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I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.

SPOILER ALERT!

Paper Hearts

Paper Hearts - S.R. Savell

A pushy counselor, school bullies, a neglectful mother, and a dead father have ruined seventeen-year-old high school senior Michelle Pearce’s perspective on life. A social reject living in self-imposed exile, Michelle has little use for anything or anyone—until Nathaniel comes along. A high school dropout who works three jobs to care for his dying grandmother, he’s all but convinced Michelle that there is some good left in humanity.

And then humanity proves him wrong. The unforgivable happens, destroying Michelle’s newfound faith in life and threatening to unravel a love in the making. (source)

 

 

So, when I first started this book, I was very skeptical. I mean, just look at that plot summary - it just reeks of teen angst. And I hate teen angst, probably because I wasn't very angsty as a teen and so, to me, novels with teen angst usually mean whiny drama queens with a "poor me" mentality. And at first, this book seemed to bring more of the same. In the beginning, Michelle is angry at the world to such a degree that she couldn't recognize genuine kindness if it bit her right in the face. It's a quality that I hate in protagonists and when I first saw signs of it in this book, I was very concerned. 

 

Thankfully, this book is so much more than just another teen angst novel. 

 

Because unlike many of those angsty teen drama queens who I despise so much, Michelle actually has real issues. You don't learn about them til later on in the novel, and by that point, thanks to Nathaniel, she's started to become more than just an angry, antagonistic brat. But when you find out what all she's been through, you can't be mad at her for any bratty, rude, or antagonistic behavior. If anyone deserves to act out, it's Michelle. Yes, she does some pretty awful stuff that kind of encourages the way that people treat her, but this girl has really been through the wringer. 

 

And as for Nathaniel - oh my goodness, what a sweetie. It's impossible to not like Nathaniel. When Michelle is a total and complete bitch to him, he just takes it and treats her with kindness and love in return. And soon enough, Michelle begins to realize just how special he is and before long, they're healing each other. It's a healthy relationship that's formed in the life of a girl who, on paper, would probably be very unlikely to have a healthy relationship because she's got so many issues that no guy in his right mind would ever see something promising in her. Thankfully, Nathaniel does, and he fixes her as best as he knows how, simply by accepting her and treating her with love. And what's even better - Nathaniel needs to lean on Michelle just as much as she needs him. 

 

This book is filled with really awesomely crafted characters, from Michelle and Nathaniel to Nathaniel's grandmother (what a gem!), from Michelle's completely self-absorbed mother to her scumbag of a boss. It has a plot to match - the plot twist came completely out of nowhere. Like, I had to re-read the part where the twist is introduced because I was so completely blind-sided. It was almost (but not quite) Fight Club level. And while there were definitely some bad parts to the ending, I think that overall, it ended on a happy note, which is something that I always love. And now for the spoiler that I wish that I didn't have to include because it's such a HUGE spoiler, but I will because it is such a sensitive topic:

the book does contain rape. It's not super duper detailed but it does happen and it's a pretty major focus of the ending. Before you get too worried, the good news is, Nathaniel (wonderful, perfect, Nathaniel <3) is not the rapist and in the aftermath of what happens, he proves to be even more spectacular than he was in the beginning of the book. 

(show spoiler)

 

The copy of Paper Hearts that I read is an uncorrected proof, as the book will not be released for almost 3 more months. I've seen that a couple of other reviewers have complained about the lack of corrections. It's true - there are a lot of typos and grammatical problems. There were also a couple of plot points that felt like they could have needed a bit more of development or explanation, and there were others that felt superfluous. For example -

does Nathaniel know about Peter prior to the incident at Christmas? I thought he did, but after that scene I thought that he probably did not. But if he did not, how did Michelle explain her job change?

(show spoiler)

 But I do not fault the book for these imperfections - it's still got plenty of time to be edited and I feel optimistic that the end result will be even better than the version I read. As far as I'm concerned, the editing that is left is minor and will be easily accomplished. The story itself is fantastic, and I can't wait for you all to read this! If you're a YA lit fan, definitely be looking for this on April 15. 

 

Disclaimer: I received an advance review copy of this book from LibraryThing, but in no way did this influence my review.