A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
A glimpse of what it's like to be an artist who draws for anatomy textbooks. Mentions of anatomical drawings in works by da Vinci and Michelangelo, especially "The Creation of Adam" in the Sistine Chapel, and famous anatomical artist Max Brödel. "Distichiasis" defined. Brief explanation of golden apple of discord in Greek mythology. A clever solution for going somewhere with someone you don't know very well. Information about the San Francisco Art Institute and some of the famous artists associated with it. Some geography, climate, and landmarks of San Francisco and the Bay Area.
Taking risks is always worthwhile because it makes you feel more alive. Everything we do in life affects someone else. Art shouldn't be practical; anatomical drawings can save lives by helping people become doctors, but there are other ways artists can save lives by affecting emotions.
Positive Role Models
Beatrix, 18 and a senior in high school, is an A student and talented artist. She thinks seriously about the future and what she wants to do with her life. At a party where teens are drinking, she prefers not to. She's loyal to and supportive of her older brother. She has a good relationship with her mother; her father is absent but trying to be part of his kids' lives. Love interest Jack is the perfect boyfriend, always knows just what Beatrix needs, and encourages Beatrix to get outside her safety zone.
Violence & Scariness
A couple of mentions of kicking "in the balls" in imaginary circumstances. A dead body donated to science is described without gore but in some detail. A past incident involving a stabbing and suicide attempt mention blood.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Frank discussions about sex through teens talking among themselves and between mother and daughter. Pornography, walking in on a threesome, and reading about female orgasm mentioned. Teens kiss, make out, and eventually have sex with some descriptive details such as caressing nipples, stiffening, and trying interesting positions; the sex itself isn't directly narrated. Always using condoms is mentioned, and the mother provides condoms for both her son and daughter.
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"S--t," "ass" and variations, "hell," "piss," "crap" and variations, "f--k," "damn," "balls," "d--kwad," "tits," "boobs," "bitch," "fag," "butt," and "whore."
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Products & Purchases
A few clothing and food products establish character or location.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Older brother who's 20 uses a fake ID to get into bars and nightclubs and drinks to excess. Teens at a house party have a keg, something that smells of "alcoholic fruitiness," and Fernet with ginger ale. A teen says she's "too buzzed to stand." An adult has wine in bed. Champagne mentioned a couple of times. Scoring weed mentioned. A hospital patient talks about medications, including one that she "gets a buzz" from. A teen with schizophrenia chain-smokes, and it's mentioned that a high percentage of people with schizophrenia smoke. Beatrix mentions that at 18 she's able to buy cigarettes.
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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."
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.