At the end of last year, Kelly and I realized that we did not review many of the books that landed on our favorites list. We vowed to fix that and review all of the books we loved in 2018 (and 2019…Gotta work on that). A Heart in a Body in the World landed toward the top of both of our lists so we decided to tackle the review together. We hope you’ve picked up this Printz Honor book – bring tissues!
A Heart in a Body in the Worldby Deb Caletti
Published by: Simon Pulse
on September 18, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
When everything has been taken from you, what else is there to do but run?
So that’s what Annabelle does—she runs from Seattle to Washington, DC, through mountain passes and suburban landscapes, from long lonely roads to college towns. She’s not ready to think about the why yet, just the how—muscles burning, heart pumping, feet pounding the earth. But no matter how hard she tries, she can’t outrun the tragedy from the past year, or the person—The Taker—that haunts her.
Followed by Grandpa Ed in his RV and backed by her brother and two friends (her self-appointed publicity team), Annabelle becomes a reluctant activist as people connect her journey to the trauma from her past. Her cross-country run gains media attention and she is cheered on as she crosses state borders, and is even thrown a block party and given gifts. The support would be nice, if Annabelle could escape the guilt and the shame from what happened back home. They say it isn’t her fault, but she can’t feel the truth of that.
Through welcome and unwelcome distractions, she just keeps running, to the destination that awaits her. There, she’ll finally face what lies behind her—the miles and love and loss…and what is to come.
What made you pick up this book?
Kelly: Christy’s immediate flailing over how badly this book broke her, so of course I needed to experience this pain too, so she was not alone. But seriously you too should experience this pain, I think it’s really important.
Christy: I subscribe to Parnassus Next, a monthly indie sub box for signed YA books. I have never been disappointed by a selection and hadn’t heard of Heart until I got the notification for the book. A tragedy, if you ask me. I generally try to read the books from the box because they just seem to work for me.
As a runner, I was intrigued by a book that uses running as a plot device. I was curious as to what would take a young woman to run across the country. Running has many purposes beyond exercise and training; it’s a good place to process trauma, or ignore it.
A Heart in a Body in the World just won the Printz Honor award. Besides that, why should it be on everyone’s shelves?
K: This book is written brilliantly and forces the reader to feel all sorts of emotions even when you have no idea exactly what Annabelle experienced. You break apart each and every page and then somehow you realize that she’s slowly putting herself back together and somehow by the end your heart has been reknitted alongside Annabelle’s.
C: I don’t automatically read books because they are award winners but I honestly teared up when Heart was announced for this. I can’t think of a book from last year that deserves it more. The story unfolds for readers and for a long time, all you have is increasing feelings of anxiety and fear. You deeply feel what Annabelle, the main character, feels. You don’t even know why until the very end and then you’re just sobbing. I’ve never read another book that made me feel the way this book made me feel.
What makes Annabelle relatable?
K: That she feels so completely. She feels utterly at fault and she is living with crippling fear, anxiety, and PTSD. The reader doesn’t know at first what even happened to her but you feel with her and it’s so real. Even if her journey isn’t very normal it’s appropriately relatable.
C: God, I hope to never experience what Annabelle experienced but we can’t deny the world our kids are currently living in. It’s a reality they fear every day, something I didn’t feel when I was a teenager. For people who have experienced trauma, this book will be very real for that post-trauma processing period. It’s a timely book to reflect on and beautifully written. As a woman, it’s easy to identify with the piece of Annabelle’s story where we are reminded that women must be nice, pretty, and we must never mess up a boy’s life – we can never be too much.