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?
The concept behind Heartbeat is certainly a controversial one: Emma’s mother is brain dead, and being kept alive by machines for the sole purpose of carrying her unborn child to term. The ethical implications behind it piqued my interest and caused me to request a review copy, however I wasn’t expecting this story to be quite as emotionally taxing as it was.
Emma, our protagonist, is incredibly easy to sympathize with. While I was initially deterred by her anger, selfishness, and resentment – especially in regards to her behaviour towards her stepfather – I definitely understood where she was coming from. In a lot of cases, it’s easier to be angry than it is to be sad, and channeling all of your sadness into anger can make you feel better, if even for a little bit.
While the main focus of the story was a grieving, broken family that was struggling to find closure, there was also a romantic element. Emma and Caleb were both damaged enough to need the other person to be their support system — and this mutual understanding of one another’s situations not only helped them to better understand their own pain, but it also helped them to heal.
Overall, Heartbeat is a thought-provoking and poignant look at what it means to be alive and what it means to love.
I received a copy of this book from Harlequin Teen and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.