“As the daughter of a successful Major League pitcher, Charlie Hastings has baseball in her blood.” This first line of the blurb says it all. Charlie is a catcher, top in her league as her team enters the playoffs. She’s happy with this life, but as a senior in high school, she knows the likelihood of playing in college is low. Baseball is a boys’ sport. She isn’t bitter about it, she accepts it. But she is now having a bit of an identity crisis. She’s always been just one of the boys, her three best friends are boys, and they treat her like a boy, not a girl. But Charlie is a girl, she just doesn’t have anyone to show her the girly things in life. When her secret crush on her best friend is (for lack of a better word) crushed, she’s ready to throw in the towel. Then enters the team captain Jace King.
Jace isn’t like Charlie’s friends. He’s kind and empathetic. As the older brother of four sisters (I think that’s the right number), he gets girls and understands Charlie’s dilemma. Not to mention he may be harboring his own crush. I love Jace. He is exactly what Charlie needs when her world seems to fall in on itself.
The plot of this one reminds me a lot of the movie She’s All That. Now Charlie isn’t the shy nerd from that movie, but the transformation and how her friends react to it are similar. Like all of Kelly Oram's books, Girl at Heart explores the emotions and struggles of the character in a realistic, natural way. I knew Charlie, she felt real. I cried with her, laughed with her, and shared her joy as she discovered herself. I may have even fell in love with the King boy. Shhh…don’t tell Brian ?
Overall I love Girl at Heart. I read it in one sitting and really want to pick it up and read it again. Set in the same world as Robin Daniel’s One of the Girls, it makes for a fun tie-in to the others at Roosevelt High. Not only do you have a cameo from that series, there is at least one easter egg from Kellywood, and I may have squealed and giggled as Charlie learns to do in this one. What makes this book stand out above her others is the relationships that Charlie establishes. Not just with Jace, but with Leila and her dad. I love how well built and real they feel. If you enjoy YA contemporary or you’re looking for a fun, sweet romance, I highly recommend you grab a copy of Girl at Heart.
**This review first appeared on Mom with a Reading Problem. To see it and other reviews, visit https://www.momwithareadingproblem.com