Review Detail

Hearts Unbroken Featured
Young Adult Fiction 652
Solidly written with plenty of heart
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
WHAT I LOVED:
When Louise’s boyfriend Cam first disparages Native people in front of her–specifically his brother’s Kickapoo spouse–he isn’t aware Louise is a Muscogee (Creek) Nation citizen herself. Then he keeps doing it and has the gall to get mad at her for “being too sensitive.” The instant Louise breaks up with Cam via email, you’ll be feeling relief like you just finished a hard workout. And that’s all before she starts her senior year of high school and the drama department’s Wizard of Oz causes undue controversy!

Like Louise, I was on my high school’s tiny student newspaper. Senior editor, whoop whoop! If it wouldn’t dox me by my former name, I’d link to a couple of the many pieces I wrote during my two years on staff. Leitich Smith really captures what it was like to practice high school journalism in a school where it’s underappreciated. Heck, Louise’s adventures in reporting on happenings around school almost made me miss being on the paper!

Almost. I don’t miss the constant anxiety about ads and getting literal nonsense articles from one classmate/reporter who probably let predictive text write her first drafts rather than writing them herself.

ANYWAY. Hearts Unbroken is a novel that makes the effort to represent what our schools and teens look like in 2018–and knows exactly where we are in 2018, for better or for worse. You decide to do colorblind casting for one student production of a play and suddenly half the town is allied with Parents Against Revisionist Theater because a black girl will play Dorothy. Louise’s little brother Hughie also has a role in the play as the Tin Man, so she’s got an especially personal stake in what happens!

Throughout the book, Leitich Smith confronts Native stereotypes and makes clear what life is like when you’re a Native person living in the current United States. Whether it’s Louise feeling bad that she dumped that racist ex over email (which no, that was appropriate and he has no right to be upset, the racist almost-man) or Hughie struggling with anti-Native racism that Wizard of Oz creater L. Frank Baum spouted during his life, readers come to better understand an underrepresented population.

The local uproar over kids of color being cast in roles typically played by white people has great parallels to Hamilton and discussions of how much of our negative, racist history can be reclaimed through such productions. Words like “queer” have started to be reclaimed by the people whom the word was long used against, but not everyone wants to reclaim it. It’s simply done too much harm to them.

For instance, say someone adapted an Orson Scott Card novel into a play, made a ton of characters queer as a statement, and encouraged queer actors to audition. Considering Card’s rampant homophobia over the years, I can understand queer actors who’d love to take part in order to make Card mad. I can also understand those who wouldn’t be able to put Card’s beliefs aside and act in it in the name of reclamation.

And that’s not even remotely on the same scale as race. It’s complicated and Hearts Unbroken makes no bones about it.

WHAT LEFT ME WANTING:
Louise’s romance with new guy/newspaper rival Joey rubbed me the wrong way in a manner that’s 100% personal, nothing to do with the novel or the character. See, I knew a guy named Joey in high school. He was emotionally abusive to his girlfriend, sexually harassed me “jokingly” whenever I wore a skirt (we were partners in science class), and told me I was something like 47% demon for a ridiculous reason. The name Joey is just ruined for me because I just kept seeing the awful guy I knew instead of this book’s own Joey!

Also, I got giggly during a very intense part of the novel when it probably wasn’t intended. Joey and Louise are out covering a marathon when a tornado hits. Like everyone else, they take shelter underground–specifically in the underground level of a parking garage. While waiting for the storm to pass, they start rounding the sexual bases to pass the time.

Is this what people do in the Midwest when they’ve got to wait out their regular tornado? Really??? (Of course not, I know better. It just makes me laugh.) Mind you, this is a probably-not-real regional behavior getting laughed at by a resident of Florida. We’re the state of tossing reptiles into fast food drive-thru windows and yet these two screwing around in a Jeep as a tornado passes over the area is what makes me laugh!

FINAL VERDICT:
Okay, okay, I think I’m done. Solidly written with plenty of heart, Hearts Unbroken both stands on its own merits as an entertaining, educational novel and would make a great substitute for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (which was written by a dude who sexually harassed a ton of women, btw).
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Dog and Rabbit
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A funny, sweet story of unrequited friendship from the creator...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Lena and Campbell aren't friends. ...
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
The youngest doctor in America, an Indian-American teen makes her...
Prophecy Untold (Shadow Realms book 3)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Finding out my mother was taken by the demons was...
Sick Kids in Love
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Isabel has one rule: no dating. It’s easier―...
Pawns (The Wielders of Arantha)
 
5.0 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
Seven hundred years in the future, a powerful alien...
Perfectly Oblivious
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Cameron Bates (Cam) could have almost any girl at...
By Any Means Necessary
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Heart-wrenchingly honest, fans of Brandy Colbert and Nicola Yoon...
Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1)
 
3.3
 
4.3 (1)
Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal...
Into the Crooked Place (Into the Crooked Place, #1)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Into the Crooked Place begins a gritty two-book YA...
The Rift
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
As corporate greed is pitted against supernatural forces, two...
The Light at the Bottom of the World (The Light at the Bottom of the World, #1)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
In the last days of the twenty-first century, sea creatures...
Conceal, Don't Feel (Twisted Tales, #7)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
What if Anna and Elsa never knew each other? ...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Bestselling Divergent and Carve the Mark author Veronica Roth delivers...
Bernard Pepperlin
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The drowsy Dormouse from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland...
Vicarious
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Paula Stokes weaves together a series of mysteries and the...

Latest Member Reviews

The Grace Year
 
5.0
"It’s been one week since I finished The Grace Year by Kim Liggett as I sit down to start this..."
 
4.3
"I started out reading an ARC of Symptoms of a Heartbreak, but then I switched to reading a hardcover in..."
Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1)
 
4.3
"I’m going to start out this post by letting it be known by all and sundry that I was provided..."
Sick Kids in Love
 
5.0
"SICK KIDS IN LOVE is a beautiful story about love- as well as invisible illness/disability AND NOBODY DIES! (I do..."
The Light at the Bottom of the World (The Light at the Bottom of the World, #1)
 
5.0
"THE LIGHT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD is a compelling and atmospheric YA fantasy/science fiction. In the future, the..."
Conceal, Don't Feel (Twisted Tales, #7)
 
5.0
"If you adored FROZEN, you need to get your hands on this Twisted Tale which reimagines the story if Anna..."
 
4.0
"THE END AND OTHER BEGINNINGS is the latest from DIVERGENT author, Veronica Roth. The novel is comprised of six YA..."
The Bookworm Crush
 
5.0
"THE BOOKWORM CRUSH is an absolutely charming romantic comedy with all sorts of booklover homages. Amy McIntyre is @redheadrecs and..."
Scared Little Rabbits
 
3.0
"SCARED LITTLE RABBITS follows Nora (aka Eleanor, Lowercase) as she sets out on a summer camp adventure that resulted in..."
A Constellation of Roses
 
5.0
"A CONSTELLATION OF ROSES is a beautiful story of familial love and healing. Trix has been trying to make her..."
Frankly in Love
 
5.0
"FRANKLY IN LOVE is a surprisingly deep and heartfelt read. Although it is described as a rom-com, this is not..."
American Royals
 
4.7
"What if at the end of America’s Revolutionary War, George Washington was offered a crown and what if he said..."
Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance
 
4.0
"This is the type of book I’d like to see included in school curriculums. The stories are like wide open..."
When the Stars Lead to You
 
4.7
"WHEN THE STARS LED TO YOU is quite the emotional YA contemporary. While on the surface it seems like a..."
We Are the Perfect Girl
 
3.3
"'We Are the Perfect Girl' by Ariel Kaplan is a Cyrano De Bergerac style story. There are a host of..."
Stranger Things: Runaway Max
 
4.7
"'Stranger Things: Runaway Max' by Brenna Yovanoff provides an intriguing look into Max's life before and during her time in..."
Crown of Oblivion
 
5.0
"Engrossing and completely thrilling, CROWN OF OBLIVION is a fantastic new YA fantasy that I highly recommend. Dealing with themes..."
 
4.7
"Four very different high school girls plan to spend one month together in GIRLS OF JULY, and they each have..."
 
3.0
"BETWEEN WORLDS: FOLKTALES OF BRITAIN AND IRELAND is a collection of short stories that have been passed down over centuries..."
Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed
 
5.0
"The story: Sheltered high school junior Andrea Cavanaugh believes she hits the jackpot when Josh McMillan, a..."