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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?
ARC received for review purposes in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I don’t know what it was about this book’s synopsis, but something about it immediately captured my attention and I was dying to get my hands on a copy. Maybe it was the fact that the book has an anatomy artist. Or maybe it was the fact that it featured a graffiti artist who sounded sexy as sin. I went into The Anatomical Shape of a Heart with certain expectations and the book delivered in every way. YA contemporary fans are going to LOVE this book!
For a YA contemporary romance novel to really shine for me, the characters need to be compelling. Thankfully, Jenn Bennett seems to be talented at writing these authentic characters that come to life throughout the story. Beatrix Adams, the main character whose POV through which the book is written in, was probably one of my all-time favorite female characters. I loved that she was this character with aspirations that went beyond the norm and that she actually took the steps that she needed to in order to go after her dreams. Her passion for art, specifically anatomical/medical art, was unique, quirky, refreshing and contagious. Not to mention, her character growth throughout The Anatomical Shape of a Heart was smoothly executed. You actually see the subtle changes that occur to her character’s personality as a reader and that in itself made the book engaging.
Jack, a graffiti artist that she crosses paths with one random day, was just as well fleshed out for me. I expected him to be a dark bad boy character, but he was a sweetheart who easily charmed his way into my heart. He was battling with his issues with a family member being admitted to the psych ward, and the reason behind his vandalism was actually kind of heartfelt. You feel for this boy and fall in love with him over and over again as he opened up to Bex and the reader. Plus, he was a practicing Buddhist (a first in YA book as far as I know!). As a Buddhist myself, that delighted me to no ends. Despite all the obstacles he had to face, Jack always managed to be funny and made me smile like a goof whenever he was on page. There was just something special about his character that made you wish that he were your boyfriend instead of Bex’.
Besides having memorable characters, the romance between Jack and Bex too was beautifully written. I was in love with the love that grew between Jack and Bex. The flirtatious moments, the banter, the kisses and the conversations they had were sparkling with the intense chemistry that they shared. I loved this romance because you can see them slowly falling for each other throughout the book. Jenn Bennett makes you believe that the two of them are meant to be together and that nothing can really tear them apart. It was a powerful, touching and profound romance based on trust and mutual respect, one that I have no doubt readers will adore. Jack and Bex talk about everything and that made the shipper in me very happy. The book handled sex in such a positive and practical way – Jack and Bex discuss their fears and expectations of sex, which is something that is almost unheard of in YA but is still incredibly important.
The Anatomical Shape of Heart also heavily focused on family as a theme. Both Bex and Jack’s families play crucial roles in the book that went beyond just being secondary characters. The parents especially are part of their kids’ lives through and through, something that I appreciated. Their families weren’t without their flaws, but then again, whose family is? One thing I’ve learned from reading The Anatomical Shape of a Heart is that Jenn Bennett is masterful at blending together themes and making each one them equally important. Her writing was undoubtedly addicting and I sincerely hope she will continue to write more books in this genre because YA needs more mature, thoughtful and important books like The Anatomical Shape of a Heart.
I hope I was able to convince you to give this book a try. This is honestly going to go down as one of my favorite books of the year. I was able to finish this one within 2 days because I had a hard time looking away from it. If you’re a reader who enjoys sex positive romance novels with a strong focus on character evolution and family, then no excuses, you MUST read The Anatomical Shape of a Heart. While I wait for Jenn Bennett to explore YA further, I’m off to read her adult books.
Some of my favorite non-spoiler quotes from The Anatomical Shape of a Heart:
- I’ve spent the last three days at the Zen Center trying to get back on my feet, and you just pull me up like it’s nothing.
- “Hey, Bex?” Jack said as he grated. “Just so we’re clear, if we were alone, I’d probably kiss you right now.”
- “What do I want?” His fingers brushed over loose strands of hair near my temple. “I want to call you every five minutes. I want to text you good night every night. I want to make you laugh. And I want you to look at me like you did that first night on the bus.”
- He was kissing me like we were both on fire and he was trying to put the flames out, and I kissed him back like an arsonist with a pocketful of matches