Title: Our Chemical Hearts
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Publication date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Number of pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love that he’s been hoping for just hasn’t been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything’s about to change.
Grace isn’t who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys’ clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It’s obvious there’s something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn’t your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland’s brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.
I simply adored this book. It had everything: a sexually frustrated yearbook editor, a lesbian graphic designer, and an obvious Australian. If those kinds of characters don’t intrigue you right off the bat, than I don’t know what will! The book, while sinking right into the slightly overused genre types of contemporary-angsty-teen-romance makes fun of other tropes such as “Manic Pixie Dream Girl.” Yeah, that’s right. It acknowledges the overused hypes of the different tropes and knocks the mysterious new girl trope on its head.
Henry, the main character, wants to be a writer, and has been “working his ass off” to be yearbook editor. I connected with him almost immediately because of his quick wit and sincerity about his love for writing. Henry is quirky but in a way that makes him seem more real than any teenage boy that I’ve seen in awhile. He gets distracted by the arrival of the mysterious new girl Grace. Grace’s character seemed a bit stereotypical at first, but some changes come into play–she wears boys clothing (like literal clothes for a man, not tomboy-esque) and she is crippled with a cane. She was in a car accident, which drastically changed her in ways such as starting in a new school and leaving her crippled. Henry falls hard and fast for Grace, or rather the idea of who Grace was before the car accident.
The only thing I felt was a little off was the worse-for-ware view on mental health. Grace obviously had issues, leading boys she barely knows to dangerous ponds under buildings in the middle of the night, but the author plays that off as a quirk of a “Manic Pixie Dream Girl.” This writing tactic worked, but I really wished there was some way that Grace’s depression was dealt with in a better way. It’s really only mentioned that Henry believes she had issues, and when it becomes obvious, he doesn’t really do much to help.
This book spoke to me as a writer and a believer in quick but real romances. I might reread it soon!