Review: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart – Jenn Bennett

23310763Beatrix 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 her family’s closet tear them apart?

Rating: 4/5

“You’re an interesting girl.”
“Says Jack the vegetarian Buddhist jewel thief.”

While this book screams ‘quirky!’, which I know many readers might find pretentious, it didn’t bother me – most of the time, I prefer quirkiness to the mundane, as long as it isn’t too contrived. So yes, we have the girl with the unusual hobby and the boy with the unusual after-dark activities and they have a meet-cute one night on public transportation – but dammit, this book has charm.

Earth to Beatrix: This was the night bus, not a Journey song. Two strangers were not on a midnight train going anywhere. I was going home, and he was probably going to knock over a liquor store.

What can I say? The banter between Bex and Jack was lovely to behold, their personalities complemented each other, on the whole, they treated each other well and most importantly, communicated with each other when there were issues! I can’t emphasise the last point enough. (They were less forthright when they were strangers in the beginning, obviously.)

For example, they have a slightly embarrassing but necessary conversation about what their expectations for sex are, for example. Jack encourages Bea to tell him what she likes and doesn’t like. SO IMPORTANT. And not something I’ve seen in many books, adult or YA. And I really like that Bea was the more experienced one. Again, refreshing change! (I know I’m making this book sound like it’s all about sex – which it isn’t – but the sex-positivity of it really stood out for me.)

There were aspects of Bex’s character that I also really enjoyed. She’s a realist most of the time – she has dreams, but is also quite grounded in reality. She’s different, yes, but no outcast or, as she says “Woe is me, I’m so plain Jane, no boys will ever look my way” type of girl. She has friends, she has interactions with the dudely species, she has hobbies, she has work colleagues.

One thing I did find strange was the big deal she makes about her 20-year-old brother still living at home. Maybe its a non-American thing, but here it’s fairly normal to still be living at home at that age?

Casual law-breaking aside, this was an entertaining, swoonworthy read, that touched on some heavier issues of family dynamics and mental illness, and, barring a few bad decisions, depicted a relationship whose dynamics I admired.

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8 thoughts on “Review: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart – Jenn Bennett

  1. This sounds really good actually! I know I wasn’t interested in it before, but I like the fact that it’s so sex positive, and that the characters discuss what they like and they don’t in regards to sex (which is very important, because what’s the point if you’re not enjoying it or are uncomfortable?).

    Awesome review! I hope to get to this soon!

    Like

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