Smith, Lindsay A Darkly Beating Heart, pg. # 261. Roaring Brook Press, 2017. $17. 99 Language: R (30 swears, 9 ‘f’)
Mature content: R (sexual themes, nudity, severe self-harm and abuse) Violence: R (graphic murder)
Reiko’s life is spiraling out of control. Expelled from school and betrayed by someone she gave all her trust, she is sent to work for her cousin in Japan. However, her fresh start is ruined because the hatred towards those who have wronged her still simmers in her heart. She swears nothing will distract her from her revenge, but a girl from another time and a town full of secrets surprise her and tempt her with things she never knew she wanted.
A Darkly Beating Heart takes on a plethora of heavy topics (abuse, self-harm, murder) and then manages to throw them by the wayside so that they seem merely placed in the narrative for shock value. The main character is unlikable, which would be fine if she were penned as a complex human being with more than one interest. However, this was not the case. The heroine came off as a villainous caricature with no redeeming qualities, and I am hard-pressed to believe that the quick resolution provided for this story was enough to restore Reiko from her frankly psychotic thoughts and actions. Pair that with the grueling repetitiveness and gratuitous foul language, and I’m afraid this book does not get my endorsement. I will say though, that the historical details were very well researched and seemed true to the time period.
MS, HS- OPTIONAL. Student Reviewer: Jewels, grade 12