Monday, June 17, 2013

That's The Beat of a Heart

Expected Publication:  January 10th, 2014
By: Elizabeth Scott
Harlequin Teen
ISBN-13:  9780373210961

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?


      Just a quick disclaimer: the cover hasn't been revealed as of yet, so I was forced to get creative with clip-art/internet pictures.  Okay now on to the review! :)  The reason the premise of this book intrigued me from the start, was the resemblance to a plot that Jodi Picoult might tackle in one of her books.  Not an 'issue' novel in the direct sense or the traditional one, but technically that's the classification.  This book was extremely difficult to read and not let myself make judgments on the characters until the end.  Emma's Mom is dead and she will never be able to ask her advice on boys, tell her about school or speak to her at all and get an answer back.  But even though she's dead, her Mom is hooked up to machines and turned into a living incubator to try and keep Emma's unborn brother alive long enough to make it when he's actually born.  Emma is horrified by this and thinks that her Mom would hate what Dan, her husband (Em's stepdad), has done to her.  And Emma is almost certain that her Mom only got pregnant to please Dan and was terrified to have a baby - that she never wanted one at all.  As Emma exists in a haze of anger and loneliness that is eating her up inside she makes friends with Caleb who is the school degenerate.  He is dealing with his own grief, which stems from something worse than Em ever imagined.  With him and her best friend Olivia to support her, Emma thinks she just might make it through.  But then Dan actually asks for her opinion and Emma is forced to make the hardest choice of her life.  Is it the right one and is it a choice she can live with?  Also, can Emma let go of her deep anger and open herself up to love in all its forms?
     I definitely sympathized with Emma.  She has not only lost her Mom, a vibrant and important person but is forced to see her barely existing all for a baby that isn't even for sure going to make it.  Something like that is bound to create resentment, anger and horror in a teenage girl.  Also, I loved that Scott showed that Emma was angry with Dan mostly for not even asking her opinion about continuing life support and his sudden focus on the baby, ignoring her almost completely.  She basically loses both her parents at the same time.  But for all that, Emma really grated on my nerves with her constant vilification of an unborn baby and her seeming determination to wipe it from her life.  Plus the insistence that just because her Mom felt afraid, that she hadn't wanted the baby, etc. got on my nerves.  Just because she is Emma's Mom doesn't mean that Em knows every little thing about her, as much as Em thinks it does!  She is a teenager and is inferring all this from her limited observances of her Mom's pregnancy.  All the whining/observation/anger about this supposed fact did begin to grate on me and make Emma seem like she had the reasoning capabilities of an 8 year old, rather than a 16 year old!  Urghhh!  Was her Stepdad supposed to just let the baby die out of respect for his wife and lose the only child he would ever have with her - all due to what Emma believes?
     That said, the situation did tear at my heartstrings.  The subplot with the accident that is still tearing Caleb's family apart years later was so real that it made me physically ache for the family's suffering.  The ending of this book was far from neat and tidy but it fit the story and was believable in regards to the different characters and their personalities, etc.  I liked the romance as the light in the storm, but also felt like it was almost entirely unnecessary to the book.  They did fix each other though and did it in a beautiful way.  I can't say it was the best book I've ever read, but I did enjoy it and it was certainly thought-provoking.  That said, I would only recommend this to readers who don't shy away from controversial issues.  Otherwise don't even bother.

VERDICT:  3.75/5  Stars

*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication is August 27th, 2013.*

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