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Emma’s mother is going to have a baby. It should be pretty exciting to have a baby brother or sister, but Emma doesn’t feel happy at all. Life has gotten so complicated and so ugly. Things used to be one way and now they are very different. Her stepfather used to be cool, caring and fun --- now he isn’t. Her mother used to be alive --- now she’s dead and still going to have a baby. How did the world turn so upside down?

It’s hard to be a teenager no matter what, but to lay this situation at your feet is more than Emma can handle. How can a girl lose her mother but not completely lose her? Emma visits her mom in the hospital where she sees the tubes pumping through her body and she is sickened by it all. Surely her mother would never have wanted this --- to be kept alive by a machine. No one cared enough to ask Emma about any of this. Dan, her stepdad, just made the decision that the baby had to have a chance. He never consulted her, not for a minute. All he cares about is the baby. Well, whatever happens now, Emma doesn’t care. She doesn’t want to see her mother like this, she hates her stepfather, she doesn’t care about the baby, she doesn’t care about school and she doesn’t even care about herself. Please let all this be over but the nightmare goes on and on.

Scott does not back away from controversial issues or characters with flaws --- she sets her scenes with sensitivity and power.

Caleb is the bad boy out. He does drugs, he steals cars and he is self-destructive. What can you do when you are personally responsible for killing your little sister, Minnie? Life just doesn’t go on. His parents hate him and he hates himself. If his dad didn’t have money, Caleb would be in jail. His dad cares about his career more than Caleb, and his mom has frozen him out.

All of these things in their strange way lead Caleb and Emma into a relationship.  She feels that somehow this boy listens to her and understands. She doesn’t care that he’s considered dangerous and a bad influence. Caleb, slow to acknowledge Emma, gradually begins to trust her. If they can help each other, perhaps the rest of the world can keep going. Is that even possible? Their hurts go deep and there is an ocean of misunderstanding that could set things off at any moment.

Elizabeth Scott has once more tackled a complex situation.  Like Jodi Picoult’s adult books, Scott does not back away from controversial issues or characters with flaws --- she sets her scenes with sensitivity and power. HEARTBEAT keeps the reader in the story until the last page, and it will raise questions and resonate with readers long afterwards.

Reviewed by Sally Tibbetts on February 10, 2015

by Elizabeth Scott

  • Publication Date: January 28, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction, Romance, Young Adult 14+
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin Teen
  • ISBN-10: 0373210965
  • ISBN-13: 9780373210961