My Beating Teenage Heart by C. K. Kelly Martin. To be published by Random House in September, 2011. Read in August, 2011. ARC provided by publisher at ALA Annual.
The plot of My Beating Teenage Heart is hard to describe without giving too much away. It is told in first person through the eyes of two different characters. In the beginning, they are both unnamed, so I am going to leave them this way. A girl is floating among the stars, unsure of where she is or why she is there. She begins to fall until she stops in a bedroom where she sees a teenage boy on his bed. He is not aware of her presence, and all she can figure out is that he is wracked with emotional pain. Going forward, the reader learns more, along with the girl, about these two characters. The chapters are told from both character’s perspectives.
I loved this book. LOVED it. Even when I thought I knew where Ms. Martin was taking me, she surprised at every turn. The characters sucked me in and I needed to see them through to the end. One of my favorite things about it was the healthy relationship the male character has with both his girlfriend and his best friend. He forgets their love at times, but they love him in a way that is real and true. I enjoyed reading a book where the people closest to a main character aren’t quick to betray or otherwise hurt their friend.
If there is another female author who writes male characters better than C. K. Kelly Martin, I haven’t read said author. I admit that I have only read two of her four novels (bad YA librarian!) but in the two I have read now, I Know It’s Over and My Beating Teenage Heart, Ms. Martin’s teen male characters are deep, emotional, thoughtful, honest, and could step off the page fully formed.
The last two chapters in particular will make you want to keep the tissues close at hand. Not a fluffy read; it will take you on an emotional journey and leave you feeling wrung out yet satisfied and hopeful. Will definitely be a 2011 favorite of mine, and I can’t wait to add it to my high school’s collection.