My Heartbeat - by Garret Freymann-Weyr

"a heartwarming romance combined with the suspense of a mystery"

        My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr is an extraordinary novel for teens who are can keep an open mind and heart about tough subjects like seeing people as they truly are, sex, gay versus straight sexuality, and finding yourself.  But don’t let its controversial subjects turn you away.  It is a refreshing story with no apparent judgment on any of the topics discussed in its text, yet it enforces a strong theme of self value and finding one’s true place in life throughout the novel.  
          Ellen, a fourteen year-old girl just entering high school, was known to be anti-social in her middle school years.  She hardly hangs out with anyone other than her brother, Link, and his best friend, James, whom she has been “totally madly in love with” since she could remember.  Once freshman year starts at Cedar Hill, the school the three of them attend, she decides to smile more and save her dad from worried calls  from the school about her social skills.  She talks to several girls as the weeks of school progress, yet most of them seem interested only in using her to drop a hello to  Link and/or James.  She does not let this bother her because she’s more interested in the life of the characters she reads about in her novels. 

          One day at school, a girl asks Ellen about the status of Link and James.  “They’re like a couple, aren’t they?”  Ellen ponders and wrestles with the idea of Link and James actually being a couple for several days and cannot make up her mind about the relationship the two share.  She then resolves to ask her mother.  Her mother is in complete shock that Ellen has mentioned the subject, yet she is open to her opinion and also supports the theory of Link and James being a couple.  Ellen’s mother then precedes to advice her to go straight to the source and ask Link and James about their sexuality and relationship with one another.  After building the courage, Ellen asks the two if they are a couple.  Link dances around the question, asking, “A couple of what? … Geniuses?”  James however decides to answer Ellen honestly and does not stray away from the subject.  Link gets very defensive, shouts “I am not gay” and storms out of the room. 

         The question of Link and James’s sexuality looms over Ellen’s head and is not met with a clear answer.  The outcome of her question becomes a boundary between who we are pretending to be and who we truly are deep down, which seems to be the continuing question of life and the theme throughout Garret’s novel.  The question Ellen at first views as harmless curiosity blooms into a web of complications and lingering questions. 

         I recommend this book strongly and view it as a stepping stone to greater learning and becoming a worldly thinker.  I have learned many life lessons that have been reinforced through this book, and I feel that any teenager or young adult could benefit from its topics.  It’s a funny comedy, a heart-warming romance, a suspenseful mystery and is sure to spark many young minds.

    - Sara M.

"The ending was one of the first I thought was complete; it was a perfect finish."

        My Heartbeat is the story of a freshman girl who is in love with her brother’s best friend. Written by Garret Freymann Weyr, My Heartbeat is a love story of sorts told from the perspective of Ellen, the main character. Not a love story in a romantic novel sense but it is the tale of an underlying, impossible, but wonderful type of love.

After a discussion with her brother, Link, and her brother’s friend, James, Ellen comes to realize that Link and James might be gay, together. Seeking the truth, she confronts Link, and he becomes angry and discontinues his friendship with Ellen and James. Ellen and James become best friends and eventually begin to date; and they fall in love with each other, not just the puppy love that Ellen had before.

My Heartbeat is also about Ellen’s growth as an individual.Throughout the book, she learns many new things. James teaches her new ways to think about people which helps her to look at herself in a new perspective.Curiosity also leads her to research topics such as homosexuality, art, and literature.

While the story line in My Heartbeat is not often actually found in real life, it is highly realistic and represents the confusion found in many young people’s lives. Not just confusion about one’s sexual orientation, but just the difficulties of understanding in general; and, of course, her parents are no help to further her (or any teen’s) understanding and often lead her astray even more.

        My Heartbeat is a beautifully written, true-to-life story, in my opinion; and I absolutely loved the ending. Well, the way the ending was written; the ending was one of the first that I thought was complete. It really concluded the story and was a perfect finish to a great tale.I would most certainly recommend this book. Although, if you are not particularly fond of homosexuality, this book may not be for you. There is some mild sexual content, but for the most part, it would probably be rated PG; and I would give it 5 out of 5 stars.

    - Jessica D.

"For anyone who's experienced a broken heart or had a secret love for someone."

        My Heartbeat is a fascinating page-turner that follows Ellen, Link’s little sister, through her highs and lows to becoming more than just the little girl that daddy still understands. James is Link's best friend, and Ellen is madly in love with him. When she is asked by a girl at school if Link and James are a couple, she surprisingly considers the idea. She even asks her mother. Her mother also doesn’t seem shocked that the subject has been brought up. She appears to have even given it thought.

            Garret Freymann-Weyr’s book could be considered rather controversial in terms of how a parent may react to a child possibly being gay and their reasons for their conclusion. Link’s father does not disown him like a lot of parents would, but rather voices his opinion to Ellen that the reason he would not approve is because he, being a successful businessman, understands the cruelties of the world and how gay people are often excluded from many opportunities available to others.

            Ellen's love for James is so relatable to many people. We’ve all had feelings for someone who didn’t feel the same way about us, but lucky for Ellen, James cares a lot about her. Freymann-Weyr brilliantly conveys how it is the little things about people that make us crazy for them, like the way James plays little games with her about people, and how he shows her his drawings and no one else besides Link. There is a certain mystery to James that attracts Ellen. She says that as soon as he kisses her for the first time, the mystery goes away. At that moment, James wants her, and she suddenly understands him. She knows what he wants.

            Ellen’s relationship with her dad is a good one, and is also easy to relate to in many real life situations. As you grow, you feel like a different person and are much more aware of this when you realize that your parents don’t know this. Garret Freymann-Weyr shows how Ellen understands this and chooses to disguise it at some moments for the sake of her father.

            Overall, I loved this book because it is so relatable to young teens, especially those who have experienced a broken heart or have a secret love for someone. I would definitely recommend this book because it is a quick read, but with out a dull moment.

    - Morgan E.

"a hearbreaking and loving story about a complicated love triangle"

       My Hearbeat is a heartbreaking and loving story about three high school students in a complicated love triangle who need to figure out what they truly want in life. Ellen's close relationship with her brother's best friend is interrupted by a wake-up call when someone asks her if James and Link are a couple. When she confronts them, both boys give different answers, but Ellen wants to know the truth.

     The book shows the true trials of high school as well as pressures from different types of people. It is an easy read and a definite page turner. The fact that it's translated into at least four different languages is somewhat ironic since one of James and Link's favorite pastimes is watching foreign films with subtitles. My Heartbeat received the Printz Honor Award for excellence in Young Adult novels. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone, and it is a very fast paced read. I'm sure a lot of teenage girls can relate to many of Ellen's thoughts and actions.

    - Haley L.