Friday, January 10, 2014

ARC Review: Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Goodreads summary:

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?

My review:

I really loved this book except for one big thing: the main character, Emma.  Aside from her, I loved the sweet message about family this book sends, as well as the flowing writing style and gripping storyline.

This book deals with a difficult subject: Emma's mother is brain-dead but still kept alive by machines since she's pregnant.  Emma struggles with this fact throughout the book and is angry at her stepfather for not letting her mother die peacefully.  I certainly felt sympathetic towards Emma's plight, and my heart broke for her multiple times, but at the same time I couldn't understand how Emma wouldn't want her baby brother to have a chance to live.  Her stepdad sums it up perfectly when he say, "Your brother is fighting for his life, and you talk about him like he's not real."  It would've been easier to like Emma if she was slightly more emotional.  She's too selfish, and doesn't understand that her stepdad is grieving too.  She was bitter and angry at him for far too long, but I did grow to like Emma eventually. 

This book was a very fast read for me, and yet it still manages to be full of depth.  This is not an ordinary contemporary - it's raw and gritty.  The minor characters really make this book - such as Emma's best friend, who refuses to use most electronics because her parents work in the electronic industry and are so busy they spend much of their time ignoring her.  And Caleb, the love interest, is very sweet and I love the way he helps Emma learn to be happy again.  Like her, he's suffered, and he understands her pain in a way that no one else does.  I didn't completely love the romance for some reason, but it was a nice touch and never overtook the storyline.

Although I had a hard time caring about Emma, I still enjoyed Heartbeat.  It was a heartbreaking story that teaches the importance of family, and I liked Emma's journey from numbness and pain to slowly becoming part of the world again, or, as the summary says, "feeling her own heart beat again."  Heartbeat is a thoughtful contemporary story you won't want to miss out on.

*I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!

My rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn


  1. I haven't posted my review yet, but I really connected with Emma, especially with the hate she felt. I don't think it's the fact that she didn't want her brother, or resented him because by the end, you saw that. I think it's more to do with the fact that her stepdad didn't ask her, you know? It's her mother, her direct bloodline and she didn't get a choice or even a conversation, and the fact that she didn't really get to grieve for her mother, because she was still seeing her everyday, made it like she wasn't really dead. I sure as hell wouldn't be able to do that, not being able to would kill you, and I guess that's why Emma was the way she was. I completely loved the story, and it is raw, but it's a beautiful one. Great review. :)

    1. From most of the reviews I've read, people seem to either love or hate Emma. Ahh, I see what you mean about her stepdad not giving her a choice, though. That's definitely understandable and very true. But for me, it was more than that...I wished Emma had at least tried to understand his pain too, or felt some concern for her baby brother. I can see why you love her, though, she is very tough. Thank you for taking the time to comment. :)

  2. I agree with you about Emma! I kept waiting for the moment when I would finally connect with her, but it never came, and she seemed very whiny and childish to me. I knew she was going through a hard experience that I could never begin to understand, and I don't mean to criticize someone's method of dealing with her grief, but it seemed as if she wasn't even trying to work through it. I understand where Kirsty-Marie is coming from, though - I too would have been mad if my stepdad didn't even consult me about such an important issue. And I do think the author did a good job of portraying Emma's regret about putting so much time into her schoolwork. As a serious student, I related to that storyline and felt compelled to consider the ways I spend my time and what is really important.

    Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed Heartbeat despite your problems with it, and I hope you enjoy any other books you end up reading by this author!

    1. Exactly! At first I thought that maybe the reason I couldn't connect with Emma is because I've never had to suffer an experience like that, but she did whine too much and treated her stepdad horribly. I'm totally with you on the schoolwork issue, too. I've always studied hard and that aspect of the story made me think as well. Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Emily!

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