Friday, December 4, 2015

Review: The Anatomical Shape of My Heart

The Anatomical Shape of a HeartAuthor: Jenn Bennett
Series: Standalone
Released: November 3rd 2015
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Length: 304 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Leonardo 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’ve been a fan of Jenn Bennett ever since her first Arcadia Bell book (which seems like a million years ago), but I never expected her to try her hand in young adult fiction. Foolish of me, I suppose. Why wouldn’t she, when she’s so good at everything else she puts her mind to writing? From the very first advanced reader’s copy that fell into a reviewer’s hand, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart (internationally titled Night Owls, which I prefer), has been getting nothing but rave reviews. And with good reason. Homework was done, a checklist was made, many YA books and reviews have been read and the result was a book designed to satisfy even the most demanding YA reader. At least that’s how it reads.

I’ve tried my best to nitpick and dissect in an attempt to pinpoint the exact thing that made me so uncomfortable, and I failed. Jenn’s writing is flawless and her characters are well rounded people with unique interest. The book offers diversity on more than one level and it even includes a positive, albeit unflinchingly honest representation of mental illness. So what the hell is wrong with me, you say? Likely the fact that my brain kept screaming too perfect too perfect too perfect!

While I loved several things about this book – in fact, my brain loved just about everything about it – my heart just refused to get with the program. It truly did feel as if Jenn had followed some well planned checklist. Sex-positive message, positive representation of mental illness, check, check. Gay couple, racial diversity, check, check. All is well that ends well, check.

This is one of the rare few cases when my rating won’t in any way reflect my true feelings. Objectively, this book is a dream and I would (and will) recommend it to teens wherever I turn. It includes the very things I stand for, it’s quirky and unobtrusively educational. While the perfection of this book clearly made me uncomfortable, I am more than capable of appreciating its worth. So read this, if you haven’t, and then come back to yell at me for being heartless. Or, you know, discuss. There’s nothing I’d enjoy more.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. I read one of her books ages ago, but YA now, intriguing,,,,

  2. Oh yes I also love the author but I confess that I haven't tried this one yet I was denied on NG *sad* but I definitely need to buy it. Everyone loved it.

  3. I completely get what you're saying about it being almost too perfect Maja, but perfection has never bothered me so I think I'll be on board with this one! I've been disappointed by so many of the YA books I've tried lately (I don't know what's wrong with me) that I could do with something that reads really well, checklist or no. :)

  4. I feel you, Maja. Sometimes perfection doesn't work for everyone. It is definitely a well-written story with lots of important themes and definitely a book that I don't hesitate to recommend to readers.
    Lovely review, Maja!

  5. I really loved this but at the same time, I kind of know what you mean about the too perfect side of it. I kept waiting for something to happen or there to be more drama or...something LOL! Sad that we feel that way sometimes but it happens nonetheless.

  6. I hear you. I read this and my initial rating was probably a three, three and a half, but I bumped it to a four after thinking on it. I liked the story and the characters, but there was just something a bit off.......However, it was one of the best YA contemps I read.

  7. I wish authors wouldn't strive for such perfection in their books that they write a cookie cutter story with all the "right" ingredients. I'm glad you'd still recommend it despite your feelings. I feel this way about a lot of books. Just because it wasn't perfect for me doesn't mean it won't work for someone else. And sometimes perfection is needed.

  8. Ack, sorry this one didn't quite work for you - I've seen some rave reviews, and although I have yet to read it, it seems to contain all the elements that would work for me. But you're right, in that some books can just come across as being too perfect, stylistically, but just lacking that chemistry that would make it a favourite.

  9. I had to order this one for the store and I'm thinking I'll definitely have to get a copy for myself. I've seen a lot of good reviews. I like how you reviewed this, letting us know that maybe it was too perfect. I guess we'll see what I think when I read it!

  10. I couldn't find fault in this book. I think Jenn was reading my checklist when she wrote this book. Lol.

  11. I think I get what you mean. It was like it just wanted to be more, but more what? I couldn't say what I didn't like either b/c I just enjoyed the story. Doesn't matter in the end since I'll quickly pick up any of her books as soon as she writes them. :)

  12. I really do want to read this one (and I prefer the title Night Owls as well) but I think I know what you mean. Some books just seem a bit too "put together" to feel realistic enough or something. It's hard to truly see past it sometimes.

  13. I have read some really rave reviews for this one before but somehow I still don't feel drawn to this one... I must confess I prefer the international title more too...
    After your review I'm more intrigued but even more unsure about reading it or not!

  14. I understand why a too perfect book would niggle at you, but I loved this one anyhow. I'd rather have happiness in my reads when there's so much ugliness around in the real world. I'm glad you enjoyed it even with some reservations.

    I've just finished Kindling the Moon last week and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I'm excited to finish the series and would already be reading book two if I didn't need to get through some review books.

  15. I haven't read anything by this author, but I totally understand what you mean about your mind warring with your heart! I felt the EXACT same way with All the Bright Places - objectively, it was doing everything right, but I had a very difficult time getting into the character arcs and their story, you know?

    I have seen how everyone is praising this, so after your review, definitely worth checking out ;) Great review!

  16. I've been seeing so many hype reviews on this one, but I've never been too sure. It always just seemed too finished and too polished, so now I'm not so sure! Thank-you for this review :)

    Denise | The Bibliolater

  17. Maja I totally understand your views on this one, there's been the case where I've not enjoyed a book because of the neatly wrapped up ending, and I remember avoiding a handful of books for that reason alone. But a four star review from you is still good! I was worried that you were going to rate this one lower, but the fact that you were still able to enjoy this one, gives me high hopes! Lovely review! :)

  18. I really loved this book Maja but I didn't LOVE it ya know? And I can't pin point the reason.

    It made me happy and you're right it hits all the right notes but it didn't hit best book ever hype levels.

    Which sounds contradictory I guess but you probably understand what I mean.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

  19. I haven’t read anything by this author yet, though I constantly hear praises for her books from my friends. I think this book is a great opportunity for me to finally get to know this author’s works. I’m familiar with your feelings about a book being too perfect though..

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