“Our Chemical Hearts” by Krystal Sutherland
G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 320 pages, $17.99, 2016, Goodreads
There is something about a book with a male narrator that I can’t resist. For me it doesn’t happen that often and when it does usually the authors are also male, but that is not the case in Krystal Sutherland’s debut novel. This book is special, but I believe it’s even more special because of it’s unique circumstances of having a female author in the guise of a male narrator. It helped to remind me that boys have feelings too.
Henry Page is your typical senior in high school. He’s stressing about all the normal things teenagers stress about at this moment in their lives: college, trying to prove to teachers he’s not his older sister, and, most of all, trying to become editor of his school newspaper. However, when his teacher decides to put two people in charge of the newspaper, Henry starts on an emotional journey with his co-editor Grace Town. Grace is weird. She wears boys’ clothes, walks with a cane, and just doesn’t really seem to care. Henry can’t help but be drawn to her.
Henry’s story isn’t just about love and heartbreak, but about life and all it’s crazy little dips and turns. Sutherland provides a likeable narrator with likeable friends and family. There isn’t a flat character in sight. She captures the truly torturous feeling of what its like being in high school and in a deep, intense relationship at the same time. She knows what happens to the soul after your first love, and while reading this book, I was taken back to my high school love affair. Henry’s story reminded of the importance of those lessons I learned at that time in my life, and by the end of the book Henry realizes their significance too.
I highly recommend this book to someone who is not looking for a conventional love story; someone who likes things messy instead of neat; who prefers real human emotions splattered on pages. Honestly, I picked up this book because of it’s beautiful cover, but I stayed for the story, characters, message. I know you will too.
Krystal Sutherland can be found on Goodreads, Twitter at @km_sutherland, and Instagram at @km_sutherland. She has easily become one of my favorite authors and I will definitely keep my eye out for anything she writes in the future.