Another review, after a long while!
Author: Jenn Bennett
Title: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart
Release date: 3rd of November 2015
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Published by: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 302 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle
Artist 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 Beatrix's own family's closet tear them apart?
I read a review in Goodreads from a reviewer who absolutely destroyed the story and I got really curious if it really is that awful, because the synopsis had my interest piqued. To my mind, the book was nowhere as disastrous as it was made out to be by the review, then again, she tends to overall be extremely picky with giving books above two or one star ratings. To each their own, I guess. Anyway, the story had its fair share of issues, but was generally quite enjoyable with some elements that were quite original or seldom applied in YA fiction and some that were somewhat cringe worthy and/or annoying to no end.
First, the aspects I thought were well crafted and stood out: The heroine Bex was someone who was passionate about her art, she had a specific goal and was determination to reach it. She knew what she wanted to do in the future and took active steps to ensure it. This is quite rare in the YA world, since the girls usually live only for their romance with the swoony guy. Ok, so maybe I’m unfair, and some do have some interests outside of their hot boyfriends, but being so eager, hard-working and concentrated on her target was out of the ordinary. Moreover, this topic took up quite a big chunk of the plot and was in a way the driving force. The romance was a major part of the story, but as equally significant was Bex’s artistic pursuits. In regards to this, I also found it refreshing that her passion was something very specific, unique and something I myself didn’t really know much about. Plus, she had an ordinary part-time job, which was a great addition as well, enabling her to be more similar to a realistic character.
Next to Bex, her artistic and Buddhist, rebel on the outside, gentleman on the inside, love interest, Jack also stood out due to his hobby, which was creating graffiti on important landmarks and other significant places. I wasn’t really wild about this concept, because while he was apparently talented in the field, it was also vandalism and someone had to clean it up. I really dislike people creating unnecessary work and trouble for those that have to eat up all the unpleasant soup later on, in this case, the cleaning staff. Still, his interests made him more original than your typical ripped, hot and handsome wannabe badboy Ken-doll YA boyfriend. He was very handsome though. This book also includes a very sex positive attitude, which is always, when dared to include in YA fiction, something I applaud.
The families of the couple were very much involved in the plot. Both had in a way quite unusual family situations and several potential sources for conflict there. I did like the so-called secret of Jack’s family, which was also the motivation for him to vandalise as he did. Despite it being for a more or less worthy cause, it still came across as questionable in my mind, I mean, wasn’t there anything else to be done except mess up other people’s property? Being the child of divorced parents is nothing spectacular, but the situation within Bex’s family was slightly different and, thus, not as worn-out as you’d expect. What I really appreciated, and which was at first gasp-worthy, was the fact that despite Jack’s rich family, they couldn’t fix everything and Bex didn’t want them to.
Now for the major issues within the book. I know many explode with annoyance with the popular and overused poor-solitary-girl/rich-misunderstood-and-full-of-baggage-guy trope, but I don’t mind it at all. In this story, however, it sort of pinched my butt from time to time, I cannot explain why, but I guess, because Jack was in a way too good to be true and there was no reason for him to be from a prominent family. I would have enjoyed the story more, if he would have been a guy with a regular background and still incredibly talented with his graffiti art. Also, Jack’s Buddhism and spirituality choices were unexpected and unique in a quirky way, but they felt forced at times. Please, keep over-controlling borderline psycho mothers away from me! I thought Bex’s mom, while having some moments of clarity, had issues, issues I didn’t want to read about. She did manage to redeem herself in the end… somewhat, I’ll give her that. While Bex was someone to admire due to her determination and passion for her original hobby, besides that, she showed little interest in anything else (excluding Jack), had no notable friends (not only named and stated as friend) or social life and it was a slight let-down for the potential. Her life was dull at times and I was hoping for more. Though, I did love her humor and banter with Jack.