A Heart in A Body in the World – Deb Caletti

   A Heart in a Body in the World – Deb Caletti, Simon & Schuster, 9781481415200, 2018

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre:  Realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? “Anabelle Agnelli is trying to hold it together in the parking lot of Dick’s Drive-In.” But she can’t.  A recent tragedy has left Anabelle in the throes of a PTSD panic attack and all she knows is that she has to run. From this sad, angry beginning, comes an impromptu cross-country run that forces her to confront her fears and also shines a light on the depth of support she can count on from the people she loves. Caletti successfully merges a ripped from the headlines scenario with a story about a strong athlete, complete with technical information about clothing, training and Camelbacks (confession: I did not know what Body-Glide was before reading this book.) Each chapter is introduced by a series of facts about the human heart, gradually revealing Anabelle’s backstory and what awaits her at the end of her journey.

Anything you didn’t like about it? It takes a while to get going. Caletti wants Anabelle’s story to unfold gracefully, but I was confused for the first third of the book.  Names are dropped; you know they’re important, but the reader is left waiting, waiting, waiting for the big reveal. Spoiler alert: the book is about the aftermath of a school shooting. Although the book is moving, I’ve never had a student ask me for a novel about this topic.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine, although aimed at a slightly younger audience, reminded me of this book because of its focus on the survivors rather than the incident or the shooter.  

Who should buy this book? High schools and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it ? Young adult

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: October 10, 2018


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