I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott
Published by Harlequin Teen on January 28th 2014
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?
This is the most important aspect of this book, that and how people deal with it in their own way. Or more specifically, how Emma tries to deal with it.
Lets start with telling you that this is a heavy book to read. Because really, how can you say goodbye to someone who physically is still there? That is exactly the dilemma that Emma deals with. Her mother is brain dead, but her body is being kept alive for the baby still growing inside of her. Emma loved her mother very much and her sudden dead left her world spinning and in a way she can’t say goodbye to her mother because in a way she is still there.
A decision made by her Stepfather, Dan, that left her absolutely furious at him. He didn’t talk with her before making that choice and as a result she resents him for that choice. I was really confused by her hatred for him, because although she has to go through seeing her dead mother every day, doesn’t she want her little brother to live? It became more understandable for me throughout reading this book. Clouded by her grief she remembers her mothers fear and mistakenly links it to her death. She literally believes that her mother was scared of being pregnant and somehow realizing that her pregnancy would kill her eventually. While in fact her mother was scared of losing the life growing inside of her. Emma loathes her stepfather for making the choice to use her mothers body as an incubator for the very thing that scared her so much and believes that her mother wouldn’t have wanted that. I was torn apart reading this part, because I understood and related to both Emma and Dan.
When Emma meets Caleb, she unexpectedly connects with him. Meeting Caleb offered her the first step in dealing with her grief. Caleb who has lost his baby sister Millie and still blames himself for her death. On the outside Caleb appears to be the typical bad boy, into drugs and stealing cars, but really he is somebody who has taken on far more guilt than he should have to bear alone. They are both lost and somehow together they manage to find a way to deal with their grief and take that step forward.
It is because of their relationship that Emma manages to -in a way- come to terms with what is happening to her mothers body. She realises that she wants the life growing inside her mothers body. And even more importantly she realizes that her mother wasn’t afraid of dying, but afraid of losing her unborn son.
Elizabeth Scot really knows how to write compelling characters, she managed to describe the grieving process through Emma’s anger, her confusion, and anguish. She doesn’t sugar-coat the situation and she manages to get across what grief can cause, and what -if you can’t come to terms with it- it can make you do.
This book is takes you on a turbulent ride and I am not ashamed to admit that there were quite some tears shed. The book ends with Emma admitting that she’s nowhere near over the loss and anger caused by her mothers dead, but with Caleb along her side she can now envision a future for herself again and start healing.