NOTE: I received the eARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. Thanks!
I wasn't exactly sure where this novel will take me when I began reading it. I guess that's true of any new books that we haven't read before though. But I was definitely not expecting to find such a great story, raw with emotion, deep with meaning and impossible to put down. I literally devoured this one. It took me soaring up high, high - then it plunged me so low, I thought I might break my neck.
The truth is, this isn't a light, easy read. It's really not. It's intense. It's full with pain, loss and grief. It's incredibly realistic, to the point where I wanted to yell at the characters for making me experience everything that they were going through. It was an immense roller coaster no matter how you look at it.
So, Heartbeat is literally and figuratively a story about the beat of a heart. As in, that being the only thing keeping a person alive. As in, Emma's mom died, but was pregnant, and her husband kept her artificially alive so he could save the baby. Was this right or wrong of him? Was he selfish to want a baby, while only keeping a woman's shell of a body alive? Was it fair to Emma, or to the person who is no longer among the living?
Lots of hard core questions are discussed here and to be honest, I had a bit of a brain-racket going on as well. I mean, what do you think? The least of things to say is... "that's such a weird situation". I agree, and I'm not sure what I think is the right course of action either. Perhaps, even though the mom is dead, the baby should be given a chance to live? Who knows, really, what's right and wrong? Who could be the judge?
Anyway, all of that leaves Emma and her step-father (I don't remember his name) at odds. I can't imagine why (I'm being sarcastic here, in case you didn't notice). As a result, the loving family they once had (mom and future baby included) is now broken. It's broken by a heartbeat and it's also held together by it.
I don't think that Emma would've ever diligently analyzed the situation from an objective point of view, had it not been for Caleb, who had been through a lot himself. He'd lost his little sister in a car accident, for which he blames himself. Oddly enough, his parents blame him too, and at this age when he should be living his life, he is instead grieving, feeling guilt that can sink a man, and is uselessly searching for some attention from his parents. Needless to say, he got himself in lots of trouble just so he could get his mind off of his guilt.
It's Caleb though, who makes the huge difference in Emma's life. He's the one who opens her eyes to see that her point of view is just one side of the story. And her step-dad's is another, which is equally right. He gave her strength, he helped her grieve, he held her when she cried. He was simply there.
And the feelings that developed between them... they were incredible. It happened slow, and purposeful and it was simply enchanting. In their separate lives, with their separate situations, these two young adults finally found peace in each other. And that peace helped them see the world for what it truly was. With the beautiful and ugly and everything else in between.
In conclusion, I can only say that Elizabeth Scott has managed to make Heartbeat incredibly emotional, deep and unputdownable. I'm glad I read it, because it was worth the shot.
My rating is 5/5 stars