Book Review: Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Book Review: Heartbeat by Elizabeth ScottHeartbeat by Elizabeth Scott
Published by Harlequin Teen on January 28, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 244
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Does life go on when your heart is broken?

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 admit, Young Adult contemporary isn’t my favorite genre, especially this “I’m perpetually depressed, no one understands me” type. But I really hated this one. I skimmed the last 100 pages (it’s only 250 pages long) just so that I could say I’d ‘finished’ it.

So the premise is just depressing, right out of the gate. Emma’s mom, who remarried after her first husband died, is trying to have a baby after 40, and surprise! there are complications. Like, death causing ones (although apparently the cause of death didn’t have to do with the pregnancy). Dan, Emma’s stepdad opts to keep Emma’s brain dead mom on life support until the baby can be delivered. The only person who seems to understand what Emma is going through is known druggie/car thief/all around bad boy Caleb, whose little sister died a few years ago. So yeah, this is a bleak story. I can see where all the feelings of anger, depression, etc. come from.

Almost everyone in this book is supremely unlikable. Except maybe Emma’s mom, who is dead when the book starts. And maybe Caleb, though his character was incongruent to me. But I’m not sure I have ever loathed a protagonist as much as I loathed Emma. Every chapter was the same old Emma complaining or being depressed or ignoring Dan or telling Dan what a horrible person he is or hating Dan or hating Dan some more.

I’m not saying it’s bad that Emma was depressed; just reading this book made me think about how I would feel if my mom died, and I got second hand depression. But STILL. I got so sick of the conversation with Dan about how he doesn’t understand or how much she hates him or that he didn’t love her mother because he chose to try to save the baby. This probably irritated me the most: SORRY NOT SORRY THAT I DECIDED TO TRY TO SAVE ONE OF THE PEOPLE WHO COULD HAVE DIED HERE.

Her continual outrage about the fact that Dan decided to save the baby (which had the side effect of keeping her brain dead mother alive by machine) was sort of disgusting to me.

I guess the romance between Caleb and Emma was sweet, but I hated Emma so much that I wanted Caleb to go find someone better. It wasn’t a very compelling relationship, though I feel like it was supposed to be deeply compelling. Like, I’m really glad they found each other and brought happiness back into each others lives…but I just didn’t really care at that point. I’m surprised Olivia, Emma’s best friend, stuck with her, though I suppose I’m glad she did, since no one should go through something like that alone. Olivia was ok, though not terribly interesting.

If this book speaks to people who have dealt with depression, then that’s great; I’ve never had to deal with anything like that (which I totally understand is a huge blessing) and so I’m not trying to offend anyone who has. The writing is fine, obviously Scott is a seasoned author, but these characters just rubbed me the wrong way. Anyone who likes serious hurt/tortured souls dealing with serious premises might like this book.

1 Stars


  1. Olivia says:

    I hadn’t heard of this book before, but I doubt I am going to be reading it now at all. I hate when books are such downers as well, but characters are what either make or a break a book for me so knowing that this one has such uninteresting or annoying characters is a HUGE turn off.

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