Review: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

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Title: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart
Author: Jenn Bennett
Format I Read: Kindle eBook
Pages: 304
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis from Goodreads


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 her family’s closet tear them apart?

General Impression


I’m reeling. I have tears in my eyes, honest to God, tears in my eyes. My heart is aching and my stomach is fuzzy and my hands are shaking. I want to share this book with every single person in the universe. It was absolutely beautiful, spectacular, awing, and amazing – perfection. I’ve read some great books recently, but one hasn’t struck me this hard in a long time. The Anatomical Shape of a Heart is definitely worth a read. From the characters to the chemistry, from the complex issues to the puzzle of the story, from the writing to the uniqueness of the novel… a masterpiece from start to finish.

Characters


The characters were absolutely fantastic. Beatrix (better known as Bex) is so quirky and strong. I adored her character: her grayscale outlook on life, her complex history and family life, her unique interests, her drive to fulfill her artistic aspirations. Not to mention, just how fiercely real she was. Her reactions were so refreshing, so alarmingly realistic. She felt like an actual person, someone that I could see walking on the street, a girl in high school that I could be friends with. Not just a character in a book.

Jack was just as amazing. He was a great balance of a struggling family life, swoonworthy love interest, and passionate artist. Unfortunately, he was a little too perfect at times. He wasn’t always the most believable of characters. But he was still awesome! He had me feeling warm and fuzzy for just about every page. Not to mention, he had so many secrets, so much mystery, and so much depth. I loved watching his secrets slowly reveal themselves. So interesting! I also really enjoyed the minor characters. I won’t say specifics for fear of spoilers, but I really loved the complicated family dynamics and the development within both Bex’s and Jack’s families. Really pulled at my heartstrings.

Romance


The romance was filled with a ridiculous amount of chemistry, which was great. But there was definitely a bit of instant attraction, bordering on insta-love. Like the fact that Jack mildly stalked Bex after meeting her one time. Which is a little far to go for just insta-attraction, so I’m definitely feeling some level of insta-love. But still, it was pretty mild! I really enjoyed the romance – it gave me lots of fuzzy feelings and happy sighs.

And I love how this book handles sex. It made me so happy to see how almost revolutionary this book was with teenage sex. First of all, Bex is actually more experienced than Jack and even questions some of the double standards of sex: “‘Would it have been an issue if it was four guys [who she’d had sex with before Jack]?’ After all, I’d known plenty of guys our age who’d slept with twice as many girls. Double standards were the worst” (Location 286 of 523). Second of all, Bennett even subtly slips something in about Bex and masturbation, which was awesome because female masturbation is so rarely talked about, especially in YA!

And then… the home run… “If we can’t talk about it, how can we do it [have sex]?” (Location 405 of 523). A million times yes. If you’re not mature enough to talk about sex, then you shouldn’t be doing it. It was so great to hear that voiced by a teenage character.

Writing


No specifics necessary: the writing was beautiful. Bennett has such an amazing talent. Honestly, it was exquisite.

Plot


I really don’t want to spoil anything so I’m going to be very vague here. But I loved the plot. Bennett included so many complex issues, from family problems to mental health awareness. It was so refreshing. I especially loved how she blended all of the plotlines together – Bex’s family issues, Jack’s family issues, Bex’s artistic aspiration, Jack’s graffiti, and the mystery behind all of it. The plot and the issues addressed were what really made this book great for me – but I can’t go into specifics because I really don’t want to spoil anything. So just take my word for it!

Conclusion


This book was awesome, though a little too fast paced in the romance department! Don’t get me wrong, it definitely had me swooning. But the characters swooned a little too soon for my taste and made me a little skeptical. But the characters, the plot, and the issues discussed in the book definitely made up for any insta-love or insta-attraction. There were some amazingly realistic struggles in this book that made it a very hard-hitting novel. And in the end, this book was exciting, sweet, and heart-warming. I definitely recommend you give it a go!

4.5 stars

With lots of bookish love,

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