mother are heartbreaking. The way she chooses to handle that grief is just as heartbreaking. She blames her stepfather and his baby for her mother's death, since he has chosen to keep her mother alive on machines in order for the baby to have a chance to grow to a point whee he can be safely delivered and have a chance at life. Emma's grief has warped he perceptions into a belief that her stepfather only cares about the baby. Some of the scene between the two of them are horrifyingly sad. As a reader, you wish you could reach through the pages and hug them both, explain to them that they should be leaning on each other. Enter Caleb. I loved Caleb as a character. I'm a big fan of tortured heros, and he definitely fits the description. He does have a bad reputation and has done some pretty bad things, but when Emma begins to know him and discovers the source of these actions, the two of them are able to understand each other better than anyone else possibly could. Their growing relationship is the catalyst to healing for the both of them. This story was emotional, as are all of Elizabeth Scott's books. I flew through it, the pacing was so good, and I felt very deeply for each of these characters. I loved this story and would highly recommend it, and all of her books!
Heartbeat is sad. Like, depressingly sad. But at the same time, incredibly hopeful. We start off by learning that Emma's mother is dead, but being kept alive by machines so her baby may have a chance at life. This is not something Emma supports and resents her stepfather, Dan, for this decision. Once a close family, they have been torn apart by her mother's unexpected death and subsequent status. Soon after her mother's death, Emma's life spirals out of control. Once an AP student with the skills to attend any college she chooses, she is now failing all her classes and shut herself off from everybody except her best friend, Olivia. The great thing about this novel is that you feel Emma's pain, her grief and loss. Elizabeth translates the heartache with her words in an emotionally moving way. I suffered along with Emma, I felt lost and confused, the anger at her stepfather and the baby, the wondering why this happened. I can't fault Emma for her anger and confusion. She and Dan are in a tricky situation. Dan believes he did what was right, while Emma can't forgive him for his decision. Is it right to keep her mother "alive" for the baby? Should she be this angry with her stepfather and hold so much hatred for this baby? The novel felt real. Whether Emma was sitting with Olivia, giving sarcastic and hateful comments Dan, or simply thinking, I was able to picture everything that happened. To feel everything that happened. Caleb is an amazing character, crossing paths with Emma exactly when she needed it. He's suffering from his own loss of his younger sister from years ago, a death that both he and his parents blame him for as he was watching her. As they're both suffering from crippling loss, they are able to lean on one another and comfort each other. This relationship gives them both the strength they need to heal and find the peace they need to live their lives. There is a turning point in the novel, a conversation between Emma and her stepfather, that was so wonderfully done, it brought tears to my eyes. I flew through the novel and still felt such a connection to both the story and characters. This would be a hard subject for anybody to read, let alone wright about. Death is hard, the death of a loved one is even harder. Elizabeth handles this tricky topic with class and taste. It's a simple reminder to love the ones we love while we can. Emma talks about how she shouldn't have worried so much about homework and spent just a bit more time with her mother, and while it's easy to say that in hindsight, it's a bit tricky in the moment. This novel is not only a beautiful story, but a beautiful reminder that "grief holds you tight. It holds you forever. But we can hold each other too."
I got an eARC of this book to review. I *might* have put off reading this until the last minute. But! The book was a nice surprise. It was a fast read that managed to put my emotions out of whack. It was touching and sweet. There was not too much nor too little of anything. It's a read that may be difficult for some people, but is definitely worth it! The main character is Emma. She feels fairly pathetic to the average eye, but you have to keep in mind that her mother died only a few weeks before. While you're reading, it might seem like longer, but it's really not. Before her mother died, Emma was obsessed with her grades, and would blow off family time so as to work on homework. She had her life planned out, which is a good thing, up to a point. Emma continually succumbs to the darkness that her mother's death has left in it's wake, but she begins to grow stronger about halfway through the book. The main issue of the book is that her stepfather is keeping her mother's dead body alive so that their unborn child can survive. But Emma feels as if he cares more about the baby than her mother. Emma and her stepfather are constantly bashing heads. I believe that, when it comes down to it, her stepfather is a good guy who didn't know how to deal with things. Emma meets Caleb partway through the book. He's a bad boy who has done some not-so-great things out of grief. His little sister passed away previous to the start of the book, and his parents blame him. The pair of them are a couple that could, honestly, blow up the world or put it back on it's feet. By and by, my favorite character is Emma's best friend Olivia. She is the best friend a girl could ask for. Despite Emma's moping, Olivia sticks around and is there for her, day in and day out. She manages to knock some sense into Emma when no one else can, and is simply amazing. As far as plot goes, it was okay. I never felt like there was a strong climax, but the beginning and ending were strong. The book turns fairly philosophical at points. As Emma remembers things from her past, she sees memories in different lights and takes lessons from everything she experiences. Life has not been extremely kind to any of the characters. But even still, they rise up and are better because of it. There is romance, but it is in no way the center of the story. The male protagonist is very much a rock for the main character instead of just a romantic interest. He has true point to the story. I feel like the main thing in this story is the characters, and how they interact in change. I give it four stars.
Rating: 4.5/5 Heartbeat is a definite must-read for anyone out there that is looking for a heart warming story of forgiveness and acceptance. When I first looked at the cover and the title, I was immediately pulled in and had to read it. I have only read another book by Elizabeth Scott and it was great, so I didn't hesitate to read her latest book. From the very start we meet Emma, a high school girl who has lost her mother and in a way her stepfather. It is evident right from the beginning that her relationship with her stepfather is not easy and she is angry at him for what he did (and is still doing) to her mother. Emma's mother is brain dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her. But having a mother kept alive by machines is difficult for Emma to handle and more so now that her stepfather decided to do that to her without asking Emma's opinion makes their relationship that much more difficult. Now she resents her stepfather for destroying her mother and not letting her go all because of the baby. Emma struggles to forgive her stepfather and turns to her best-friend Victoria to keep her from losing herself completely. Victoria represents the life that she could have outside her home, while her house represents unhappiness and anger. But it isn't until Caleb walks into her life that she feels safe and understood. Both of them have struggled deeply in their lives and together they support one another and give each other the comfort that they need to keep going. As the story unfolds, they start to feel more for one other and that's what eventually saves them. I really enjoyed reading Heartbeat, the book deals with difficult issues that you just don't see every day. The story wasn't overshadowed by the romance, although the romantic scenes between Emma and Caleb were really sweet. The overall book was more about what Emma goes through to accept her new life and to understand each relationship that she has. The writing was really good, it goes from present to past most of the time. Is is mainly Emma's character that is remembering what happened before with her mom and recalling memories. I would have liked to see more of Caleb's story, and perhaps some type of resolution to his problems, that would have made the story that much better. But overall, the story was great, the ending was satisfying and I highly recommend it. *ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Heartbeat was a great read about getting past grief and falling in love that had me crying in a few spots—both happy and sad tears. FRIENDSHIP The friendship was one of my favorite things of the entire novel. It was such a relief to find a close pair of friends in a book. It's so . . . rare to find. Usually, there's a lot of drama or conflict between the pair, but thankfully Olivia and Emma were an exception. There were no big fights and no drama between them. They actually spoke to each other. They were open with one another, and each did her best to support the other. It was so nice to see that happening in this Heartbeat. CALEB & EMMA They were . . . just an utterly adorable couple. They fit very well together. At first, I had doubts about Caleb, but he turned out to be a very sad, quiet, understanding, and nice guy. He turned out to be a really good guy. He had his own grief to deal with, as did Emma. They needed each other and that made them a very good match. The two helped each other get through the grief, and I usually love it when characters do that. WRITING It was beautiful and very quotable. I found myself wanting to highlight a bunch of passages simply because I liked how they sounded! PACING It was slow, but not the boring kind. It was a "take your time" slow. Things weren't rushed and development was allowed to happen. OVERALL Heartbeat was a beautiful read with amazing relationships and a focus on grief—how it effects individuals, how it affects families—that was very well done. Source: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.
Heartbeat is an emotional wild ride. Elizabeth Scott, the author, knows how to pack a powerful punch with the heartstrings, and I was misty eyed several times. The main character Emma is strong, determined and she had a strong bond with her mom. Unfortunately, she passed away, but she's being kept alive with machines for the baby. Emma is dealing with this halted, stilted grief because even though her mom is brain dead, her body is still there, and Emma has to see her every day. Emma has a lot of anger as well, and most of it is directed at her step-dad Dan. I understand where she is coming from because he is the one to make the decision about keeping her mom alive, and Emma sees it as making the decision completely about the baby with no regard for her mother. But as a parent myself, I totally feel for Dan. That had to be a heartwrenching decision, and he has to know deep down that that is what his wife would have wanted, to give this baby a chance. But then to have Emma questioning that and distancing herself, I totally can't even imagine how that feels. So, that all said, I really admire Dan for continuing to try to bond with Emma, and care for her, all the while attempting to respect her feelings and boundaries she's put up. The relationship or deterioration was one thing that I kept my fingers crossed would be a place where Emma saw the truth of things. Luckily this was an area of the book where there was quite a bit of focus, and with it progress, and both sides admitting where they were wrong and the big c word: compromise. But above all, love and working through problems instead of just letting it simmer and one day explode under the pressure. I am glad for Emma that she has her best friend Olivia there for her. Olivia is the kind of friend that we all want, quirky but loyal to the end. She provides rides, a listening ear, and a shoulder to cry on for Emma. We all know that Emma and Caleb, the bad boy mentioned in the synopsis will have chemistry and a relationship, but I like how it came to be. Their first encounters were by chance and overall antagonistic since Emma was so emotional, and it seemed that Caleb was defensive. I loved getting to know what was underneath Caleb's mask. I figured it was due to pain or loss, esp how when he saw Emma's mom he had understanding, a deeper connection than the pity or sorry for your loss of someone who just doesn't get it. I liked their slower build to romance and that they had a connection, they had a spark, definite chemistry, but they also had deep, real, hard conversations. I will say there were some of the medical aspects that I felt were stretching the lines of plausibility, but then again, my medical knowledge is pretty limited and I have never done research on this sort of case. However, this did not at all take away from my enjoyment of this book. In fact, I devoured it, finishing in one day. I think that the ending was good, but I wanted to know more. It wrapped up with Emma in a good place for continued healing, and accepting that it is okay to grieve, to miss her mom, but it is also okay to be happy. Bottom Line: Emotional story of a girl's loss of her mother and coming to terms with the unconventional family that's left.
The start of this novel might have caused me several heart palpitations, with characters that seemed to move backwards instead of forwards, and an unlikeable cast of misfits and miscreants. Had I developed a bit more sense, I might have shoved the entire story aside and moved on with my life. But curiosity kept me flipping pages like I was flipping shirts into a suitcase ready to take the next bus out of town. Instead of ending up at the train station, I stopped about halfway there, and turned my butt back around. The beauty of HEARTBEAT took a bit longer to arrive than I otherwise would have liked, but I did find it, and there was a leprechaun at the end of the rainbow, guarding the pot of gold with a heart monitor and electric shock treatments. He might have had a grin on his face, or it might have been a smirk, but either way it was present and accounted for, along with his scrubs, and his slightly cynical outlook on life. Emma might have taken the fast-track to her seventeen years, with the pedal to the floor and her arm sticking out the window, while Dan, the diligent stepdad, offered up a smile and a nod in her direction. The direction of her life was headed on the downward slope, sinking faster than a person in the middle of cardiac arrest without a single doctor in sight. Caleb might have been the bad boy who had an extra dose of wicked in his lifestyle dysfunction with a hard heart and an ability to sink cars. But this is one story that made me want to cheer, even if I had to accomplish said task from a sitting position. And my fortunes do feel just a bit brighter after having finished this novel. This was one quick read that left me blinking ever so slightly in surprise as the events unfolded right before my eyes. I received this book for free through NetGalley. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
Emma's having a tough year.. hell, she could even win the award for worst and most screwed up year. Her mom suddenly becomes brain dead one day and her husband, and Emma's step dad, is keeping her on life support until her pregnancy is complete. Emma feels the ultimate betrayal because a) she feels that her step dad is choosing the baby over her mother, b) He never took Emma's opinion or emotions into consideration when making this decision, c) She has always looked up to her step dad as an actual dad and can't understand how someone who loves her mom so much would put her through this whole ordeal, suspended in time, not being to move on or move forward with her and their lives. I really sympathized with Emma.. but at the same time I also understood to some level what her step dad was doing. It brought out so many conflicting emotions in me and I loved how Scott was able to do that. I've read a couple of Scott's books and they are mostly fluffy contemporaries, but this isn't one of them. After her mother's accident, Emma's life also sort of stopped. She stopped caring about school, about her friends, and basically about everything in her life. When your mother is suddenly taken from you, but you still see her.. but she just isn't your mom anymore.. just thinking about it is making me teary. Writing this review is making me tear up! I would never wish this situation on anyone. My mom and I are very close and what Emma was going through was so tragic. I understood her lashing out at her step dad, and not giving a damn about the world anymore. People might think she's overly emotional and isn't thinking right.. but that's the thing.. anyone in her situation will be emotional and irrational. Enter Caleb, the bad boy in town.. at least that's what the gossip says but he is another case of misunderstood sweet boy that everyone thinks is a bad boy because of some incident. Anyways, I liked Caleb, and really liked how he sort of helped Emma through her period of grief. I loved reading Emma's hesitant steps back into the outside world through Caleb and even her best friend who was always there for her, as well as her step dad never giving up on Emma and really treating her as his own daughter and showing her his love towards her and her mom. This was was an emotional roller coaster for Emma and even for me. I couldn't put it down and read it in a single day. Heartbeat is a short book packed with so many emotions it will leave you breathless and teary by the end of it. I definitely recommend it for realistic contemporary YA fans. I am excited to see what new books Elizabeth Scott will be writing because I will be picking them up for sure.
This was a very emotional story for me, one of those that is just heart-wrenching. The characters are both broken people brought together while dealing with painful, tragic situations. Heart Beat is a raw, gripping story of loss, hope, grief and the pain and joy that are experienced in the process. The romance was not the main focus of the book, but it added so much to it. While emotionally taxing, I am glad that I read it. It is definitely one of those books that stays with you long after you turn the last page.
Heartbeat is a novel that deals with grief. I can’t imagine going through everything that Emma is going through. She has so much hate and anger that she needs to talk to someone but refuses to. I don’t like that she was so mean to her stepfather, but I can understand it. I’ve lost people that were very important to me, but not as a teen so I don’t know if I would have acted the same or not. There isn’t any action, or anything like that, in this book. Heartbeat takes you on a journey with Emma to try to handle feelings toward her stepfather, the baby, and the death of her mother. I didn’t like that there was a love interest. It felt like it was forced. They didn’t know much about each other, but had strong feelings toward the other. I love that Emma has a best friend that has stuck with her through everything. I think all people, not just teens, need a friend like Olivia. It was hard getting into a teen perspective for this read. Things that I wouldn’t do seem crazy coming from Emma. But again, I haven’t lost anyone in my teen years, so I can’t say that I wouldn’t have reacted the same way.
3.5 stars! I’m struggling a bit with writing a review for this one. Heartbeat wasn’t anything like I thought it would be. I’m not really sure if I liked the book or hated it, but either way it left an impression on me. Emma is struggling to cope with the loss of her mother, which occurred only a couple months prior. The closure and dealing with her mother’s death is delayed by the fact that Emma is still able to visit her mother (or more appropriately her mother’s body) every day as her mother is being kept alive by machines until the baby that’s growing inside her is able to live on his own. Emma’s stepfather made the decision to keep her brain-dead mother’s heart beating long enough for his unborn son to have a better chance of surviving. Let’s just say Emma is having a difficult time dealing with his decision. She’s mad. REALLY mad. At everyone and everything. Anyone that knows me knows how much I love my contemporary and realistic fiction stories. I really thought I would love this one. But the anger Emma felt toward everyone and everything was something that was very difficult for me to understand. Though I can completely relate to anger and loss, I couldn’t grasp her hatred toward her stepfather, and really anyone else that looked at her the wrong way, over the decisions that were made regarding her mother. Yes, it maybe wasn’t what she would have chosen herself, but she neglected to see anyone else’s opinion on the subject, including what her mother would have wanted. I’m sure this is a major part of the story, and we’re not supposed to love Emma, but this made me a bit frustrated with her actions and thoughts throughout the story. The idea of this story and the way Elizabeth Scott went about approaching such a sensative topic was very well done. When I first read the synopsis I knew this was a book I would read. Though I have heard of people keeping bodies alive for things like this, I never really thought twice about it. Reading this story definitely opened my eyes to this sort of thing. Honestly, I can’t imagine how Emma felt, or how Dan, her stepfather, felt while making a decision like that. Though tough and heart-wrenching may describe it accurately, I think it’s much more than that. I’m really happy I decided to give this book a go. And I’m happy I didn’t stop reading right away when Emma started to get on my nerves. I was happy to see the way she developed as the story progressed. The romance in the story was a nice addition as well. There was a major emphasis on family and friends, which I found heartwarming. It definitely left me thinking long after I finished the book.
Really great story filled with a lot of emotions. I loved that the relationship between Caleb and Emma wasn't about romance, but about healing. It was very refreshing and something that should be in more books. I loved the ending and thought that it was perfect that it wasn't a fairy tale ending. At the end of the book I just wanted to go hug my mom, and I did. I highly recommend this book and I will definitely be looking to more books by Elizabeth Scott.
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott Publisher: Harlequin TEEN Publication Date: January 28, 2014 Rating: 5 stars Source: eARC from Edelweiss Summary (from Goodreads): 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? What I Liked: Just a note (not that it really matters): I read this book back in early August, but I wanted to hold off on writing and publishing my review until closer to the release date. Granted, it's still not *that* close to the release date, but it's good enough. Better than August. So! This book! What a book! You all do not understand how much this book touched me. I read it before it had a cover (the cover wasn't revealed until October tenth, anyway), so I wasn't dissuaded by the romance-based cover. Trust me, this book's romance plays a huge role in this book, but it's not what I would feature on the cover. I like the cover, but maybe not for this book. This book deals with difficult issues. A girl is struggling to maintain a relationship with her stepfather - a relationship that she feels like she doesn't want. Emma wants to hate Dan for keeping her mother's body alive, in order to have a shot at keeping their son (Dan and Emma's mother's son). You see, Emma's mother is over forty years old. Once women pass about thirty-five, pregnancies become high-risk. The baby could be born with conditions and disease, and the mother will most likely have a difficult pregnancy and difficult labor. So, Emma's mother technically dies, at fifteen weeks at pregnancy, but Dan makes the decision to maintain her bodily functions, so that the fetus can grow. Twenty-five weeks is the magic number. I totally understand why Emma hated Dan's decision so much. He never asked Emma what she wanted. It seemed like everything he was doing, he was doing for the baby, and not thinking about Emma's mother, or Emma. I can relate to this book as a whole, because my mother's sister (my aunt) went through basically the same thing last year. She was over forty, already had a daughter my age, but she got pregnant. About twenty-ish weeks into the pregnancy, things started to go downhill. She started bleeding, she was bedridden, the baby was under high stress... my aunt could have died, and the baby could have died. Around Christmas time, the baby was taken, and he died. My aunt wanted to keep the baby inside of her for as long as possible. She would have done anything for that little boy - just like Emma's mother. The (big) difference is, Emma's mother died from being pregnant - my aunt survived (but her little boy didn't). So, I feel like the issue with Emma's feelings about her mother's death, her future stepbrother, and her stepfather, is the forefront of the story. I'm saying that I don't like the cover, but I feel like the romance is secondary. And I don't know how Ms. Scott did it, but Emma's voice is phenomenal. I mean, as a teen, I could totally relate to Emma. I could feel all of her feelings, think all of her thoughts, understand what she was going through... everything just seemed extremely realistic. Emma's anger with her stepfather is so well-written - I would have reacted similarly, I feel! The romance is beautiful, though. I love Emma and Caleb together. Both of them are broken, splintered apart by awful, tragic events in their lives. Both of them need each other, want each other, and thankfully, they find each other. I seriously think that the romance in this book is PERFECT. Subtle, simple yet complex, tortured, beautiful. I really, really enjoyed this book. It broke my heart in many ways, because of what happened so recently with my aunt, but I loved this book regardless. This book will always be special to me, for that reason. The ending is imperfectly perfect. You'll have to read the book to know whether or not the baby survived, Emma and Caleb survived, Emma and Dan survived, and so on. But I love the ending. I love this book. What I Did Not Like: I have nothing to say in this section! I know that no book is perfect, but I really cannot think of anything for this section at the moment! Would I Recommend It: YES! I know that the cover will lead you to think that this book is a contemporary romance story - which it does feature - but that's not solely what this book is about! Give it a try, whether you like contemporary novels or not. It might change things for you! This is one of those books that if you can relate, then it sticks with you forever. I know it will, for me! Rating: 5 stars. I haven't read anything else by Ms. Scott, but I have to say, I am very impressed! This story has so much meaning to me, so I am honored to have had a chance to read it.
“My mother’s name was Lisa Davis Harold, and she was strong and beautiful. She was a person, she had her own thoughts, and I remember that. I remember how she was. Who she was. I remember her. I’m the only one who does.” Heartbeat tackles an issue I’ve never really thought much (read: anything) about – keeping a dead person alive on machines so the unborn baby inside of them has a chance to live. Emma’s mom had a difficult time conceiving and had some health issues that led her to a very risky pregnancy. She suffered a brain aneurysm and died, but the decision was made to keep her alive on machines until the baby was further along and hopefully capable of surviving. I am grateful the bad things happened before the beginning of the book. As much of a mess as I was reading this book, I can only imagine it would have been that much worse had I been made to experience it all first-hand with Emma. “Mom, I’m sorry,” I whisper now as I step into school, and I hope she hears me. That she forgives me. That she can help me find a way to untangle the knot of hate in my heart, because it’s there. It’s there, and I feel it. It’s there, and I can’t make it go away. I understand what she meant now about the edge and how hate can take over everything. I see it. I feel it. But I don’t know how to stop it. And the one person who could, the one person who’d be able to pull me back, is gone. Through the course of this book, I found myself trying to put myself in Emma’s shoes. How would I feel if my mother’s new husband kept my mom hooked up to machines so that their son had a chance of surviving? Would I be angry? Sad? Grief-stricken? Filled with hate? When my relationship with him suffered because he seemed more concerned about the baby than me, how would that make me feel? Jealous? Heartbroken? Would it make me feel completely alone, like I lost two parents? Who would I turn to for support? What would happen when I met a new guy who seemed to understand everything I was going through? I concluded I would be a gigantic ball of messy feelings, much like Emma was in this book. I can’t fault her for any of her emotions or actions in this book. It’s an unfathomable situation she’s in and I think the fact that she was even upright said a lot. “I see what grief does, how it strips you bare, shows you all the things you don’t want to know. That loss doesn’t end, that there isn’t a moment where you are done, when you can neatly put it away and move on.” Heartbeat is about more than a controversial issue though. It’s about grief and anger, heartbreak and hope, first love, and most of all, relationships. Emma’s relationship with her mom, her mom’s relationship with Dan, Emma’s relationship with Dan, Emma’s friendship with Olivia, and Emma’s relationship with Caleb were all focused on in this book. Each of them was unique and filled me with a different emotion. I loved watching Caleb and Emma’s friendship grow and evolve into something else. They were two souls who needed someone to lean on and found the perfect person in each other. Emma and Dan’s relationship was downright painful at times. There was resentment and guilt and anger, but there was also love. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for a step-parent/step-child to continue a relationship when the person who brought them together in the first place is no longer there. It would be tough, I think, in any situation, but it was made that much worse given the situation they were in. “He tastes like salt, like tears. He tastes like pizza and grief and love and fear. He tastes like Caleb and I want more and there is a noise and it isn’t me. I am not saying anything now, I know I’m not, and I pull away and it’s Caleb, he is making that noise, a broken, almost animal sound, his head thrown back and I can see a pulse beating in his neck. It’s his heart and it is beating and I can make it beat fast and I like that and I move in again.” Heartbeat was angsty and emotional and, at times, downright uncomfortable to read. Not that I truly fault any of the characters for their actions or the things they said. I feel like the author navigated this tricky subject in a wonderful way. I sympathized with both Emma and Dan. My heart broke for both of them. As painful as the story was at time, it was also hopeful. It was beautifully-written and the characters were complex, and while not always necessarily likable, understandable. I only wanted good things for all of them, especially after all the pain they’d been through. Though I wouldn’t mind checking in on these characters from time, I felt like the story was complete at the end and I was very happy with how it all worked out. If you’re looking for a book to make you feel, I can’t recommend this one highly enough. “Words can lie but hugs can’t. You know when they are real and this is real and Dan is here and that means he didn’t leave me, that he’s not going to send me away to Mom’s parents or to some boarding school or just kick me out. It means the Dan I knew is here. That I still matter to him.” This was my first Elizabeth Scott read. It absolutely won’t be my last. I love the honesty and realness of her characters and her writing. I felt like I was part of the story, not just an observer. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley (and Edelweiss!), in exchange for an honest review. All quotes come from the review copy and may differ from the final version.
When I say it took all of me to finish this book... It took a hell of an effort for me to finish it and the only reason I did was because I kept hoping against hope that she would grow up and change. Because most of what was going on was hurting me so much to read. Let's start off with what I DID like about this story. The writing style was amazing. All the emotions that Emma, Dan, Caleb, and Olivia went through are clearly shown throughout the novel. In some places their grief almost broke me down. In all honesty, if you can look past some things, it really is a gut wrenching story. And with it actually happening in the same state where I am, it makes it all too real. But the reality stops there. The reason I wanted to stop reading this was the MC, I HATED her. She was the most selfish, undeserving brat on the planet. She put Dan in such a bad position it was unreal. And then, it didn't matter what he said or did, she still hated him for it. She just didn't understand that Dan had lost someone too and she made EVERYTHING about her. Even when it shouldn't have been about her at all. I mean let's be honest.... You were upset because Dan didn't want to be all huggy huggy with you. Yes your mother just died, but his wife just died as well. He was in love with her. And he didn't ask you about keeping her alive to save the baby because (and correct me if I'm wrong) he's your brother and you should have been jumping up and down saying "YES SAVE HIM PLEASE!" And as for the romance, I felt it was a good one because they both found someone that was able to understand what they were going through, even if it was in completely different ways. But I didn't feel like it was believable. This completely broken person finds another completely broken person and turns them around from 70%-100% and that person completes a whole 180? Yeah I'm not sure about that. I just felt like it was a little insta-lovey for them not to know anything about each other, but you know he lost someone so you just up and start talking to him? I don't like it. This book wasn't normally one I would pick up. I had something completely different in mind for this story and it changed me. But please be prepared, if you don't have that much patience, this is not the story for you. The MC will ruin any chance you have of enjoying it. Overall, I give this
One teen, one horrific tragedy, a seemingly endless nightmare for her to live every single day. Was Emma’s emotional response, her need to lash out with hatred, her closing in and focusing solely on her own pain, believing that she knew best what her mother’s wishes would have been a realistic view of reality? Yes and no, everyone reacts to their own grief in their own way. Emma’s pregnant mother has been declared brain dead and her step-father has made the decision to keep her mother alive via life support until the baby has reached a viable stage in its development to have a chance at survival. She resents not having a say, she resents having to see the shell of her mother day in and day out, she resents her step father’s “selfishness,” Emma pretty much resents everything, especially the cruel trick life has played on her. Can she grow within and learn to truly see the pain others carry? Will the damaged boy she meets and falls in love with give her the perspective to look beyond herself? Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott is not a beautiful tale of love, loss, growth and personal redemption filled with light and love. Ms. Scott has written a dark and gritty story of overwhelming grief in a teen ill-equipped to handle it and unwilling to see the pain others felt around her. This tale has jagged edges, and is not a warm and cozy read, but Ms. Scott does pull the reader in, and spares nothing in building this shattered vision of life, coping or not coping with death and takes the scenario over the top with its intense emotional anguish. If you are looking for a bright and shiny silver lining, a massive transformation at the end for Emma, you will be disappointed, but as far as being a realistic view of the dark side of grief, life and the turmoil of being almost an adult, but not quite, Ms. Scott has nailed an extreme version of it here and in that, there is much to take away from this sobering read. Did I like Emma? I wanted to like her more than I did, but I could feel her pain and saw the guilt she also felt. Was her wake up call a life-changing epiphany? No, but probably more realistic than I would like to think. Did the author do her job? Definitely, this story has been etched into my mind. I received an ARC edition from Harlequin Teen in exchange for my honest review.
One moment, Emma had the perfect family — her stepfather Dan who doted on her, a mother who understood her like no one else, and a little brother on the way. And then it was gone. The bright high school student who once fretted only over whether her grades would get her into her top-pick of colleges now spends every afternoon talking to the once lively woman who once meant everything to her, now being kept alive only by machines and only long enough to serve as an incubator to her yet-to-be-born brother — a decision Dan made without even consulting her. Caleb is part troublemaker and part mystery. He’s dabbled in drugs, stolen cars, and been sent to — as he calls it — suck camp. But that’s really all anyone knows about him. He’s not your typical thrill seeker, so the question is, why? Why would a boy who seems to have everything harbor so much anger? Aside from her best friend Olivia, Emma has no one. Her mother is gone, her stepfather is obsessed only with his unborn son, and any other friends she had before her mother was pronounced brain dead have long since faded into the background. So when she sees a familiar sense profound loss in the face of the resident bad boy, she can’t help but be intrigued. The Verdict... Heartbeat is not a book you sit down and read. It’s a book you actually feel, each word arranged not just to perfectly describe a situation or emotion, but to absolutely envelope you in it. The simplicity with which the author describes the acute grief of losing someone and the life-altering absence of them is hauntingly accurate. There’s a loneliness in loss that no one can understand unless they’ve been through it, too, and for a girl still in high school, there aren’t many around her who can relate. Olivia may be Emma’s anchor to both the past and the present, but Caleb is different. While he has no words of wisdom that will lessen the pain she may not ever escape, he sees what others can’t because he’s right there in that forever-changed world with her. The relationship between Caleb and Emma grows out of shared loss and an understanding that only they have, though it’s not immune to the awkwardness and self-conscious second-guessing that teenagers know all too well. Despite its grim premise, Heartbeat isn’t an angst-filled read; it’s a story of love amongst one of life’s inescapable certainties, with an unlikely savior who is just as in need of saving as Emma is. Their simple understanding and undeniable attraction to each other is so beautifully told that I couldn’t put it down until I’d read it twice over. If ever there was a book that spoke not just to but also from the heart of a teenage girl, this one is it.
Very moving, very emotional. One of my favorites!!!!