November 16, 2015

Book Review: The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

The Anatomical Shape of a HeartThe Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
Rating: /5

Genre: Young Adult (Contemporary)
Pub. Date: November 3rd 2015

Get a copy here!

Having a plot that basically similar to most YA books nowadays: gorgeous flawed boy falls for a geek girl, it could've been easy to overlook The Anatomical Shape of a Heart. BUT before you do that, it's better to let me elaborate why I did finish this book anyway and even gave a quite high rating for it in the end.

Seventeen years going on eighteen, Beatrix Adams was a quirky unpopular girl with unique passion in art. She set her eyes on anatomy drawing, wishing to be a professional artist in medical field one day. So Bex―as her family called her―determined to make a first step toward that dream this summer by taking up a challenge of an art contest which could be a big advantage for her future college, both as achievement and financial support with the money prize. Being her focus self, Bex made sure that nothing could get in the way as she tried hard finding every possible help to make things work. That’s including going behind her mom’s back to draw dissected cadaver as her art object. One of her sneaky nights led her to meet Jackson Vincent, a good-looking boy all clad in black. Bex was instantly drawn to his playfulness, charmingly-different reaction to her confession, and mysterious vibe radiating from Jack’s wholeness. And by the time Jack’s stop had to cut short their brief encounter that night, Bex had already discovered one of his many secrets. Bex knew that Jack was more than just a random boy riding a night bus yet she couldn’t restrain from being pulled into his ‘black hole’. What should have been a summer of missions turned into a quest of happiness, acceptance, recognition, and love for both Bex and Jack. And for the first time in their life, the summer wouldn’t be an easy one.

Best YA Couple
Bex and Jack are unique and easy-to-love characters. Jenn Bennet builds the characters in rich details and complexities making it seem alive. For a YA book, their characters excellently put most characters their age to shame. Both Bex and Jack are so in control with their own self and have a clear vision toward their dream of the future. It’s rare to find this in most YA lately. And what rarer is how these characters are so mature in their relationship. Both could be aggressive and laid-back in addressing any situation. There are times when Bex would be the ‘explosive’ one, and that’s when Jack would put his hand on her shoulder and says the right thing to calm her down. I love the dynamic of their relationship so much. There’s no need of repetitive drama. There would be times when things get rough, but Bex and Jack knows better not to prolong the drama and just let the other finishes unleashing their frustration before sitting down and talk about it together. Bex and Jack promise us the possibility of building strong and meaningful relationship from such young age with the right persons.

Bex used to be all about running mission in sharp focus before Jack. She couldn’t accept distractions. The ones she allows would simply float in her minds and no way has she let it out. It’s utterly ridiculous and somehow embarrassing to read her mind that’s filled up with her out-of-character thoughts, especially those about Jack. Everything changes since that first encounter on a night bus when Jack teaches her that it’s okay to go out of her comfort zone and take a risk because ‘feeling alive is always worth the risk’. And take a risk, she does. With Jack, with her dad, with her mom, with her project and future. I appreciate how Bex handles every issue in her life. She might not pick the right decision all the time, but she takes a risk, she discovers the truth and learns to accept it.

Jack himself is a Buddhist which he wisely tries to immerse in his way of seeing life: to ‘do no harm’―which he amends to ‘make as minimum harm as possible’. I am touched by what his seventeen years-old self decides to do to bring happiness on his loved ones. His clearly not the best decision―it’s rather illegal, I might add―, yet the implied message here is so deep and somehow understandable. His playfulness camouflages the sadness and pain he actually has within. But Bex ‘brings out the best in him’ that every time they’re together Jack’s fun personality could make an appearance as he could momentarily forget that he has a lot of secrets to keep.

What makes The Anatomical Shape of a Heart even more stand-out is how sex-positive this book is. There’s an interesting conversation between several girls where some of them judge others by her sex life but it’s balanced out with the rest of them who disagree about it. The ‘it takes two to tango’ reply cleverly points out that both girls and boys share equal parts in taking responsibility of what they do; and not that girls always on the blame. Another thing is I like how Bex and Jack practically conduct sex-positive trait. Instead of going ‘straight to the point’, Jack is eager to talk about it first with Bex.
“If we can’t talk about it, how can we do it?”
They end up sharing their history, not to judge them but to find out each other’s preference. They try to understand their own needs and what it means for them and their relationship. The author successfully handles this issue very well. And this thing Jack said in the end makes me all melting inside… :3
“If it’s not good, tell me. Don’t just get angry and resent me. I’d rather us not do anything and keep what we have now than screw things up between us. Okay?”
My Issue(s)
Other than everything above, I love the dynamic of Bex’s family and how Bex’s relationship with her mom is handled. What bothers me is how it goes between Bex and her dad. The chemistry of their relationship is practically non-existent and it annoys me how her dad acts on their first meet after years of his absences. I just wish that this part is presented much earlier on the book because from what I see it’s kind of rushed how it ends up at last. The ending is alright, yet I wish it would be less vague how Bex’ relationship with his dad plays out in the future.

Most importantly, Jack and Bex’s passion of art is the highlight of the story. Their love for art is so obvious and plays a big role on their character developments, too. I love how the author uses art to lead the plot as well. It made the whole story to have one focus to thread each element, creating a neat and tight connection within the story.

Final Thoughts
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart brings a cliché theme of young romance into a unique story thrown in tons of positive messages. It’s not just about how two people fall in love but how two people walk together, side by side, facing complexity of circumstances, communicating, understanding, caring, taking care of each other. With a smooth and engaging writing, this book would make an enjoyable positive read with lovable characters.

Love, read, and review,
Cynthia D.


  1. Replies
    1. Christine, hi!
      Thanks for visiting my blog :)

      Have you read this one? This book has a bunch of positive sides, you should read it if you haven't!