Summary (from the publisher):
Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.Jack is charming, wildly attractive, and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in her family’s closet tear them apart?
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Jenn Bennett’s books- did I mention here before that Serious Moonlight and Starry Eyes are two of my all-time favorite YA contemporaries? And that I have much for love for Alex, Approximately? AND that I am so happy that I have my hands on a ARC of The Lady Rogue??That being said, it was time to read the only published YA book of hers I haven’t read, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart.
Less than 300 pages long, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart is the perfect way to escape to summertime San Francisco. We follow eighteen year old and rising high school senior, Beatrix, and her budding romance with graffiti artist, Jack. Beatrix is a very responsible and fairly independent protagonist. I’ve read a few books that take place in San Francisco, but Jenn Bennett really sets the scene between SF’s artistic scene, and yes, its public transportation system (thank you to Stephanie Perkin’s Lola and the Boy Next Door for giving me some prep on BART!). A personal like, but I also loved Beatrix’s summer job as a grocery store cashier. This has been one of my own summer jobs and being that so many teens find themselves working in the same place, it was such a cool and relatable element.
One of my favorite elements of Jenn Bennett’s books is the characters’ maturity. Beatrix is a fairly independent and responsible protagonist, which for better or worse, gave more space for her relationship with Jack to grow. Regarding intimacy, Jenn Bennett does not shy away from intimate scenes and romance. While there wasn’t too much heavy romance in The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, I loved the mature discussions about sex between Beatrix and Jack. As someone who has been reading new adult more and more, I love seeing positive conversations about sex grow in YA.
Although The Anatomical Shape of a Heart is classified as YA romance, Beatrix and Jack’s relationship did not feel insta-lovey. Despite that they do spend much of the book together, they learn so much about each other, their past relationships and their families before any true intimacy or declarations of love. Readers are also acquainted with the duo’s family and personal lives. Much of the book touches on Beatrix’s life as the daughter of a single working mother and her strained relationship with her father. And of course, there is so much about art!
I also love Jenn Bennett’s books for her character’s uniqueness. I think it’s safe to say that this is the first book I’ve read where the main character wants to be a medical artist, aka draw cadavers. I think we all love relatable characters, but having such a unique character like Beatrix- do you have a model skeleton as bedroom décor?- makes for a fun reading experience. Beatrix’s interest in this form of artistry is something I know little about and while I can be a bit squeamish about anatomy, i.e. blood, I found Beatrix’s interest to be really cool. And as a squeamish person, I had no trouble reading any part of the book when it came to Beatrix’s medical drawing. Readers who love books about art or artists, like Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun or Kasie West’s Love, Life, and the List, will especially adore this one. I actually think this book is a nice blend of those two titles when it does come to the art!
Overall, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart is a cute summertime read featuring family, romance and art that is perfect for beach binge reading. I absolutely adore Jenn Bennett’s YA books and couldn’t be more excited for The Lady Rogue this fall and her next untitled YA contemporary.
Have you read The Anatomical Shape of a Heart or any books by Jenn Bennett? Share in the comments !