Monday, January 20, 2014

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott
Release Date – January 28, 2014
Publisher Website – HarlequinTeen
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 304 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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?
Everyone deals with grief differently. We all cope with it in vastly different ways. Heartbeat is an examination in the different ways grief can consume us, mend us, and sometimes drown us. It's an honest, if slow moving, story of love, loss, and guilt and how interconnected they can be.

Grief is shown in many different ways in this novel. The anger, sadness, and hopelessness that can often accompany grief are reflected in Emma. We also see how grief can break apart a family, but also how it can help mend. Shared grief has the power to bring people together, but it also has the power to drive a wedge between them. Grief often goes hand in hand with guilt, and that is portrayed wonderfully in many of the characters in this novel.

Emma is an angry young woman. She is trying to deal with her mother's death and yet is stuck in a cycle of never ending grief. The heartbreak of being able to hold her mother's hand, and yet never feel her squeeze back is crushing. It makes it seem fresh every time Emma goes to visit her. You feel it in every word Elizabeth Scott writes. It leads to a deep resentment, and an immeasurable amount of guilt. As a reader, I understood Emma's motivations, so even if I could not relate to her, I could understand her. It allowed for a different perspective than what I would have, but one that felt honest and true for the character.

The hot topic of life support being used to save a baby is dealt with rather well in this novel. I felt a clear picture of both sides of the argument was provided. Emma's anger becomes understandable as we learn what exactly her mother's body is going through. We see more clearly her anger at not just her step-father but the baby itself. The other side, the one where the infant is an innocent party in this, and deserves a chance, is also shown to heartbreaking effect. It's not an easy decision, and the most important thing this novel stresses is how essential communication is. The conflicting emotions presented in the novel allow the reader to ponder what they would do, while never taking a stance. In the end, the right thing to do isn't back and white. As a result, this book will easily provide lively conversation among readers.

The romance does sort of take over the novel. It's the other half of the coin though. It's what Emma escapes to. Having someone like Caleb who isn't part of the most devastating thing that has happened to her allows her to breath. Caleb has his own issues to deal with, but they do help each other. They offer support, and lean on one another. Caleb's own grief and guilt, while different than Emma's own, offers a mirror for Emma (and vice versa).

A story of being stuck in grief, and the bittersweet hope of finding your way out of it. There is plenty to enjoy in this novel, but I did want a little more from it. Those who love contemporary novels will most likely devour it, and there is no denying has an emotional impact.

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