Beyah Grim has only ever known a life of poverty and neglect. After surviving by any means necessary, she finally has a hard-earned ticket out of Kentucky with a full ride to Penn State. Two short months before she’s finally free, an unexpected death leaves her homeless and forced to spend the remainder of her summer on a peninsula in Texas with a father she barely knows.
Begging the summer to go by quickly and hoping to remain as invisible as possible, Beyah wants nothing to do with Samson, the wealthy, brooding guy who lives next door to her father and who couldn’t possibly understand where Beyah’s coming from or what she’s been through. But with an almost immediate connection too intense for them to deny, and futures leading them to opposite ends of the country, Beyah and Samson decide to stay in the shallow end of a summer fling, neither of them realizing that a rip current is about to drag both their hearts out to sea.
Colleen Hoover’s Heart Bones is an emotional story of two teenagers on the cusp of adulthood, both let down in life and trying to make sense of their future. Well-paced, coming of age YA fiction with a summer romance at its centre.
We meet Beyah Grim after her mother dies of an overdose, and the only person she has left in her life is her estranged father – someone she’s barely spent any time with and has never really expressed much of an interest in her life. Realising that she needs help from others, she spends the summer in Texas with him before heading to college, and there, she meets Samson. Secretive and mysterious, Samson seems to understand Beyah more than anyone else. Life seems to have dealt him a difficult hand and over the Summer, these two teenagers find comfort in each other’s presence.
“I think there’s a chance I might be wrong about him. I might have judged him a little too soon. But then again, what’s the matter if I am wrong? Things between us are awkward and I don’t see that changing unless one of us has a personality transplant.”
Overarchingly, Heart Bones explores poverty and neglect, and how this can impact a person’s actions. How do we perceive a person’s actions when they’re desperate, alone and without the appropriate means to survive?
I read Heart Bones in one sitting, impressed with the premise and characterisation. The pacing, too, is something to be commended. I was surprised to realise that this book is being marketed as general fiction because for me, it definitely feels like a YA novel. Centred around two teenagers and dealing with themes of love, identity and family, both of the main characters bond of their shared experiences in pain and heartbreak. They have to learn to let others in, knowing they don’t need to just rely on themselves.
“Samson looks over at our table. There’s a discomfort to him now. He puts his hand on the guy’s back and walks him away from the table so we can’t hear what they’re saying. I look at Sara and Marcos to see what their reactions are.”
Heart Bones follows a similar plotline to a fair few YA romances – that ‘final’ summer before college, where your path appears unclear and you’re not sure what kind of person you might become.
This is definitely more of a character-driven story than plot-driven. Among many other things, Heart Bones explores the merge of a new family and new friendships. When Beyah moves in with her father, she meets his new wife and his stepdaughter Sara. Over the course of the novel, it’s not just about Beyah bonding with her father, but the rest of the family too. She learns to let them in, trust others, and trust that she can actually have a family outside of what she was used to during her childhood.
“He doesn’t respond to that. He just watches me. He does that a lot and I like it. I don’t even care what he’s thinking when he stars. I just like that he finds me intriguing enough to stare at, even if his thoughts aren’t entirely positive. It means he sees me. I’m not used to being seen.”
Poignant and emotionally driven, Colleen Hoover’s Heart Bones is suitable for readers of YA. Romance readers will enjoy this. Readership skews female, 14+
Thank you to the publishing company for mailing me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Simon & Schuster Australia