Sunday, 3 July 2016

It Almost Cracked My Heart of Stone - Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne

 All my life, all I'd ever heard was: Emily's so shy, Emily's so quiet, Emily's so clever. Thinking back on it now, I don't know if I was ever any of those things, or if I just became shy and quiet and clever because everyone said I was.”- Tanya Bryne, Heart-Shaped Bruise
I picked this book up off the library shelf, sat down in a conveniently placed chair, and devoured it in three hours. If that doesn't convince you that you must read it as soon as humanly possible, then I don't know what will.

Some people will think they've read this book before - a first person account of a criminal awaiting trial - but you haven't. You haven't read it at all. Emily is an incredible narrator. She will make you laugh. She will make you gasp (with horror). And, most of all, she will make you understand. She's a teenage girl with a realistic voice and, even though what she did was wrong and crazy, you can't help but sympathise with her.

The other characters - Juliet, Sid, Lily, Naomi, Grace, and the doctor - are all brilliantly painted. My favourites among them were probably Sid, who I honestly believe saw Emily as just a friend, though I suppose that is open to interpretation, and Lily, who vanishes quite early on. I was hoping she'd come back (I know that's technically a bad thing) but maybe the fact that she didn't showed that whatever the doctor did to her worked. Perhaps Lily getting out of that wing means that there is hope for Emily? The major characters are all teenagers and, even though most of them are young offenders, they're all relatable. From Emily wondering if she was only shy, quiet and clever because people told her she was to Sid wishing that he could run all the way to the end of the earth.

It is a crime thriller. Usually, that means I flick through to the end after about ten pages because I can't be bothered with the long, drawn out build up. Not this time though, and I'm glad I didn't. It would have ruined it. By the end of the second to last chapter, I was tearing up. The final line of the second to last chapter? My hand quite literally flew to my mouth. It was... a shock to say the least. And the worst part? What it meant, for the characters involved, was left totally ambiguous. I hoped that what happened in the aftermath would be revealed, but no, we're left guessing. Perhaps by what the papers have said about Emily, we can guess what happened and... I know I won't be able to sleep tonight for wondering whether I'm right or not. Poor Emily, though. Even with all the nasty things she planned, she never planned to do that.

The romance - and, yes, there is a love triangle in a manner of speaking - was both slow-building and innocent, and physical and instant. This kind of makes sense given that, from the boy's point of view, one was love and one was friendship. It's the innocent one that I really fell in love with, and it made that one line (you know, the one I keep mentioning) all the more powerful.

This is an amazing novel, about happiness and hatred and coming out the other side to see that the sun is still shining down and everything is going to be okay. Eventually. There's hope at the end of this novel. How many other crime thrillers can you say that about?