The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett | Book Review

Posted October 11, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 8 Comments

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett | Book ReviewThe Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
Published by Feiwel and Friends on November 3, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?

I’ve become quite the Jenn Bennett fangirl this year (starting with Starry Eyes), so I’d been eager to read her oldest YA title, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, to see where it all began. One thing I really love about Jenn is that she comes up with unique story lines that don’t include the typical cookie cutter characters and the typical tropes and themes. She really thinks outside the box, and I appreciate that so much because I’ve been feeling lately that I’m losing interest in YA contemporary romance. It’s all so similar, and the stories have all been told over and over again. This one is different, though, and in a very wonderful way. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Beatrix (Bex) is a medical artist. Basically, her dream is to draw extremely accurate drawings of bodies for medical publications. Interesting, right? Many teens sneak away at night to go to parties or movies, but Bex sneaks away to the hospital to draw cadavers. She’s doing this in the hopes of winning an art scholarship. I love slightly nerdy, unique heroines because they are so accepting and easy to relate to. Bex was so much fun to read about. She’s determined to get what she wants, and pushes back in the face of opposition.

2. Jack is the absolute cutest. He’s immediately interested in Bex, even though she’s not even interested in giving him the time of day. Puking in the bushes after drawing her first cadaver didn’t even chase him away. This is the kind of guy a girl needs. He’s one of San Francisco’s most wanted criminals, and he’s also the mayor’s son. Interesting, right!? He’s a very talented graffiti artist, and when you find out his motivation behind his art you’ll pretty much melt. He admires Bex’s creativity, and they bond over art, family troubles, and the excitement of being rebellious together. They are just way too cute.

3. There’s a lot of heavy themes in this story, that are nicely balanced by the silliness of two teens falling in love. Bex’s dad walked out on his family for another one. Now she and her mom and older brother live in a small place together. Bex’s room is in the dining room and her brother lives in the cement covered basement. They love each other, but have heir problems. Jack’s family has covered up mental illness to protect his dad’s image, and I love the sensitivity and realness of how mental illness is portrayed. Bex and Jack both struggle with life, and have both had to grow up quicker than many other teens. This made their relationship feel deeper to me. They have some of the best banter!

4. The romance is so sweet. In the very beginning neither of them knew much of anything about the other. Jack didn’t even know Bex’s name at first, and got to know her through her online portfolio. Then he stalked her on social media (in a cute, non-creepy way of course), and started strategically bumping into her. Things simmered for a while and built up to something really great. Their feelings felt so real and genuine to me. I love how relentlessly he pursued her.

All in all, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart is a swoony little package of happy. I love this bookish couple, the family dynamics, the unique subject matter, and the feelings. I highly recommend this sweet story to anyone who is looking for a little something different from their contemporary YA.

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8 responses to “The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett | Book Review

  1. We must be kindred spirits – I read this book on Sunday for similar reasons. I enjoyed it so much! Bex and Jack are #relationshipgoals. I do not always enjoy contemporary romances, but Jenn Bennett has a way of pulling me into the moment like no other. I’ve been considering trying out her other work, but I’m not really an urban fiction fan.
    Leigha @ Shelfleigh recently posted…Kill The Queen: Call Me Intrigued

    • Jana

      Yay, I’m so glad you enjoyed this one too! While I did not love Alex, Approximately, I loved this one and Starry Eyes. I do agree that Jenn Bennett is wonderful at really pulling you into a story. I’ve also been considering her other work, but I’m really not an urban fiction fan either. I hope she keeps writing YA! I just received Serious Moonlight for review, and am very excited!

  2. I fell in love with Bennett via her two latest releases, and finally read this book (like a week ago). Yes to everything you said! I loved Jack and Bex, and their romance, and the whole book was perfection.

  3. I feel you about the YA Contemporary Romance. It is VERY formulaic and I hate that. This one sounds really great though!! I love the idea of a character that wants to draw bodies. That’s really interesting. I’m on the fence about this author bc I didn’t LOVE Alex, Approximately. That book was 100+ more pages than I needed considering there was no mystery as to who Alex was.
    Michelle @ Pink Polka Dot Books recently posted…Broken Things by Lauren Oliver– She’s Baaaaack!!!!

    • Jana

      Michelle, you must read it!! I was also not a fan of Alex, Approximately, but this one and Starry Eyes were major wins for me!

  4. I tend to shy away from contemporary – YA or otherwise – and I think a lot of the reason is because of how formulaic they often feel. I love a strong family dynamic and a nerdy protagonist though, so it sounds like this has some elements I would really enjoy!
    Kelly recently posted…The Beginning