Heartbeat, by Elizabeth Scott.
"Did you two have a nice chat?" he says, bending over to kiss Mom.
I stare at him.
He must feel it because he straightens up, clearing his throat, and pats Mom's stomach. "Look how big he's getting. Lisa, he's growing so much." Mom doesn't say anything, not even to that.
She's dead. Machines are keeping her alive. They breathe for her. They feed her. They regulate her whole body.
My mother is dead, but Dan is keeping her alive because of the baby.
Elizabeth Scott tends to write YA fiction that delves a little deeper than your typical YA, and Heartbeat is no exception. Emma wants to say goodbye to her mother, who is brain-dead - but she can't, because her stepfather is keeping her alive so that their son, still growing in her belly, can live.
Life. Death. And...Love?
Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.
But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.
Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.
Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?
I've read other books by Elizabeth Scott (and reviewed one, as well) and this is one of her best novels yet. The situation that Emma faces is unusual, yet there have been similar cases in the news lately; where a mother or woman is brain-dead, but her child is still living and growing inside her. What is there to do in that situation?
Emma's stepfather, Dan, decides to keep her mother alive, body-wise, so that her half-brother might have a chance to survive. Emma is angry at him for doing this, but later realizes it's not because she hates her unborn brother or anything like that; it's because he never consulted her before making this decision.
I liked this novel a lot. It still has a teen romance in it, like most YA books, but it's woven in amongst the angst Emma feels about having her mother in limbo - here, yet not here. I was going to give the novel 4 out of 5 stars but a few situations did seem to repeat throughout, so it does get a lesser rating from me; however, I would recommend it for fans of YA fiction and anybody who likes a good story.
3.5 stars out of 5.
*Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from NetGalley for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.