After watching Nabibliomania’s September Wrap Up video on BookTube a few weeks ago, I immediately added this book to my TBR list and went ahead to buy my own copy. I must be honest; if I never watched her video I doubt I would’ve made much of an effort to read it, all because of a simple reason: it is compared to John Green and Rainbow Rowell’s books on the cover. And if you’ve read my “Unpopular Opinions Tag” then you’ll know I’m not a real fan of either. So this was quite the leap of faith on my part, and I’m so happy I took the chance with this book.
John Green meets Rainbow Rowell in this irresistible story of first love, broken hearts, and the golden seams that put them back together again.
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.
As soon as I started reading this book, I was completely hooked. I fell in love with the narration by the main character, Henry; who was quirky and funny albeit a little naive which only added to his boyish charm. I thoroughly enjoyed the dialogue between Henry and the rest of the characters in the story – it was hilarious and so much fun to read. I also found the references to Taylor Swift, SnapChat and Harry Potter to be a wonderful touch to the story, which made it effortless to form a connection with the book. I haven’t experienced this in many YA books which is weird considering that these things are so relevant to our lives today.
I was quite surprised (and very much excited) when I learned that this book was written from a boy’s perspective; because in most young adult books of this subject matter, it will be told from a girl’s point of view – or from the pov of the person who is suffering through the ordeal. It was interesting to experience things from the outside because it made you try harder to understand what’s happening and to go along with Henry on this quest to find love. It didn’t give away too much, which was wonderful! The reader gets to interpret the thoughts of Henry for a change, a character who is doing the sympathizing instead of the one whose grieving. I found it refreshing to read the story from his perspective.
Our Chemical Hearts was divided into two parts for me: the easy, fun read, and the heavy, emotional read. I found the first half of the book to be quite fluffy and light-hearted; until the second half came about and the story took on a rather intense tone. On the lighter note we get to experience wonderful relationship dynamics between family and friends, the ups and downs of first love and ordinary teen drama that always makes things more interesting. And once the switch is flipped, we get to read about deeper emotional issues; such as coping with grief, understanding the meaning of life and finding redemption. Looking back on it now, it seems like quite a dramatic switch, so it’s rather impressive that Krystal Sutherland manages to keep it honest and realistic.
The reason I didn’t give Our Chemical Hearts a full five star rating was because about half way through the book I became more than a little frustrated with Henry. I realize this is unfair of me to say because I could understand why he was so unsure of himself and why he questioned every move he made; it was a very realistic picture of the overall situation. It wouldn’t have been believable if he was completely sure of what he was doing, so I appreciate the sentiment behind what was done but it still doesn’t change that I found it to be slightly irritating. I also thought he was quite unreasonable in some of his thoughts concerning Grace’s past; but I guess it adds towards the reader’s understanding of his lack of experience in these circumstances.
That being said, I haven’t read a YA book quite like this one in a while. It was fun yet serious; light hearted but deep and it contrasts itself around every turn. I loved the narrator and his friends, my heart broke for Grace, and Henry’s family was just so darn cool! His sister, Sadie, is such an enigma; and her thoughts on love were absolutely stunning. It’s been some time since I formed such a connection with characters from a young adult contemporary.
I can understand why Our Chemical Hearts is compared with the likes of John Green and Rainbow Rowell, the story takes on quite a similar tone. You’d think this kind of story is overdone and boring, but really Krystal Sutherland took an old story and made it new by bringing in its own unique twist. It was short and sweet, and such a heart warming read.
I gave Our Chemical Hearts 4.8/5 stars on Goodreads.