Reviewing quality young adult literature since 2009. Anything that's anyone else's is theirs -- books, memes, etc. Spammers, go die in a hole. : ) Due to time constraints, I don't do awards. Also, I like Community. http://twitter.com/reprisal41
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Saturday, July 17, 2010
Ellen loves Link and James. Her older brother and his best friend are the only company she ever wants. She knows they fight, but she makes it a policy never to take sides. She loves her brother, the math genius and track star. She is totally, madly in love with James, his face full of long eyelashes and hidden smiles. "When you grow out of it," James teases her, "you will break my heart." Ellen knows she"ll never outgrow it. She'll always love James just the way she"ll always love Link. Then someone at school asks if Link and James might be in love with each other. A simple question. Link refuses to discuss it. James refuses to stay friends with a boy so full of secrets. Ellen"s parents want Link to keep his secrets to himself, but Ellen wants to know who her brother really is. When is curiosity a betrayal? And if James says he loves her, isn't that just another way of saying he still loves Link? My Heartbeat is a fast, furious story in which a quirky triangle learns to change its shape and Ellen, at least, learns the limits of what you can ever know about whom you love.
My Heartbeat has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the, ah, least best books I read this year. Make no mistake--it is somewhat well-written. Freymann-Weyr is quite talented and I thoroughly enjoyed two of her other books: The Kings are Already Here and When I Was Older. My Heartbeat was a book I had very high expectations for (it is a Printz Honor book after all). Unfortunately, I just couldn't properly connect with it, plus a plethora of other things. The three parts:
1) It was boring. I felt much of the book lacked substance and Freymann-Weyr just didn't make me care about the characters--the exception being the scene with the bribe: it was the one truly amazing scene in the whole book!--so that when the book eventually wound down to its (weak) climax and conclusion I was relieved.
2) The characters spoke unrealistically. Ellen thought like a 34-year-old for much of the book; sometimes when used sparingly this effect works (I've only seen it done once and that was a stretch) but not here. James, Link, Ellen, even the parents were unrealistic. Some minor characters like Adena and Polly seemed realistic but also flat, 2-D and pretty much...bleh.
The whole book was 'bleh,' really.
3) The sex was completely unneccessary. Just saying. I mean, it just . . . didn't add much to the book.
Verdict? My Heartbeat could've been really good. There were a few passages that were truly well-written. But ultimately, the book just dragged. On and on and on and on. And when you can say that about a 154-page book, that's a whole new kind of sad.
IF YOU LIKED THIS...
Well, then you're obviously not me. In all seriousness, I would heartily recommend the other books by this author I've read (When I Was Older and The Kings are Already Here) whether you liked this book or not. Both are excellent books.
NEW RUBRIC! Writing: 7/10 MC: 3/10
Other Characters: 4/10 Plot: 5/10
Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Cover? 1 out of 5 - I'm just going to say it outright: THIS COVER SCARES ME.