Saturday, 15 February 2014
Review: Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Hardcover / eBook
Released: January 28th, 2014 / March, 2014 (UK)
Since her mother's sudden death, Emma has existed in a fog of grief, unable to let go, unable to move forward—because 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 important—grades, crushes, college plans—Emma has only her best friend to remind her to breathe. Until she meets a boy with a bad reputation who sparks something in her—Caleb 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 death—and maybe, for love?
I've been reading Elizabeth Scott novels for over five years now and Heartbeat, along with Living Dead Girl, is her most powerful book yet. It's short and straight to the point, as well as thought-provoking like always. I've come to expect nothing less from this author - she's never been afraid to write about difficult, controversial subjects, and that's what makes her books stand out so much. In short, they're brilliant must-reads.
Heartbeat is about Emma, a girl whose mother has died while pregnant and is being kept alive by machines so the baby can be born. Emma's stepdad made the decision without her, and now she has to see her mum every day even though she's not really there and her body is just a shell, an incubator for the tiny life still growing inside her. Emma hates her stepdad, she's grieving and doesn't yet have any closure thanks to the machines and wires and beeping. Her mum's life is over, but her body is a painful reminder of what was and what's been lost.
This book might sound depressing, sad, even horrible. It's not a nice story, I'll give you that, but it's beautifully told and is obviously something that can and does happen, albeit rarely. Emma's story is told with respect and grace, and never once does it become more than it should. It's not a lesson in ethics or right and wrong, it's simply a glimpse into a seventeen-year-old girl's life and the most difficult time she'll ever have to face.
Heartbeat made me think, it made me appreciate time and family and made me realise that every minute is precious. It made me see the importance of relationships, both platonic and romantic, and it made me understand that no matter the situation, there is always good to be found hiding somewhere, whether it be in the form of fixing a broken family bond or meeting the love of your life. Emma experiences both of these, like a rainbow left in a rainstorm's wake. She's lost her mum but she's gained so much more, and that's the beauty of this book. Life goes on, hearts will continue to beat, and there is always life after death. Even if you don't think there will be.