Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Be Still My Fluttering Heart

Expected Publication: October 23rd, 2012
By: Gina Linko
Random House Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13: 9780375869969

All Emery Land wants is to be like any other 17-year-old—to go to school, hang out with her friends, and just be normal. But for as long as she can remember, she’s suffered from seizures. And in recent years they’ve consumed her life. To Emery they’re much more than seizures, she calls them loops—moments when she travels through wormholes back and forth in time and to a mysterious town. The loops are taking their toll on her physically. So she practically lives in the hospital where her scientist father and an ever-growing team of doctors monitor her every move. They’re extremely interested in the data they collect when Emery seizes. It appears that she’s tapping into parts of the brain typically left untouched by normal human beings.

Escaping from the hospital, Emery travels to Esperanza, the town from her loops on the upper peninsula of Michigan, where she meets Asher Clarke. Ash’s life is governed by his single-minded pursuit of performing good Samaritan acts to atone for the death of a loved one. His journey is very much entwined with Emery’s loops.

Drawn together they must unravel their complicated connection before it’s too late.


   Emery Land is sick of being treated like a walking, talking, laboratory experiment by her Dad and the government.  Ever since she was little Em has been 'looping' back and forth through time, while having seizures that have nearly destroyed her body's functions.  Practically living in the hospital, all Em wants is to be a normal high school girl.  When her visions of the mysterious little boy and his town become more vivid, Emery enlists the help of her best friend Gia to run away to Esperanza, Michigan to find him.  While there she makes a connection with another wandering teen named Asher Clarke.  His life is consumed by acts of kindness, to make up for the death of a family member he blames himself for.  He is familiar to Em and she's determined to figure out their connection.  But can they solve the mystery before Em is caught by her Dad, and the NSA/FBI/CIA agents he's working with?  Also, will they be able to reconcile their feelings for each other with their messed up situation?  This book just about broke my heart.  It really did deserve the comparison to The Time Traveler's Wife, with it's extremely complicated and winding narrative.  Even though it was far more linear that the aforesaid novel by Audrey Niffenger, it was still very similar.  However, a plot twist near the very end sets it apart on a plane of existence all its own.  Emery is a compelling main character.  Her seizures are becoming more frequent and effectively killing her, bit by bit.  She is a constant hospital patient and it makes so much sense to me that she would fixate so heavily on something in one of her loops, because what else does she really have other than a really crappy, probably short-lived existence?  I loved that the book was set in Michigan - how often does that happen in YA books that are published by major publishing houses?  The representation of the home state was seriously awesome! :)  Other readers complain about the slow build of the plot, but in this case it really worked for me.  I liked having the focus set on Em trying to figure out the mystery behind the little boy and the town in her loops.  I also loved seeing her build a slice of real life in Esperanza while she searched.  Ash was an interesting character and I enjoyed that fact that he didn't follow the current trend of YA love interests by being a self-righteous prick.  He was kind, caring and had his own shit to deal with.  But he still had time to make Emery feel special and become someone important in her life.  I could have used more resolution at the end with the Dad/government subplot and the choice that Emery and Ash ultimately made was beautiful on a tragic level but also majorly disappointing.  They could have done so many other things, so why choose that road?  Overall, not for the faint of heart and not for hardcore sci-fi fans, because it was really more of a romance/fantasy novel.  I myself would have liked a larger dose of sci-fi.

VERDICT:  4/5  Stars

*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is October 23rd, 2012.*

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