A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Anatomical Shape of a Heart is a teen romance about a smart, artistic 18-year-old and the mysterious, slightly dangerous boy she meets one night taking the late bus home. There's kissing and making out with some detailed description, and teens have sex although it's not directly described. The importance of always using a condom is stressed. A past incident involving a stabbing and a suicide attempt mention blood, and a cadaver donated to science is described with some detail but no gore; otherwise there's no violence. Narrator Beatrix is a positive role model, but she goes against her mother's wishes in pursuit of an art project, sneaks around, and lies about what she's doing. Eventually the truth comes out, and Beatrix is grounded. Jack is the ideal boyfriend, loyal and supportive. He's a graffiti artist; we learn he has a strong, positive motive for it. There's lots of strong language, most often "s--t," "ass," and "crap."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
No one knows THE ANATOMICAL SHAPE OF A HEART better than Beatrix. She's always been fascinated by anatomy and wants to channel her artistic talent into illustrating anatomy for medical textbooks. She also knows that any hope she has of going to college hinges on winning an anatomical art competition for the $10,000 grand prize. On her way home late one night, she meets Jack at the bus stop, and sparks immediately fly between them. Jack has his own secrets, though, such as the identity of his "lady friend" he visits at the hospital regularly. As they spend more time together, Jack starts drawing Beatrix out of her comfort zone, encouraging her to take more risks in life. But how do you know if the risk will be worth it?
Is it any good?
Veteran author Jenn Bennett's YA debut introduces an engaging, quirky heroine whom teens will enjoy rooting for as she navigates the thrills and confusion of her first serious relationship. Romance fans will sigh right along with Beatrix at swoon-worthy Jack, and they'll easily relate to the ups and downs of her life on the verge of big changes. Author Bennett also touches on art and its place in society, and although this is not deeply explored, it will provide teens with food for thought.
The plot moves along well, and the sights and moods of San Francisco are ably evoked. It's a solidly written, enjoyable story but lacks a real spark or fine touch that could elevate it above the romance genre.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why romances have been so popular throughout history and still today. Why do we love them so much?
Beatrix claimed she had a good reason to sneak out. How could she have handled the situation differently? What would have happened if she'd asked her mom first?
Do you think Jack's graffiti is art or vandalism? What's the difference? How can you tell?
- Author: Jenn Bennett
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
- Publication date: November 3, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 13, 2017
Our editors recommend
For kids who love romance
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.