Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland
Published by: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers on October 4, 2016
Review Source: Publisher, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction
Plot: Three things about Grace Town: 1. mysterious, 2. a train wreck, 3. not the girl you should fall in love with. Three things about Henry Page: 1. He has finally landed the job of editor at his high school, 2. He comes from a quaint nuclear family, 3. He is in love with Grace Town.
Review: The following review contains spoilers! My takeaway feelings for this book are: I did not like reading this book, but I respect it. Here’s why:
I want to make it clear that Sutherland is a wonderful writer. She has this innate ability to craft characters who are personable and fully realized. However, Henry’s first experience with love (falling for Grace) is, simply put, tragic. Grace is grieving, depressed, and probably not someone who Henry should select as his first. The worst part is Henry has been incredibly insulated up until this point, but still has the wherewithal to know he’s heading towards emotional destruction. Henry’s charmed existence prior to Grace makes watching things crumble twenty times worse.
However, Henry and Grace represent a truth most of us have or will experience: some loves are painful. Some loves don’t have happy endings, or at the very least closure. Sometimes the love you want doesn’t happen regardless of your desire. This is Henry and Grace’s lot in life, and the fact that Sutherland has laid it before us with brutal honesty was beyond refreshing. She isn’t afraid to address how toxic some relationships are, or how extremely unhealthy they can be when they are all consuming. She makes it clear that relationships are messy and imperfect, regardless of external perceptions. She also shows readers that even when in the worse situations, time can and will change your feelings towards events, and that even if something doesn’t work out it can still be a catalyst for growth.
I want to also mention that I respected the fact that Sutherland chose to have a male protagonist. Far too often we see everything coming from the female perspective, but guys struggle with relationships too. They are just as sensitive and confused in the love department, and need more books that show males as leads.
Ultimately, we need more books like Our Chemical Hearts, where the writer shows the reader (especially teen readers) such respect and trust by not shying away from the grittier aspects of life. So, while I did not “like” reading this, I love that this book has been written, and written well.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Who Should Snag It: Fans of contemporary fiction will dig this one.
*I would like to thank Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review*