Title: Our Chemical Hearts
By: Krystal Sutherland
Call #: YA Fiction Suthe.K
Our Chemical Hearts is not a pukey romance. Everything isn’t wrapped up in a bow and it’s not all warm and fuzzy. I think what really grabbed me about this book was the ending and its portrayal of love, contrasting the thought of being “in love” versus loving someone long term, and then loving someone for who they are versus who you want to love them into being.
We have Henry, a pretty deep, smart, quirky guy, and then there’s Grace, who arrives at the beginning of the school year. Grace is deep, smart and quirky, but she has also gone through major trauma. She was one thing in former life and now after the tragic death of her boyfriend she’s transformed into someone different. Grace and Henry fall in love, but is Henry in love with the girl he thinks Grace used to be, or the current version of Grace? And is Grace in love with Henry or with her ex boyfriend? Along with Grace and Henry we have Henry’s two besties Lola and Murray, and Henry’s older (wiser?) sister Sadie, who help Henry on his journey and try to bestow wisdom whether wanted or not on him.
The backdrop for this is senior year of high school. Grace and Henry have been assigned to co-edit the school newspaper, which is way to leave a lasting mark on their school. I liked that there a lot of strong female characters in this book and they do have their own stories they work to stay true to themselves in spite of their relationships.
Our Chemical Hearts has notes of Paper Towns, Eleanor & Park and All the Bright Places, but is still it’s own story. It’s not the best book ever written and I think some of the movies and books regularly alluded to are bits that bring in adult readers versus teens. It was a YA book I actually wanted to finish to see where the author was going with her story, but not something I needed to read closely. I did like the realistic flawedness (making up words I know) of Grace. Also – a refreshing diverse set of characters and they didn’t feel tokenish or that they were used to check off boxes.