By Elizabeth Scott
Published on January 28th 2014
Published by Harlequin Teen
Published by Harlequin Teen
You’ve heard the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, in this case, readers should not judge a book by its first chapter. Ok, I admit it, I read some reviews for this one before I finished the novel. While the majority of the reviews were positive, there were several reviewers who DNF-ed this novel because the main character was full of such hatred that she was hard to relate to. Yes, there were moments when was annoyed by Emma and confused by her actions, but I am glad that I did not give up on this one!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?
Yes, Emma is hard to relate to throughout much of the novel. She is mean to her stepfather because he has decided to keep her mother on machines in order to save her unborn child’s life. At times, I thought her hatred for her stepfather went too far, and it was difficult to read. But Emma has a right to be angry. She has experienced something that not many of us have; she is seventeen, her mother has died, her stepfather (who she once loved) has become distant, and she feels guilty for not spending much time with her mother before her unexpected death. Who are we to judge her for her emotions?
Enter Caleb, a boy who is facing his own demons. He has a reputation at school for doing drugs and stealing cars, and Emma never would have paid attention to him if he didn’t have community service at the hospital where she goes to see her mom every day. Caleb seems like the only one who truly understands Emma, and it is through their interactions that we as readers start to see her as more than a hate-filled teenager. (Did the reviewers who DNF-ed this even get to the part where Emma learns about why Caleb is so messed up? Did they read about how Caleb was there for her, how she opened up to him?) Emma and Caleb’s relationship feels real, partially because it is so unexpected, and partly because it brings out a side of Emma that she had forgotten even existed.
Although Emma’s emotions went up and down so much throughout the novel, I did end up rooting for her to be happy in the end. The ending was emotional in a way that was not full of hatred! So, before you judge this (or any other) book by the main character’s emotional state at the beginning, remember that YA novels are often about character growth. Please stick by Emma through thick and thin!