Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.
Bloggiesta has started because it’s already Friday in our part of the world. I thought I’d start the weekend with a review. My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr is a book that comes highly recommended by Angie of Angieville. She mentioned it as one of her contemporary YA favorites when she did a We Love YA post here on the blog. Since Angie has excellent taste when it comes to books, I decided to give this one a try. And since it’s not very well-known, I thought I should do a Retro Friday review of it.
Here’s the summary at the back of the book:
Ellen loves Link and James. Her older brother and his best friend are the only company she ever wants. She knows they fight, but she makes it a policy never to take sides. She loves her brother, the math genius and track star. She is totally, madly in love with James, his long eyelashes and hidden smiles. “When you grow out of it,” James teases her, “you will break my heart.”
Then someone at school asks if Link and James might be in love with each other. A simple question. But the answer is far from simple, and its repercussions affect their entire lives.
Would you look at that cover? I seriously have no idea what’s going on with that design. It’s like someone got excited with clip arts and decided to use that instead of looking for better options. The cover is probably one of the reasons why only a handful of people have read this book, which is a shame because it’s such a good read. It only has 160 pages so I was able to finish it in one sitting but I’m amazed at the insightful and weighty issues discussed in those few pages. My Heartbeat deals with different kinds of relationships – platonic, romantic and family relationships – and all the confusion and complications that come with those. Sexual identity is also a big topic in this one. Ellen’s two favorite people in the world are her brother Link and his best friend, James. She loves spending time with both of them and although she understands that she doesn’t know everything about them, she doesn’t really mind. Everything changes when Ellen goes to high school with them and discovers that other people view James and Link’s relationship differently.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this slim novel because it tackles topics that aren’t usually discussed in contemporary YA novels. Ellen strives to learn and understand so much in just a short span of time. She’s very naive and innocent at the start of the novel and as the story progresses, she learns to see so many different things. I remember being Ellen’s age and how I was filled with wonder at the things that I learned and discovered. Aside from the cover, the title isn’t very encouraging either, is it? So here’s an explanation of what the heartbeat is all about:
“Not that there’s anything wrong with geeky,” Link says before Dad has a chance to. Geeky is one of Dad’s favorite words, and I listen with glee to my brother’s imitation of our father: “Geeky people often have that which is most valuable in this life.” Link pauses here for effect, so that James and I can join in, shouting Dad’s favorite phrase, “A mind with its own heartbeat.”
I love that line, a mind with its own heartbeat, makes me wonder what my mind is beating for. I hope that’s enough proof to convince you to read this unique novel if you haven’t read it yet because it has all sorts of goodness inside.