The Heartbeat Hypothesis
✬✬✬ 3.5 Cheez-it Stars ✬✬✬
According to the Heartbeat Hypothesis every living creature has a limited number of heartbeats or breaths. Once they are used up, the creature dies. Following that thought train Audra should already be dead, being born with a heart defect. She is lucky, however. Somebody else's death gave her a second chance and she is immensely thankful for that. To show her gratitude she seeks out her donor's brother Jake to help her with her task. Re-creating something like a bucket list Emily made her brother take pics of.
Jake isn't thrilled to meet up with Audra but he loved his sister and wants to honor her memory too. As they start with Audra's own "done-it" list Jake begins to see a different Emily and he gets to teach Audra things he never had the chance to show his sister. But while he wants to help his new friend he keeps her at arms length.
This heroine wasn't easy to love. While I admired her for her strength regarding her health I found her to be a little bit too immature. She kept pushing Jake to talk about the things he clearly didn't want to disclose instead of being patient and waiting for him to come around. I wanted her to relax a little bit and give Jake a reason to trust her. Audra wasn't unlikable but she made it hard to fall in love with her. I do get that this is a book about teenagers falling in love but I wanted her to show more of a backbone where Jake was concerned.
Her guilt for having survived while our hero's sister didn't also made it impossible for her to relax and that was understandable. If your own survival comes at the cost of somebody else's death you have to be a cold-blooded mofo not to feel guilty about it.
I thought I knew what loneliness was…But you can’t know lonely until you've lived the opposite.
Jake wasn't much better. He was obstinately closed off and next second he was sweet and warm like summer rain. Whenever Audra wanted to talk he clammed up and hurt her. The hot-and-cold attitude has to confuse any 18 year old teen, however, it does not justify what Audra did. I'm being deliberately vague. I didn't get a life-affirming vibe from Jake. Yes, his past wasn't pretty but I hard time imagining how he would get himself out of this hole of self hatred and the one for his parents.
And on bad days, when his aura of sadness blazed like an alarm he couldn't turn off, I felt like I was doing everything wrong.
While reading I had the distinct feeling that they both felt awkward when they spent time in the first half of the book but given the circumstances and character traits of the two main characters their relationship developed naturally.
The writing was very good for a debut author. It kept me engaged and while I had a few eye-rolling moments I rather take those than being bored to death. This story deals with serious topics like death and handling grief, abuse and how people sometimes just can't let go. It has a generous dose of angst. I would have loved to read Jake's POV.
I see great promise in this author if she evolves and takes both the good and the critical reviews into consideration. I really think that Lindsey Frydman is on to something.
Overall this was a solid debut and I will definitely read more.