by C K Kelly Martin
Random House BFYR, September 2011
contemporary young adult
Ashlyn is suspended—metaphorically and literally. She has no substance; she’s attached to a boy named Breckon Cody with no memories of her own, watching as this boy falls to pieces, watching as he destroys the life she longs to regain for reasons more serious than anyone could know… reasons as dire as the cause of her own death.The cover:
The font—oh, I dig it. The red is a lovely contrast against the image’s neutral grayness, and of course the hand-formed heart is a picturesque representation of the title and book. However, it would’ve been nice if the body were a little more distinct. Otherwise, it looks like a smog of nothingness with arms coming from nowhere.
If I were to describe the atmosphere, tone and mood of this book in one colour, it would be gray. With plenty of time spent in introspection, flashbacks and ponderings in general, this books is nowhere near suffused with colour. That doesn’t make it bad; in fact, one could say the navel-gazing is necessary, as it provides the only counterbalance against the waves of negativity Breckon seems to produce automatically with his actions.
Ah, Breckon. It’s not hard to see where he’s coming from, as guilt is one of the most common emotions experienced after a tragedy of any sort. His decisions are therefore made slightly more palatable, but only to the extent that the reader will tolerate him, never truly rooting for him as a hero. Ashlyn is a much lovelier gal to hang out with as she tries to navigate Breckon onto better roads. However, her chronicle is almost more depressing than his. The injustice of her death keeps the story from being fully satisfying, leaving a saddened, helpless feeling behind.
The mechanics of Ashlyn’s caught-between-life-and-death floatation powers aren’t fully explained, something to be expected from this novel classified as contemporary. However, while we might be willing to accept Ashlyn’s existence, another character’s floatational (okay, that’s not a word) entry is just plain boggling. Not to mention it makes the ending that much cheesier. But My Beating Teenage Heart is pretty enough in its soul-searching and meditation aspects to warrant a read. With its shorter length, it won’t be a waste of time.
Rating: 3.3 out of 5