Author: Krystal Sutherland
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, YA
“I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”
There are those rare books where when I turn the last page not only am I completely speechless but I’m left with a sense that it was a book I didn’t know I needed until I read it. Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland has officially made the list of such books.
It’s a story of love. But at the same time, it isn’t.
It does tell a tale of how love can be powerful and disastrous in its many different forms, yes, but it’s also more complex than just that. It’s about grief and what that can do to a person. It’s about how we learn as we grow but make mistakes along the way. It’s about the effect we can have on each other and how some people are giant waves that leave an imprint on our lives forever and how some are just needles in a haystack. It’s about how you can’t just magically fix someone, how they have to want to get better on their own. Our Chemical Hearts is raw, realistic, and truthful.
This book is not your typical boy meets girl, boy saves girl, boy and girl fall in love and live happily ever after story. It’s more like boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, and well the rest you’ll have to read to find out.
Krystal Sutherland doesn’t sugarcoat things and the way she executes all of the above through her tale of Henry and his first experience with love stands out among most of today’s YA contemporary romances. In fact, I feel as if Our Chemical Hearts isn’t truly about romance (or even really a romance novel) it’s more about life.
However, at the same time, this book was hilarious and I laughed more than I cried. It’s full of witty, eccentric, and unique yet flawed characters who are each unforgettable in their own ways. I fell in love with every one of the characters in this book.
“I was a decent enough writer, but talking? With sounds? From my mouth? That was a bitch.”
Henry is quirky, adorable, awkward, hilarious, and self-deprecating. I liked him instantly and he had me laughing at almost every turn but then he had me crying because he broke my heart. The growth in him as a character from page one to the end is ginormous! In a way, he was a bit naïve, at first. And that might have been his biggest flaw but he surprises you.
“The rain was falling like bullets,” said Murray around his cigar, continuing his hardboiled narration of the evenings events in a fifties American accent. It was not, in fact, raining at all.”
Murray, dear god, he might have been the most eccentric of the bunch but he was also the most unique. He had me cracking up at the silliest things, but then I also worried for his sanity. His obsession with his ex-girlfriend was a bit out there, but he was an incredible friend.
“Life is a crapfest and you’re having a really, really tough time, but you can’t go down with the ship. Get in a lifeboat. Shape up or ship out.”
Lola was my absolute favorite! She’s completely badass and a friend that isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. She doesn’t wrap things in a pretty box – if you’re fucking up she’ll let you know. But she also has a huge heart of gold and when you do screw up she doesn’t say “I told you so” she’s just there for you. I honestly wish Lola was real so she could be my best friend!
“Grace Town is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”
Grace broke my heart more than anyone. I really felt for her and her situation. The hand that life decided to deal her wasn’t pretty. However, at her best, she was this mysterious, quirky, and intriguing character. I don’t feel as if we even fully got to scratch the surface of her, there are things we never got to know. But I think that was the author’s point.
I didn’t know what to think of Sadie at first. We learn that she is (literally) a brilliant person who was a delinquent in her youth. She set a classroom kitchen at her school on fire on purpose once. Who does that!? However, you learn just how much she cares for her baby brother (Henry) and how she is willing to do anything for him. I admired her and wish she was my big sister.
Henry’s parents – the only, minor, problem I had with this book. They were not bad parents, at all. In fact, they were so loving, accepting, and understanding. However, they kept some things from Henry that they probably shouldn’t have. I also didn’t agree with the aspect of them letting him do whatever, whenever. They were the perfect example of cliché absentee YA parents, which is something I’m very eh about.
That aside, my favorite aspect of this book was the friendship between Henry, Lola, and Murray. Those three were the perfect example of an incredible (hopefully lifelong) friendship. They were just there for each other through the ups and downs, through their mistakes, and they found ways to build each other back up. It was beautiful and the kind of friendship you want to have in your life.
“I love that even though I failed to make it onto the bus and was possibly dead and/or dying, you two still saw fit to come to my house, eat my food, and play my games without me.”
This book is marketed, via Goodreads, as being a John Green meets Rainbow Rowell type of book. While I agree that it had me feeling reminiscent of Paper Towns at times it is essentially nothing like any of the books either of the above authors have written. It is its own unique and complex being and I loved it for that alone.
“I wondered, in that moment, if it was possible for human beings to go supernova – my atoms felt like they were emitting a shock wave of heat and light as they came unstuck from each other.”
I especially love all of the science and space metaphors that Krystal Sutherland wrapped up into it. I didn’t completely agree with some of them – they were a bit cynical for my taste. But I admired them and how they flowed and how they really showcased how incredible the author’s writing is as well as the personalities she was forming within each character.
“It’s all just chemical hearts. Does that make love any less brilliant? I don’t think so.”
If you love books that are hilarious, truthful, and realistic. If you don’t mind books that break your heart and put it back together. Then Our Chemical Hearts is the perfect book for you. It’s a quick, powerful, and unforgettable read. I highly recommend it and I can’t wait to see whatever the author has in store for us with her future books!
What did you think of my review? Are you excited for Our Chemical Hearts?