Review: “Our Chemical Hearts” by Krystal Sutherland

This book has been on my radar since it first came out last year. It sounded cute, but I think I just missed some major, glaring signs that this book wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. I thought it would be a book that explored mental illness, or maybe that’s just my interpretation of the synopsis?

Anyway, I was disappointed and glad I checked it out from the library instead of buying it.

our chemical heartsTitle: Our Chemical Hearts
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release date: October 4, 2016
Genre: Young adult, contemporary, romance
Length: 320 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) “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.”

two starsMy Thoughts

Well, I don’t really know what to say about this book except that I was sorely disappointed. Maybe I should have taken the hint, but it was the mystery and the “brokeness” about Grace I wanted to find out about. Truthfully, what happened in her life was sad, but as I continued reading I felt Grace needed actual professional help to deal with what happened. Henry, the main character, liked the idea of Grace–of what he hoped Grace would be if they ever started dating, to the past Grace before she was the girl with the cane. You know I’m glad Grace told Henry as much.

I didn’t mind the nerdy references; I loved them. I liked Henry’s family, too, and his sister might just be my favorite character. But also the revelations about Henry’s parents saddened me despite their own brand of nerdiness and treating Henry like he’s actually a responsible teenager, which he was at home. I won’t say much else for the sake of spoilers, man, people sure are funny creatures. Which also brings me to why exactly Henry started liking Grace in the first place and how she didn’t really reciprocate those feelings, at least not in a way he wanted her to. Henry’s thoughts tried to be poetic, but it just didn’t work for me. I will say, though, my favorite parts were Henry’s multiple drafts on his phone and his PowerPoint presentation.

I didn’t really like Henry’s friend Murray and his obsession with an Indian girl whose name he repeatedly pronounced wrong, which became a little joke between his friends. I’m fine with inside jokes, but not with that one. Then they continue to make a joke about the blatant racism of it. Okay, so they’re drunk but that’s not an excuse.

Henry also described Grace in the oddest of ways, too. He compared her to a “heroine junkie” with “sunken eyes and hollow cheekbones.” Then later on, he says that if he were to take their friendship to an actual romantic relationship, she’d be the “jagged piece of glass that [he’d] cut himself on again and again.” There’s this odd romanticizing of these dark things, and I don’t like it.

This book is described as John Green meets Rainbow Rowell. Maybe that should have been my first hint that I wouldn’t like it. I liked one of Green’s Paper Towns and Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. I simply felt there were some glaring mistakes in this book, along with romanticizing the true problems with Grace that turned me off. I felt as if this could have gone deeper, diving into how to deal with grief and the aftermath of losing someone you care about, but it wasn’t.

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