Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott
Published: January 28, 2014 by Harlequin Teen
Source: Borrowed from a friend
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? [goodreads]
Elizabeth Scott delivers a very emotional, heavy dose with her latest young adult novel. Grief on its own is a tough pill to swallow, especially for Emma who refuses to accept the reality of what her world has become. One morning her pregnant mother was alive, reaching out for toast, and moments later she is dead. The decision to keep her mother's body alive on machines in order for the baby to continue to grow and have a chance at survival comes from Emma's stepfather. That decision is what spins Emma's world into a chaotic depression. She feels that she never had a say in what her mother's wishes were. But who honestly knows what her mother would have wanted when those who loved her most can't see past their own grief.
There were elements in this novel that kept me on the fence through most of it, never quite allowing myself to fully be immersed in the world Elizabeth Scott was writing. I struggled a lot with Emma's character and the way she dealt with her grief. I've been through those stages, so I understand how difficult it can be to transition out of the anger and guilt phase. But I was also a few years older than her. The way she placed blame on her stepfather really tugged at my heart. I knew deep down she understood it wasn't truly his fault, but she had to come to terms with that in her own time. And so I waited, patiently.
The idea that Emma went to her dead mother's bedside day after day, to witness the growth of her baby brother inside her mother's stomach, ripped my heart out. I cannot imagine having to endure a pain like that. The prolonging of such a difficult goodbye wears Emma down. But then she sees Caleb, a boy from school who has his own troubled past, still fighting his own personal demons. I knew immediately where this storyline was headed. I get that it's meant to show Emma that among grief, one can find hope again. And it's true, it can happen. But I felt that their relationship was a bit too over the top in parts.
Overall this story delivers an emotional punch that fans of heavy YA contemporary will enjoy. For me, there were more negatives than positives that stood out, which didn't allow me to fully connect to the story as I had hoped to. Elizabeth Scott has a blacklist of superb novels, so I know this one will not stray me from reading her again.