Review of A Heart in a Body in the World

A Heart in a Body in the World
by Deb Caletti
High School    Simon Pulse    358 pp.
9/18    978-1-4814-1520-0    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-4814-1523-1    $10.99

Nine months ago, the boy whom eighteen-year-old long-distance runner Annabelle calls “The Taker” irrevocably changed her life for the worse. Now she has embarked on a run from Seattle to Washington, DC, to try to manage the immense anxiety, guilt, and sorrow that have dogged her since. As she runs her daily sixteen miles, accompanied by curmudgeonly Grandpa Ed in his RV, she battles blisters, cramps, dehydration, and unwelcome memories of her relationship with The Taker. She agonizes over what she could have done differently, and blames herself for making excuses for his behavior. When she meets a kind young man along the way, she is understandably wary. But as she is cheered on by friends, family, and complete strangers, Annabelle’s broken heart slowly begins to mend. When readers finally discover what happened between Annabelle and The Taker (involving a gun and a death), it’s almost anticlimactic. The joy and power of this story is in taking the physical and mental journey with Annabelle as she relinquishes her feelings of self-blame and inspires others to act. Caletti’s lyrical third-person, present-tense narration blends immediate detail with gut-wrenching flashbacks to great effect. An important and legitimizing book for any girl who ever believed a boy was owed her attention and any boy who ever assumed it was his due.

From the November/December 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Jennifer Hubert Swan
Jennifer Hubert Swan is director of library services and middle school librarian at Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School in New York City. She is also a visiting assistant professor at Pratt Institute School of Information, where she teaches youth literature and library programming. She blogs at Reading Rants.

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