Review: Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Author: Elizabeth Scott
Publication: January 28th 2014 by Harlequin Teen
Format: eARC, 240 pages
Source: Netgalley
Genre: YA Contemporary
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Life. Death. And…Love?

Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.

But Emma can’t tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.

Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn’t have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.

Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?


At this point, I’ve read most of Elizabeth Scott’s books but none of them was able to touch my heart and gut me like Heartbeat. Many books have tried to grasp the concept and the feeling of grief but only few actually manage to. I can say with assurance that this book is one of the special few.

If everything matters, then nothing can because it’s all the same. And if it’s all the same, then nothing is ever special. And shouldn’t there be- aren’t there- special things? People?

It’s hard to explain how I ended up loving this book so much. I honestly didn’t expect all the feelings that came rushing through me as I read on. Heartbeat ripped my heart out and had me reeling. There’s so much sadness that I felt like the book was screaming at me saying, “This is how it feels to hurt.” What amazed me even more is how the writing conveys the story so genuinely.

Heartbeat explores a teenage girl’s struggle to come in terms with life, death, family, and love. Emma is a tough character to read- she’s so mad and she continually pushes her stepfather away. She’s lost her drive for school and she makes little effort to be social. Her world is a small one, consisting of her stepfather, her brain dead mother, and her best friend. The rest is a sea of hurt for the things that have happened and for the choices that she wasn’t part of. I could’ve easily disliked Emma for her ire but all I felt was empathy and recognition for the internal turmoil she was in.

I felt the same for Caleb, Emma’s bad-boy love interest. He is just as broken and lonely as her. I think the author did such a great job painting the grief that Emma and Caleb felt which is ultimately why their connection just felt so right. It was lovely, seeing the two get closer, seeing them find hope in each other.

One heartbeat, two heartbeats, three heartbeats, more, and you never know when you have used yours up. That’s the thing. You don’t know. How long will your heart beat for?

The extent of our human lives is such a delicate thing but this novel splendidly reflected it. Achingly raw, Heartbeat is Elizabeth Scott’s most beautiful novel to date.



Hazel @ Stay Bookish

Hazel Ureta is an advocate of stories. She is the blogger and Editor-In-Chief of Stay Bookish because she loves talking about books. She enjoys reading Young Adult novels the most and writes them too.

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  1. Sarah Clare on January 12, 2014 at 3:29 am

    I love the idea of this book. From the blurb it looks like a heart breaker! Like, you’ll read it and want to cry. Which isn’t always a bad thing, for sure! I’m so putting this on my TBR list.

    Thanks for this! It’s a great review!


  2. Francoise on January 12, 2014 at 4:58 am

    This sounds like a really good book and judging by your review and rating it is. I really want to get into the contemporary genre and this sounds like the perfect book. Great review, I’m glad it turned out to be a significant book that really reflects life perfectly.

  3. Aimee on January 12, 2014 at 9:28 am

    I’m excited to read this one! I’ve seen a lot of good ratings from reviewers I trust. Emma and Caleb sound like they’re perfect for each other!

  4. Marci Curtis on January 12, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Messed-up protagonists? Check.
    Bad-boy love interests? Check.
    Awesome review? Check.
    This one is definitely going on my TBR list, Hazel! ;)

  5. Jessika @ Tangled Up in Reading on January 12, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    I don’t read much contemporary, but I’ve been wanting to try it out. This sounds like such a good one! I’ve been looking for something that’s really going to grab me and rip my heart out. Great review!

  6. Sophia @ Loving Lit on January 12, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Oh, I loved this book. So glad you did too! This was definitely a tear-jerker for me. A total heart-breaker. Great review! :)

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  9. lea on January 26, 2015 at 12:36 am

    Loving your review!

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