Published by Harlequin Teen on 28 January 2014
Genres: Contemporary (No Romance Focus), Young Adult
Source: Book Expo (BEA-ALA-et al)
Place(s) Traveled To: Unknown, USA
First Line(s): I sit down with my mother. My smile shaky as I tell her about my day.
***This review contains some spoilers so please read at your own risk***
Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott is a book that I really wanted to love as I usually adore all things Elizabeth Scott. I just love Scott’s writing and the way that she can deal with some difficult issues. In Heartbeat, Scott takes on the complexities of life, death and blended families and sometimes I think she tried to do a little too much. First, there is the fact that Emma is dealing with the fact that her mother is dead and yet not dead in the sense that she’s being kept alive because she is pregnant. This leads to much stress and angst between her and her stepfather whom she used to be very close to. Add to that a potential new romance and my head is near spinning with all that is going on.
And while there is a lot going on in the story for the most part all the issues just stay on the surface. Emma runs around being an angsty teenager harping on everything and just being a royal B#$&* to the person she loved as a father and who loved her just as much in return. I think that Dan does a remarkable job dealing with Emma even if I also felt he was just a bit too passive and accepting of it. I think that he should have called her on her bullshit a lot earlier than he did. Just as I think that Emma should have been more upfront with what was really going on in her head. But then, at the same time she was every bit the teenage girl and so while Emma often bugged the crap out of me she was real.
I also liked Emma’s BFF Olivia. She was a genuine person and no matter what crap Emma pulled she was always there for her. Which helped Emma in that she was never bad to Olivia. Olivia is quirky and bubbly and in some ways reminded me of Mallory from Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt. I did have a love hate relationship though with how Emma compartmentalized her life in that she never discussed anything real with Olivia. If there was one thing that Emma excelled at in this book it was that she was great at avoiding issues. She refused to talk about anything and so the thoughts in her head just spun and spun and spun around until she near drove me mad with them.
The saving grace of Heartbeat came from Caleb, the cliched bad boy love interest. There is much typical YA love interest to be seen in Caleb and yet despite his cookie cutter mold I liked him. I liked how he made Emma see that there was more to life than just dwelling on what was. I liked that he showed her that she wasn’t alone in her thoughts and situation. That is always such a big part of overcoming anything traumatic because it helps to see that others are coping and even moving forward which means that you can too. Both Caleb and Emma really needed to find each other and so that I am glad that they did for together they can help mend the cracks even if they can’t remove them all together.
Heartbeat isn’t my favorite Elizabeth Scott novel as I just wanted more. I wished that she’d gone a little deeper in the issues she was exploring and I wish that there was real change in Emma. Her turn around from angtsy teen to full on happy(ish) and accepting girl was just so quick. So blink of the eye and there was nothing really to back it up other than a few random meetings with Caleb and one heart-to-heart with Dan. I wish there had been something more real used to help in her transformation, like regular visits to a therapist, or something that would make it be more real. Despite its flaws this is a book that I would recommend to some of my friends and I look forward to the next book that Elizabeth Scott write.