*Thanks again to Candlewick Press for sending me an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
The premise of “Hearts Unbroken“ sounded amazing. We have Louise Wolf, our female main character, who is a Native teen trying to deal with high school and the problems that come with first love. She’s a confident girl who doesn’t take shit from her boyfriend when he insults Native people in front of her and just dumps him via email, also because she’d much rather spend time with friends and family or on the school newspaper anyway.
When I first read the synopsis of this book, I knew immediately that I wanted to read it and hoped it would be as good as I thought it would be. But unfortunately, books sometimes just don’t live up to their synopsis.
I want to start with what I liked about “Hearts Unbroken” before I get into what bothered me about it and lead to my low rating. First of all, this book deals with such an important and interesting topic that we just don’t see a lot in literature. I loved how the main character, her family and other characters were Native Americans. As a European, I have to admit that I don’t know a lot about this group of people that unfortunately is just so underrepresented in literature and I really enjoyed learning more about their culture. Second of all, this was also such a quick read. I pretty much flew through it and if I’d had the time to just sit down and read it in one go, I think I could’ve easily finished it in under three hours.
But that’s already everything that I had on my list of positive things about “Hearts Unbroken” and everything else about this book was pretty disappointing. My biggest problem with this novel was definitely the writing. This may sound harsh, but if this hadn’t been an ARC, I don’t think I would’ve ever read the novel because at the end of its first page, I already knew that the writing just absolutely wasn’t for me. “Hearts Unbroken” was very poorly written which I think was also the main reason why I just never really got into the story.
Furthermore, I also really disliked how short most of the chapters were. Usually, I’m someone who definitely prefers shorter chapters over long ones, but Smith just often tended to end chapters at very important points and just threw the reader into a completely different scene which really interrupted the reading flow. Also, the chapters that were longer were usually just longer when Louise did interviews for the school newspaper and while I found some of her articles quite interesting, I often felt like I was just reading someone’s summary of their journalistic work instead of a proper novel about Louise’s life.
One last thing I then really had a problem with concerns the characters in this book. Firstly, there are way too many characters in this novel. In almost every chapter new characters – that ultimately aren’t even important to the story – are introduced and at the end of the book, I still hadn’t fully understood who was who. Secondly, there was also zero character development for many of the main characters in this book which was quite sad because I feel like if Smith hadn’t added quite as many characters to the book, she would’ve easily had time to focus more on those that were important for the actual story the novel tells.
So altogether, this was a book that deals with a very important topic but that is just very poorly written. If this had just once again been about some random topic you find in so many other YA contemporaries, I would’ve without a doubt only rated this one star. But due to the premise of this novel and because I definitely learned some interesting things while reading it, I decided to give it two out of five stars.