The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
Published by Macmillan on November 3rd 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci's footsteps, she's ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital's Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.
Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is-and tries to uncover what he's hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix's own family's closet tear them apart?
“Those dark eyelashes should be illegal.”
I know why many people like this book, I really do. It’s the same reason I kept wanting to bump my rating up as I was reading. The Anatomical Shape of a Heart (or Night Owls in the UK edition and, in my opinion, as it should have been called everywhere) is an extremely diverse book in all senses, it has a very sex-positive message and portrays sex in an open and honest way.
Politically, this book and I are on the exact same page. I like the stuff it stands for. Bravo. And yet I feel the same way as I felt about Dumplin’ – a few important messages aside, the characters, the plot and the romance are just not particularly memorable.
The main characters are a quirky art girl – Beatrix Adams – and a drop-dead gorgeous (and rich) graffiti artist. I lost count of how many times we are told how beautiful Jack is. It is the first thing we are told about him and the first thing we are always reminded of every time Beatrix sees him. It got a little tiring.
“He had large boy hands, all sinewy and latticed with faint blue veins, and long, slender fingers. More beautiful bones. I desperately wanted to trace my fingers over them—which was insane. And stupid.”
His perfections and his part to play in Beatrix’s life were all a bit manic pixie dreamboy-ish for my tastes. The author tries to introduce a back story to him and make him more complex than your average gorgeous rich boy, I’ll give her that, and yet the “mystery” behind him is not very interesting. Mysteries should demand that you solve them and this one doesn’t.
Jack is mostly there to propel Bex in new directions, encourage and enable her talents, and offer new perspectives to her.
I just think this book doesn’t have enough tension for a teen romance. There is very little drama, no obstacles, realistic conflicts, or questions to be answered. It all runs a little too smooth to be compelling. Bex and Jack like each other as soon as they set eyes on one another, they are drawn to each other straight away and are happily in love by the halfway point.
The “conflicts” of the novel, if you can call them that, revolve around family issues that are honestly uninteresting because the secondary characters are not very well-developed. It was hard to care about Bex’s absent father or any of Jack’s family.
I’m glad for the frank discussions about sex and the message that you are not defined by how many people you’ve slept with:
“Would it have been an issue if it was four guys?” After all, I’d known plenty of guys our age who’d slept with twice as many girls. Double standards were the worst.
But, sadly, these are not enough on their own. It’s great that we’re starting to see more YA books promoting healthy attitudes towards sex. I’m just still waiting for some really good ones.
I'm Emily May - a twenty-something year old book blogger from the North of England. Currently going wherever the wind or the storyline takes me. Find me on Goodreads
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