Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Review: My Beating Teenage Heart by C.K. Kelly Martin

From Inside Jacket: Ashlyn Baptiste is falling. One moment she was nothing - no memories, no self - and then suddenly, she's plummeting through a sea of stars. Is she in a coma? She doesn't remember dying, and she has no memories of the life she left behind. All she knows is that she's trapped in a consciousness without a body and she's spending every moment watching a stranger. Breckon Cody's on the edge. He's being ripped apart by grief so intense it literally hurts to breathe. On the surface, Breckon is trying to hold it together for his family and his girlfriend, but underneath he's barely hanging on. Even though she didn't know him in life, Ashlyn sees Breckon's pain, and she's determined to find a way help him. As her own distressing memories emerge from the darkness, she struggles to communicate with the boy who can't see her, but whose life is suddenly intertwined with hers. 

My Rating: 3.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: I’ve read a few novels dealing with the themes of grief and loss, but C.K. Kelly Martin’s My Beating Teenage Heart stands out for its lovely prose and way of getting the reader engaged into the story.

The book opens with a nameless being who simply exists among the stars before she's sucked back to the world of the living. Who is she? What has happened to her? Those answers will be revealed in time since Ashlyn is just as lost in the dark as the reader. Not a ghost but more like a consciousness, she’s also unable to help Breckon, the boy she has become connected to somehow.

Breckon’s past is perhaps only slightly less mysterious than Ashlyn’s. His alternating point of view informs the reader that he blames himself for his sister’s death – how she dies is unknown at first – and shows that he’s clearly in deep pain and suffering. Martin does a great job of contrasting Breckon with Ashlyn – one would do anything to live again and the other couldn’t care less.

Much like Ashlyn, the reader can only be a helpless bystander as Breckon rejects the emotional support offered by those close to him (even as they try to come to terms with Skylar’s death) and attempts to forget about reality through a variety of means. However, this in a way also distances Breckon from the reader who may have never experienced such a tragic loss.

Although the ending was a little disappointing because it was kind of neat and the reason for the connection between Breckon and Ashlyn wasn’t as significant as I thought it would be; I liked where Martin chose to end My Beating Teenage Heart. It seems like a logical point at which to conclude Breckon’s and Ashlyn’s story lines, but still leaves the reader with hope that the main characters will be okay.

A book that takes a profound look at life and death, My Beating Teenage Heart was released in September 2011 by Random House Books for Young Readers. 

Comments About the Cover: I like it. The colours that are used match the sombre tone of the novel, and the faint outline of a girl in the background indicates the presence of a ghost (even though Ashlyn isn’t technically one). Since the book is told from two POVs, it's also nice that you can't tell whether the hands making the heart belong to the girl or to someone else.
This book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. 
original image from thegate.ca


  1. This was on my wishlist until it got released and then I finally lost my desire to read it. :/ I think it has something to do with how depressing the book seems to be. And oh I hate, hate, hate it when the book leaves an open-ending. I think it's worse than killing off all the characters.

  2. Wow this sounds good. Intense! I haven't heard of it before but the cover seems familiar. Too bad about the ending though bt it still sounds like a good book!

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  3. I enjoyed Martin's other books and I like that she isn't afraid to go deep and complex in her books. This one sounds like an intense read and I look forward to reading it soon.

  4. This sounds intriguing, Martin sounds like she tackles some intense subjects! I'd like to check this out but the open ending really puts me off! New follower :)

  5. I really like the sound of this one with Ashlyn trying to figure out what's happening with her while also trying to help Breckon - seems like it could be a big, confusing, wonderful mess:) Too bad their relationship didn't quite have the significance you were hoping for by the end, it still sounds like a pretty solid read:)

  6. OMG This book is totally on my TBR list!!! The end seems to be a bit of a bummer but I still need to pick this one up!!! Love the sound of it :) Great review!!!!

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  7. Definitely a unique premise. And an interesting contrast with one character "dying" to live again and the other so apathetic. It would suck to be a helpless bystander as she watches Breckon fumble through his grief.

  8. I was a tad disappointed in the end too. Wrapped up way too nicely after everything that went on!!!

  9. Sounds good but not mind-blowing XD I still might read it during this year =)
    Thnx for the greta review my dear =D

    btw, I had no idea it was by a Canadian author! yay!

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