Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: The Heartbeat Hypothesis by Lindsey Frydman

Title: The Heartbeat Hypothesis
Series: Standalone
Author: Lindsey Frydman
Release date: March 20, 2017
Cliffhanger: No
Rating: 3 stars

Audra Madison simply wanted to walk in the shoes of Emily Cavanaugh, a free-spirited teenager who died too young. After all, Audra wasn’t supposed to be here.

Thanks to Emily, Audra has a second chance at life. She’s doing all the things that seemed impossible just two years ago: Go to college. Date. Stargaze in the Rocky Mountains. Maybe get a tattoo. You know, live.

Jake Cavanaugh, a photographer with mysterious, brooding gray eyes, agrees to help chronicle her newfound experiences. She makes him laugh, one of the only people who can these days. As they delve into each other’s pasts – and secrets – the closer they become.

But she’s guarded and feels like she can’t trust anyone, including herself.
And he’s struggling with the fact that his beloved sister’s heart beats inside her.

Purchase here: Amazon | Paperback | B&N |  iBooks | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

When I first picked this book up, I thought it would a fluffy, possibly steamy read. That didn't turn out to be the case at all. Don't get me wrong, it starts out more on the light and feel-good side, but quickly I realized that there was more to the story than the premise implies. Audra, our heroine, received a life saving heart transplant two years before and suddenly the world is open to limitless possibilities. She no longer has to live one day at a time, just clinging to hope and a promise of a real future. Unfortunately, it came at the cost of her heart donor Emily's life and the guilt that comes along with that isn't easy to let go of. So she reaches out to Emily's brother Jake with a plan to enlist his help and come to peace with her gift.

A girl I didn’t know, could never know, was dead, and her tragedy had suddenly become my blessing. It felt…wrong. And it would’ve been foolish to sit around and do nothing about it.

Audra and Jake meet and make a plan to re-create his sister's photographs in order for Audra to "walk in her shoes" through her experiences. At first, I was seeing this solely as a healing process for the two of them while they developed feelings for one another. Simple, cut and dry. Well, I discovered that this was heading down a little bit of a darker path. Jake was moody, broody, and not very communicative. There were brief flashes from him, he'd give her a little bit of himself and then retreat all over again. He offers to give her piano lessons, and then eventually stands her up when their feelings start to blur past friendship. There is clearly something in his past that he's hiding, something that he's unwilling to share that's making him feel incapable of offering Audra love.

There were times we didn’t need words. That was part of why I liked hanging out with him so much. On good days, it felt like our souls had been friends for a very long time, like we knew exactly how to be around each other.

Audra is crushing hard on him, but their relationship is filled with secrets and complications. I enjoyed her at first, I thought she was a little bit awkward and sweet and her idea to honor Emily was commendable. But later, she started behaving...I don't know what else to call it but immature. First with her peeking at his very private journal and then hiding that fact. On one hand, I understand that he's not exactly being open with why he's keeping his distance, but that was such an invasion. What she discovered was more than a little disturbing, and she just somehow told herself to brush it under the rug as well.

But worse, when he finally does open up to her, she goes behind his back once again and uses the confidence he gave her to start snooping in the mystery surrounding his family.  This is where things started to go a little OTT for my taste. I'm not going to go into what occurs after this, but what happens with his family was really out of left field. And I didn't feel as if anything was explained or resolved conclusively.

Now that I'm writing this review, I'm seeing that there was more that bothered me than I realized and I'm going to have to change my rating again. I've been all over the place, very conflicted about how I feel. I think the premise was a promising one, and I liked that it led me in a different direction than I anticipated. It was unpredictable. The writing was engaging and the characters dealt with serious life and death issues, some were addressed with delicacy. For example, the unexpected tragic twist with Audra around the middle of the book I really appreciated. Her emotions and reactions felt genuine and were emotionally complex. But when it came to Jake's history, and how that story arc unfolded, that's where it lost me.

I admire this author's writing and I'd definitely give a different book of hers a chance, but I think that all the pieces of this one didn't quite fit right for me. It's hard, because there really was a lot I liked here, just not consistently. If you're looking for a New Adult book with mystery, and a tortured, brooding hero then this could very well be the book for you. There were lighthearted moments, as well as introspective and emotional. I'll be keeping my eye on this author in the future.


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