Saturday, 28 January 2017

Our Chemical Hearts - Krystal Sutherland | | Book Review



"It's a shame people can't be melded back together with gold seams."

In this beautifully heartbreaking young adult novel we meet Henry Page and Grace Town. Their story is one of first love, grief, humour, heartbreak and tragedy. Although there's some perfect scenes between Henry and Grace it's not all about happy endings.

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to go to a talk and signing with author Krystal Sutherland at my local Waterstones. Meeting Krystal and hearing her talk about her book, Harry Potter and the craft of writing truly inspired me. With the talk being my first bookish event I was nervous, probably didn't help I went alone. We spoke about writing, my creative writing degree and my writing plans. She then signed my copy of her gorgeous book, adding something a little personal that now means a lot to me. "Keep writing."



Back to the book. I was immediately interested upon discovering Sutherland had opted to write in the perspective of a teenage boy. Hearing the story, especially a story of first love from a boys perspective is something I've never come across before, I felt it important because men are often mocked in society for being openly honest about their feelings. Henry Page has never been in love and he wants to feel it all, like me he is a hopeless romantic dreaming of handwritten love letters and over the top declarations of love. Henry officially meets Grace Town when they are both chosen to edit the schools newspaper, a position a Henry has always wanted. Their friendship isn't perfect, I mean, is anyone's? Theirs can be tense, awkward and uncomfortable, yet caring, adorable and fun too. 

Grace Town is a mystery to everyone around her. She's new to the school and there's speculation as to why she decided to move schools in senior year. Grace wears boys clothing, doesn't seem to care much for her appearance and walks with a cane. I loved the diversity of Grace, she walks with a cane after an accident and it's so so SO important to create and accurately portray characters of diversity. 

Henry wants to find out why she is the way she is. One thing that irritated me throughout their budding relationship is that Henry has created a perfect Grace in his head and when she doesn't play the exact role of this dreamy Grace he is upset and I feel he projects his anger on her. I can fully understand the way she acts around him, a bit on and off, mixed signals and all. Henry is trying to make sense of his feelings, falling in love is a confusing thing, and falling in love as a teenager for the first time is sure to make a mess of both your head and heart. 

One of my favourite moments is when Henry and Grace go on an adventure. She takes him to such a stunning location, a secluded, unused stream train line with a station building, unfortunately partly flooded. Grace throws pieces of bread into the water attracting fantastic silver fish. They dip their feet in the water. They talk about their existence on Earth, how we're all just atoms on this universe. Grace's character was fascinating to me, her attitudes towards life, her philosophical views on our existence stuck with me.

SPOILER!!!! perhaps a spoiler, maybe. I liked how this book didn't end how you might have wanted it to end. Things in life don't always work out, but that's okay, we can all learn to move on. But Henry's longing for Grace, his infatuation for her breaks my heart. The ending moved me and opened my eyes to things not going to plan doesn't necessary mean the end of the world. Although I had my problems with Henry, his expectations and ideals for the perfect girl but, dear lord, did I feel for him. I felt every emotion he did.

If there's anything I want now is more of Krystal Sutherland's writing. It is gorgeous!