by Elizabeth Scott
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Expected publication: January 28th 2014 by Harlequin Teen
Format Acquired: ARC from publisher via Edelweiss
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
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?
I honestly tried to like this book. I did. I know a lot of readers enjoyed this and even gave it a high rating but reading chapter after chapter of the same thing, I gave up. I thought that maybe something near the end would bump up my rating to 2 stars but I found none, unfortunately. Even if I didn't like Heartbeat to the point where I wrote several angry notes in my Kindle, I will do my best to explain why in a constructive manner.
The thing is I like the theme of the book but the writing made it hard for me to connect with the story. Emma is grieving the loss of her mother who's kept alive by machines for the sake of saving her unborn child. I understood the pain she's going through and why she's always so angry and mean. Grief changes people and it's different for everyone. My problem is, for 90% of the book, that's all that happened - Emma being angry and mean. Everything felt so repetitive that by the time the story was coming to some sort of resolution, a chunk of the book felt pointless.
Emma goes to the hospital with Dan, her stepfather.
On the car ride back, Dan attempts to have a conversation.
Emma says something mean and storms off, locks herself in her room.
Goes to school but doesn't really go to school.
Talks to Olivia and/or mopes.
Goes back to the hospital with Dan.
More than the repetitive scenes, I didn't like the long inner monologues that basically conveyed the same ideas over and over again:
She hates that Dan didn't ask her before putting her mom on life support
Dan doesn't love her mom like she does
Dan only loves the baby
The baby is an it and not a he
Her mom didn't really want the baby and she was so scared
She hates Dan
It's depressing. Really depressing. In fact, it's so depressing that it took me a while to finish the book. There was too much hatred that the romance didn't really make sense to me. It felt forced. Caleb was the only one that made the slightest bit of difference in Emma's routine. It's great that she had a different outlet but there was just too much of the same Dan/baby/mom drama for the romance to take off smoothly. When Emma finally came to her senses, it happened so fast that it didn't feel convincing. All the hate can't suddenly disappear like that. Or almost. Emma still had a lot of issues to work out in the end but at least she was beginning to pick herself up. I just wish the character development happened earlier and slowly. The change would've probably felt more authentic. And the book might've been less tiring to read.