Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Written by Elizabeth Scott
Published in Australia March 1st 2014
223 Pages
Thank you to Harlequin Australia 
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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?

Emma was once the model student, outgoing, vivacious with a love for life. That changed in an instant when her pregnant mother simply stopped living. Now Emma is a shell of her former self, each day visiting her mother who is being kept alive by machines that breathe for her and keep heart beating. All for the sake of the baby.

Now it's only Emma and her stepfather Dan. Dan has raised Emma as his own, but since Emma's mother died, she feels that his sole focus is on the baby that is draining what remains of her mother. Emma is angry and hurt and has lashed out. She and Dan no longer talk, resenting him for making the decision to save the baby without asking her thoughts, she's no longer the model student and is failing her classes and her every thought drifts back to her mother's lifeless body being kept alive so Dan can finally have the child he so desperately wanted.

Even with her best friend Olivia who has always been a shoulder to cry on, Emma feels as though no one understands. Until a chance encounter with school bad boy Caleb. Caleb is known as a drug addict, a car thief, and nothing but trouble. But when his community service brings him to the hospital where Emma's mother is being kept alive, their paths cross and a mutual understanding and shared grief allows the two teens to bond.

Caleb knows what grief is, having lost his younger sister years ago. His parents barely acknowledge his existence and Caleb believes they would have rather he died instead. Life wasn't always court appearances and community service, before his sister Minnie died, Caleb was spirited, he was loved and most importantly, he was happy. Now he feels as though he's simply a disappointment that only reminds his parents that it should have been him, not Minnie.

Bonded by grief, both teens venture on their own journey to find a way to live again, to make it though each day and find solace in one another.

My Thoughts

Heartbeat is an incredibly emotional journey about letting go, healing and learning to live again. Emma has never felt more alone, the only person she felt ever truly loved her, is being kept alive by the man who was supposed to have loved her. Stepfather Dan has raised Emma as his own child and the small family unit was happy, healthy and safe. After two years of trying, Dan was thrilled to become a father, but Emma believes her mother only wanted the baby to satisfy Dan, and was scared to go through another pregnancy at her age. So when Emma's mother died, Dan made the decision to keep her mother's body alive and Emma is incredibly angry.

Emma deal with her grief through anger, she's angry with Dan for assuming he knew what Emma's mother wanted, and she's angry at her unborn half brother. She cares about little other than how she feels and has shut Dan out of her life. Under any other circumstance, Emma's character would be highly criticised, but she's distraught and her pain and inner conflict are confronting and raw. Her pain leaps off each pain and I found it irritating, emotional and equally as distressing. It isn't until she starts spending time with Caleb, that she begins to find an outlet and can breath again.

Caleb isn't without his own issues, and is justified in his own rage. He doesn't want to fix Emma, nor take her pain away. He simply offers comfort and support and shows Emma that she isn't alone. I liked Emma well enough, but her behavior became tedious annoying. She's grieving, but as other character also mentions, she uses that to justify her anger and how she treats her loving step father is deplorable. But Elizabeth Scott is incredibly clever, she's created Emma who the majority of readers will want to throttle, but given she's deeply grieving, most readers won't criticise her character. When your grieving, most people will excuse your behavior, and Heartbeat won't be any different. 

But I really enjoyed it, despite Emma. It was incredibly raw and confronting and brought a maturity to the young adult genre rarely seen with most new releases. Powerful and gripping, but incredibly emotional. 


  1. It's good to hear you liked Heartbeat, despite annoying characters. I can't wait to read it!

    1. Emma tread that fine line between deeply grieving and being incredibly self absorbed. But I can't imagine going through what she's had to endure, so I think readers will cut her a bit of slack.

  2. It must be a hard line to straddle as an author - between angsty tedius teen and a person trying to deal with their emotions (i.e. Anger).
    Another one I've not heard of but it sounds great. Will keep this one in mind when I'm looking for a moving read :) Great read.

    1. Emma certainly has a lot of anger, but I couldn't agree more. An author must spend entire plotlines agonizing about character traits. I only wish Emma Chad shown a little more empathy towards step father Dan.

  3. Awwww... I can totally understand where Emma's pain, frustrations, and grief are coming from. Losing the only person who truly understood you, being left out by the stepfather she grew to love... even I'm not sure I would have been strong as she has been. This sounds so heart-wrenching :( I'm pretty sure there are a lot of values to learn from here, and I'd read that for those, even if I empty my tearducts along the way. Awesome review, girl.

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

    1. That's the frustration with Emma's character, her step father really tried to include her, but sadly she wasn't able to see beyond her own grief.

  4. To be able to enjoy a book that has such an annoying main character is an achievement. Lovely review as always, Kelly! I think I'll skip this one.

    1. It was actually Caleb's character that intrigued me more. I felt so much sympathy for the poor teen. Give it a go Jeann, despite Emma, it's well worth the read.

  5. I keep seeing this one at lots of different shops. Personally, I feel like Harlequin is the only publisher that supplies to places like Target or Kmart now. I'm still torn over whether I want to pick this one up. I do tend to get annoyed with characters, but more so when they're doing things incredibly stupid. I might be able to stand her considering it's a grief book. I haven't read one since A Place In This Life by Julie Duck. It was a while ago, but it was good. I remember crying at 4am in the morning with my kindle in my hand.


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