Review: My Beating Teenage Heart

Review: My Beating Teenage HeartMy Beating Teenage Heart by C.K. Kelly Martin
Published by Random House BFYR on September 27, 2011
Genres: Contemporary, Paranormal
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

Ashlyn Baptiste is falling. One moment she was nothing—no memories, no self—and then suddenly, she's plummeting through a sea of stars. Is she in a coma? She doesn't remember dying, and she has no memories of the life she left behind. All she knows is that she's trapped in a consciousness without a body and she's spending every moment watching a stranger.

Breckon Cody's on the edge. He's being ripped apart by grief so intense it literally hurts to breathe. On the surface, Breckon is trying to hold it together for his family and his girlfriend, but underneath he's barely hanging on.

Even though she didn't know him in life, Ashlyn sees Breckon's pain, and she's determined to find a way help him. As her own distressing memories emerge from the darkness, she struggles to communicate with the boy who can't see her, but whose life is suddenly intertwined with hers. In alternating voices of the main characters, My Beating Teenage Heart paints a devastatingly vivid picture of both the heartbreak and the promise of teenage life—a life Ashlyn would do anything to recover and Breckon seems desperate to destroy—and will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen, John Green, and David Levithan.

First Sentence: “The first moment is utter darkness.”

One of my favorite bloggers, even though she doesn’t blog much anymore, is Presenting Lenore. She’s helping to host a twitter book club, the aim of which is to read books that are amazing but do not have nearly enough buzz. This is the first selection. Well, it definitely isn’t well known enough, since I totally thought Yesterday was going to be Martin’s debut. Apparently, she’s written four books before that one.

The opening of My Beating Teenage Heart is quit alarming. You’re thrown into some weird dream-state type thing with the heroine whose name you don’t yet know. It’s odd and mystical and it’s hard to tell whether anything is real or a dream or what. Actually, the book continues to be this way. Ashlyn learns a bit about herself, but what she figures out results in more questions than answers. Breckon (we also get some chapters from his perspective) is mired in depression.

For me, this is one of those books where how much I likes it depended entirely on the explanation of what’s going on. The writing is decent, but didn’t especially resonate with me. The characters are both so whacked out on grief or confusion that I had trouble connecting to them. The plot is so strange, requiring some serious suspension of disbelief, but, if she pulled it off with the ending, it could definitely make the book epic.

Without a doubt, I can honestly say that My Beating Teenage Heart is unlike any YA book I’ve read before. It picks up steam very slowly, but, by the end, I was definitely engaged. For the first hundred or so pages, the melodrama of the narration irritated me, especially given the fogginess of Ashlyn’s memory. Plus, she made so many assumptions that seemed strange to me.

Anyway, having now finished the book, I’m still not sure how I feel about it. On some levels, it was definitely really cool and thought provoking, and I’m certainly glad to have read it, but there were also aspects with which I did not reconcile. My main issue with the book I can’t express to clearly without risking spoilers, but, basically, I do not get why Ashlyn’s memory would ever work that way. However, on the plus side again, Martin can write the heck out of a steamy scene.

Looking at those labels at the bottom of the post, you might notice that they’re not super happy times themes. Nor is the book at all light and fluffy. At all. Recommended to fans of Ilsa J. Bick and Laurie Halse Anderson. Although I didn’t love this, I am now definitely looking forward to reading Yesterday more than I was before.

Favorite Quote:

“I’m talking to myself in two different personas now. I’m reaching for a full-throttle meltdown and why not? Why stop halfway? Why not just go for it, jump on and ride the wave?”

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