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Does life go on when your heart is broken?

Since her mother's sudden death, Emma has existed in a fog of grief, unable to let go, unable to move forward—because her mother is, in a way, still there. She's being kept alive on machines for the sake of the baby growing inside her.

Estranged from her stepfather and letting go of things that no longer seem important—grades, crushes, college plans—Emma has only her best friend to remind her to breathe. Until she meets a boy with a bad reputation who sparks something in her—Caleb Harrison, whose anger and loss might just match Emma's own. Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death—and maybe, for love?

304 pages, Hardcover

First published January 28, 2014

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About the author

Elizabeth Scott

92 books3,460 followers
Hey there, I'm Elizabeth. I write young adult novels. I live just outside Washington DC with my husband and dog, and am unable to pass a bookstore without stopping and going inside.

All right, and I can't leave without buying at least one book.

Usually two. (Or more!)

My website and blog are at elizabethwrites.com, and I'm also on twitter, tumblr, and facebook

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 608 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,944 reviews292k followers
August 11, 2016
"That's what makes you angry. What makes you hate. You don't want to believe that sometimes bad things happen just because they do."

I liked this so much more than I thought I would. The reviews so far have been barely better than average and for someone like me who is ridiculously picky when it comes to romance-y type books (I am full of the technical book terms today), it was natural for me to be wary. But there is so much pain and anger and selfishness floating around in Heartbeat that it was hard to think of it as a YA romance novel at all. The romance is there, undoubtedly, but it felt secondary to the story of Emma's grieving.

How many YA novels have I read about grief in my life? Looking back, it feels like I've spent more hours reading YA sob stories than I have sleeping. Overall, I'm not the biggest fan. There's typically something so contrived about them... it almost always ends up being another The Fault in Our Stars scenario (IMO, don't kill me, nerdfighters!) where it feels like the author tried too hard. You can feel them trying to manipulate your emotions with the words and it stops being a story and starts being just pages with emotionally manipulative words written on them. But there was something refreshingly earnest about Heartbeat. Maybe it was the exceptionally unlikable main character or the fact that Scott didn't try to turn death into some kind of deep life lesson. Either way, it worked for me.

A quick glance at some of the more negative reviews tells me that a lot of people were put off by Emma and her anger, bitterness and selfishness. It's true, she isn't particularly likable. She lashes out at everyone and blames her stepfather for things that aren't his fault, and she resents him for grieving in his own way. Her emotions are not clean-cut or reasonable. Well, maybe this is a character flaw in myself, but I felt like I understood her. I can understand anger as an emotion. I am one of those annoying people who tends to channel certain negative emotions - like sadness or anxiety - into anger. It's easier to be angry, it doesn't feel good but it feels better. Anger is an emotion that makes you feel like you have some level of control, it is an emotion that YOU (the subject) are inflicting on someone or something else (the object). Unlike sadness which is something that happens to you, that is inflicted upon you. Anger makes you feel less helpless. Which is why I think I get it.

The story is about Emma and her mum who is dead... mostly. She is being kept alive by a life support machine in order to protect the baby living inside her - a decision made by Dan, Emma's stepfather. But Emma is angry at Dan. She's angry that he got to make the decision. She's angry that her mother's dead body is being used as an incubator. She's angry that Dan doesn't seem to understand her or care what her mother would have wanted. But mostly, behind it all, she's just sad. And I think, of all the books I've read about parental loss, this is one of the ones that touched me most. Especially when Emma visits her mum in the hospital and talks to her about her life - some of those bits kind of destroyed me.

Then there's the whole Caleb part of this book. I read the description which said "Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma" and I cringed inside. Oh no, not another, was pretty much all I could think. But Caleb isn't what I expected. I actually liked him a lot. And I also liked the understanding that grew between him and Emma.

I thought my love for Ms Scott was never going to extend past her dark and disturbing novella - Living Dead Girl - but I am so glad I was wrong.

Find me at:

Profile Image for Melissa.
184 reviews102 followers
June 24, 2013
I've never given a book one star before so bear with me...I'll try not to rant. I was expecting a Sarah Dessen-ish type book with a hard topic at the core, but with a lesson learned and some romance in between. And while this book had those components something went amiss in the execution.

It's kind of like baking a cake. If you add in the ingredients at the wrong time and too much or too little of even just one ingredient the end product is not quite right. It might still taste okay, but maybe it looks flat or isn't the right consistency. I feel that Contemporary books have a certain recipe that make them extraudinary and the author didn't even glance at it while concocting this book.

There was so much hurt and hatred in Heartbeat that was not balanced by the romance. It left me feeling angry and depressed pretty much the whole time. I was reading it in a hospital so that might have not helped, but all in all it was not an uplifting book. And when the character finally learns to move past her hateful emotions it is so random and quick that I was left in the dust confused. How can someone go from hating a person for days/months to forgiving them in one instant. It doesn't work like that.

Emma was just so selfish it disgusted me. She'd rather kill her baby sibling than let her mom be on life support for a few weeks. Plus, her stepfather is grieving and she's being incredibly disrespectful to him. Even at seventeen I would have NEVER said or done what she did and I've been through many a death in the family at much a younger age than that. So I had such a hard time connecting with her. Maybe it's just me, but I want to read strong female characters who even when their life is falling apart they pick themselves back up.

I did however like Caleb. He was the one thing that kept me reading. I wanted to know his back story and see how he helped Emma grow. I felt his character could have been explored more. Maybe a dual POV with a few chapters from his perspective could have helped the story feel a little less depressing.

I've read lots of other reviews and everyone seemed to love this book. I feel weird for not liking it, but I refuse to lie other readers for the sake of not getting booed. So my honest opinion: if you liked Elizabeth Scott's other books than try this one. If not or if you're like me and haven't read anything else of hers... skip it.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,161 followers
February 7, 2014
Heartbeat first came to my attention because of an influx of negative reviews. As a reader who has attempted a handful of Scott's issue novels in the past - unsuccessfully as I simply could not get past those first few depressing chapters - I've been anxious to find a novel of hers that was equal parts charming and heartfelt. Scott's work is, generally, liked which makes it difficult to sift through the praise to discover whether or not that particular novel of hers will work for me. Thus, the phrases thrown around about Heartbeat - particularly that is featured an utterly unlikable heroine - surprised me. And thrilled me. You see, if the masses love a novel, the chances practically guarantee that I will dislike it. (After all, "black sheep" is my other name!) Going by that philosophy, I took a gamble on Heartbeat: if other readers disliked it, there was an equally high probability that I wouldn't. And I was right.

Scott's latest isn't an easy novel to read. Yet, that being said, it also isn't as crushing as Living Dead Girl which makes it a good place to start with her work. It contains her tell-tale stance on issue novels, along with the inevitable weight of pain that accompanies her books, but it isn't overwhelming. Not quite. Heartbeat is, after all, a story of grief. YA suffers from no dearth of grief novels, but Scott's manages to be different from the typical take on mourning. Emma, the protagonist of our tale, visits her mother in the hospital everyday. Only, her mother is dead. All that remains is her body which is kept alive to ensure that Emma's unborn baby brother will survive. Dan, Emma's stepfather, took the decision to keep Emma's mother alive without even consulting her and, as such, Emma cannot help but cast Dan in the role of the villain. Emma's mother never had a choice in her situation and Emma, frankly, believes that her mother would have been happier if she were not being kept forcibly alive when she is, in fact, brain-dead.

While Emma is mourning her mother's death - while strangely not mourning her mother for she sees her everyday - life moves on, without her. Emma was once one of the most competitive students in her high school. Now, Emma can't find it in herself to care for anything as silly as homework, as papers, as school projects. Not when her stepfather has betrayed her, her mother is dead, and Emma is grieving. Olivia, Emma's best friend, is a pillar of support for her during this time. While Olivia's life still continues - school, crushes, assignments - she never hesitates to lend her shoulder for Emma to cry on when Emma needs it. Olivia keeps Emma grounded into reality, forcing her to keep from giving into the grief that lies inside. And Olivia is an exemplary best friend. Although she cannot understand Emma completely, she tries.

But sometimes, all Emma really wants is for someone to understand her. Enter: Caleb. Ever since his younger sister died by falling off her bike, Caleb has been the resident bad boy. From drugs and alcohol to stealing cars, Caleb is the real deal. When Emma first sees him in the hospital, her first instinct is to stay away. And then she allows herself to look at him - really look at him - and the grief she sees mirrored in his own eyes surprises her. Before long, Caleb and Emma are talking. Walking. Spending time together. Caleb and Emma's relationship is complicated, full of messy emotions. Both of them are brought together by their grief and their ability to understand one another. As Emma realizes, though, Caleb cannot heal her. Caleb has no magical words, no mysterious gifts to heal her pain. And that is okay.

As Caleb and Emma grow to like each other for who they are, outward appearances set aside, Emma's relationship with her stepfather grows increasingly volatile. And I get why readers don't like Emma. Emma is angry, bitter, sarcastic, and upset. While she is torn over her mother's death - the lack of her mother's presence in their household - she is even more angry with Dan for taking such a monumental decision without consulting her. Now, it has become Dan & The Baby vs. Emma. At least in Emma's mind. Emma doesn't make many attempts to understand her stepfather, despite the fact that he tries - time and time again - to breach the gap between them. Emma walks away from conversation, shuts down those who try to get through to her, and lashes out at every chance she gets. Obviously, her behavior isn't likable. Emma isn't likable; she isn't meant to be.

Scott - from what I presume, at any rate - set out to write a realistic character, not an idealistic one. While we, the reader, would love for Emma to just listen to Dan once or allow herself to open up to him, it isn't easy for her. Perhaps I enjoyed Heartbeat as much as I did because I understood Emma. I saw some part of myself reflected back in her. It's such a common coping mechanism to shut down, to revert into your mind and re-evaluate situations with your own bias tainting the picture. So common. And this is exactly what Emma does. It doesn't make her an admirable heroine, but it makes her an understandable one. I was able to rationalize all of Emma's actions without needing to think them through and her growth throughout the novel, though messy and difficult, was worth the struggle.

Heartbeat is a novel I know can work for a lot of readers - if only we'd get past this stigma of an "unlikable" heroine. Even beyond that, though, this novel is an honest portrayal of grief, coupled with a realistic, but very swoon-worthy, romance that heals, but doesn't necessarily cure. In other words, Scott's latest was exactly my kind of novel. Give me an angry, bitter, lashes-out-at-everyone heroine over a Bella Swan any day. Oh, and for good measure, throw in an actual bad-boy, not one of those "I-look-like-a-player" or those "I-ride-a-motorbike" or "I-am-too-sarcastic" kind of bad-boys we keep having in YA. A bad-boy who steals cars, does drugs, and sets himself on a road to redemption and love. Yes, please.
Profile Image for Robert.
Author 10 books419 followers
March 2, 2014
The start of this novel might have caused me several heart palpitations, with characters that seemed to move backwards instead of forwards, and an unlikeable cast of misfits and miscreants. Had I developed a bit more sense, I might have shoved the entire story aside and moved on with my life. But curiosity kept me flipping pages like I was flipping shirts into a suitcase ready to take the next bus out of town. Instead of ending up at the train station, I stopped about halfway there, and turned my butt back around.

The beauty of HEARTBEAT took a bit longer to arrive than I otherwise would have liked, but I did find it, and there was a leprechaun at the end of the rainbow, guarding the pot of gold with a heart monitor and electric shock treatments. He might have had a grin on his face, or it might have been a smirk, but either way it was present and accounted for, along with his scrubs, and his slightly cynical outlook on life.

Emma might have taken the fast-track to her seventeen years, with the pedal to the floor and her arm sticking out the window, while Dan, the diligent stepdad, offered up a smile and a nod in her direction. The direction of her life was headed on the downward slope, sinking faster than a person in the middle of cardiac arrest without a single doctor in sight. Caleb might have been the bad boy who had an extra dose of wicked in his lifestyle dysfunction with a hard heart and an ability to sink cars.

But this is one story that made me want to cheer, even if I had to accomplish said task from a sitting position. And my fortunes do feel just a bit brighter after having finished this novel. This was one quick read that left me blinking ever so slightly in surprise as the events unfolded right before my eyes.

I received this book for free through NetGalley.

Cross-posted at Robert's Reads
Profile Image for Nomes.
384 reviews377 followers
April 3, 2017
I love Elizabeth Scott. She is one of my all time fave YA authors. I love the feeling of snuggling up with a new Scott book (she is, thankfully, a prolific writer ;)). Heart Beat has a gut wrenching, painful premise that would make the book hard work to get through were it not for Scott's effortless prose. Scott has this way of writing sparsely, making the emotion more gut wrenching (as opposed to waxing poetic about all the feelings).

I liked Heart Beat a lot but it wasn't an easy read. Emma's emotions cloud everything and being in her head space made me feel like I needed a breath of fresh air. I hate confrontation and am a huge peacemaker and -- despite the emotional turmoil that consumes Emma -- I was so desperate for her to make peace with Dan, for the fog to lift, for some peace and resolution. At times the conflict felt repetitive, but that may have been me projecting where I wanted the story to go :) It was a really emotional read -- so much grief, and yet no room to grieve. It's a doozy of a premise and right up Scott's alley to explore.

Scott creates some of the best YA boys and Caleb ticks all the boxes (without feeling like he was created to tick boxes, haha). He's mysterious, seriously cute, and behind his bad boy image, he's got a genuinely heart-breaking story. This bad boy is not a typical YA "bad Boy" (i.e. some kind of swaggering, tough, womaniser style kid) -- Caleb has been in trouble with the law and his reputation is earnt, yet his personality is honest and intriguing and, surprisingly, sweet. Scott brings some iconic and swoony moments (rooftop meetings and more) and Emma's scenes with Caleb really lifted some of the heavier themes in the book (even while adding more emotional trauma -- of a different achey kind).

I also really liked the best friend relationship -- which was layered and unique and added more depth to themes being explored.

Scott has the perfect voice for teens. She writes with immeadiacy and her pacing is spot on. She gets right under her character's skins and writes with a lot of heart. She nails friendships and family and swoony boys -- I recommend all her work, all the time, and Heart Beat is no exception. If the premise interests you at all -- check this one out, it's perfect heart-wrenching contemporary YA fans.
589 reviews1,031 followers
January 13, 2014
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

3.5 stars
Grief holds you tight. It holds you forever.

I don’t know how to start this review. My thoughts are about explode right out of my mouth so I may as well get to the point right now.

The book opens up with our seventeen year old protagonist, Emma, who now lives with her stepfather. Her father died when she was young, and her mother only died a few months ago. However, unlike her father, Emma is still able to see her mother every day, for she is being kept alive by machines so the baby inside her can live. Kept alive until the baby no longer needs her mother's body. Emma is in a pool of grief and anger. Grieving for her mother and angry because she thinks her stepfather is selfish to keep her mother monitored just to keep the baby alive.

While I liked Emma’s character, there were certain flaws that I could not let go of. Emma’s situation was difficult, she used to be an over-achiever at school and ever since her mother’s death, her grades have slipped and her anger has been forever growing larger and larger. I could empathise for Emma easily-- but the more I think about her character I realise that she could’ve chosen not to go and visit her mother every single day. I see a lot of other readers have mentioned that as well. However if I were Emma, I’d visit my mum as well. Why? Because if my mum were dead I want to see her face, and be able to hold her hand for as long as possible; even if it makes me angry and sad. On the other hand, nothing excuses her being so prejudiced to others around her. For instance, when Emma is talking about Caleb Harrison, she says this:
I don’t think a bored, rich druggie really gets hate. Not real hate.

Girl, you don’t even know the guy and you think that he doesn’t understand hate? What do you base this off? You know nothing more than anyone else does. Besides that qualm, Emma was a generally well nuanced character. Her anger and grief was believable.

Heartbeat is predominantly a love story between two damaged characters. Caleb used to be a popular guy but when he came across his own loss of a family member, he closed up. Lonely and angry, Caleb went through being a druggie and now steals cars and sometimes the occasional school bus. Caleb and Emma’s chemistry felt a little quick to begin with but that didn’t stop me shipping these two at all. I will say that I don’t like it when romance is used as a device to fix each other’s problems, though Emma and Caleb needed help. They needed someone to understand them. They needed someone constant who could be at their side.

What I loved the most about Heartbeat was the writing. Elizabeth Scott has fantastic writing skills and it was incredibly beautiful. I will read anything by her because of her writing.

All in all, Heartbeat is a well-written gritty read that I definitely won’t hesitate to recommend to anyone.

~Thank you HarlequinTeen for sending me this copy!~

Profile Image for Ariana.
936 reviews1,303 followers
March 20, 2015
Sorry but I just can't continue with this book.

I don't think I've ever come across a more selfish, mean and 'punchable' character in a contemporary story. My dislike for the main character has no limits at this point, as I deeply disagree with everything this girls thinks/says/does regarding her step-father, her future-to-be love interest, actually the whole world around her. Yes, she was hurt but she was so wrong about how that happened and who is to blame for it.
This book would have been an emotional story... and yeah, I guess 'hate' really is an emotion, but not the one I was after.

Thank to the publisher for giving me the chance to read it.
I hope that other people will have better luck with it.
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,209 reviews26k followers
November 28, 2019
I picked this up this morning, and I noticed that it has gotten some bad reviews on goodreads, so I was expecting to dislike this book. I was wrong. This book was so emotional and raw, and it felt like these characters were real. One of the main reasons people may dislike this book is because the "main character is annoying" and yes, at times her decisions were frustrating and annoying, but I like a main character who has flaws. You have to understand that Emma has just lost her mother, and now she is forced to see her mother everyday in a hospital weeks after she's been dead. Yeah, she has a bitter attitude and she acts bitchy to her stepdad, but I can't imagine that it's easy to lose your mother and then have to see her everyday. Grief takes a toll on you like nothing else can, and it changes who you are. As she says in the book "it strips you bare and it isn't something you can ever really move on from, it's always there". This book might be considered a "romance" novel, but the romance between Emma and Caleb took a backseat to the story of Dan and her Mom and the baby, which I liked. There was the perfect amount of romance in this. She needed him, and he understood what she went through completely. People judged him without really knowing him, and Caleb's character had a lot more to him than I was expecting. I loved seeing Emma and Caleb's relationship progress because it never felt too fast or fake. I mean they didn't even meet until after the 50 page mark because the author allows you to dive into Emma's personal life with her family and the way they used to be.

I felt so bad for Dan. I know that Emma was hurting over her Mother's death, but she was blind to the fact that he was hurting too. It was frustrating that she wasn't able to see his reasoning, and understand that it is what her Mom would have wanted. I believe that once she has died, the only thing that should matter is saving the babies life. Why would they shut off her life support if there is a chance the baby could live? That's my logic on it, so I was siding with Dan throughout the majority of this story. I felt bad for him because I could see why Emma was upset, and why she assumed that he picked the baby over her Mother, but he was just trying to do the right thing and make them a family again. I admired the way he handled things because if it were me in his position, I don't know if I could handle Emma and her anger. Grief makes you bitter and angry and that's just apart of life, I understand that, but it's sad when you blame other people and allow that hate to tear your family apart. Same goes for Caleb's family. his parents were unbelievable and I was so angry with the way his parents treated Caleb. That is absolutely ridiculous to blame anyone, let alone your own kid, for a death that was out of their control. I found myself getting so upset and I felt so bad for Caleb because even though he's made some bad decisions, he only did that because he was mad at his parents in the first place.

I also loved Olivia's character. She was a perfect best friend to Emma and she was never selfish about anything. She was there for Emma 100%, even when Emma would rather turn to Caleb. I get where Olivia is coming from and how it sucks when your best friend would rather talk to their boyfriend about their problems than with you, so i was easily able to relate to her character as well. I also love how she is really against technology because that made her character different and memorable.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I'm sad it wasn't longer. I would have been happy to have another 50-100 pages, but I guess I'll have to settle for 244. I really don't understand the excessive amount of negative reviews. This was a beautiful story about overcoming death and grief with a little bit of romance as well.
Profile Image for Reynje.
272 reviews964 followers
April 11, 2014
Heartbeat is a novel about a teenage girl who is grieving. Hers is a complicated grief (and really, is there even such a thing as “uncomplicated” grief?). Her mother is brain-dead and pregnant, being kept on life support in intensive care until such time as the baby can be delivered. So she is present, and yet not present: a state for which Emma blames her step-father, believing him to be acting against what her mother would have wanted in order to preserve the life of his son.

Emma’s grief is a consuming, powerful thing. She is angry. Hurt. Afraid. Scott’s portrayal of Emma’s grief is sharp and unflinching and honest. There is nothing neat and palatable about Emma’s emotional state. It is confronting and messy.

And some readers are incredibly uncomfortable with this.

Emma’s grief doesn’t always manifest in ways that are sympathetic. Yes, sometimes she is hostile. Sometimes she is selfish. But rather than a teenage girl struggling with intense pain, some only see an unlikeable “bitch”. Emma isn’t behaving in a way that they find palatable, therefore she is punishable.

At first, I was angry; furious on Emma’s behalf that her right to her emotions would be challenged, that she wasn’t grieving “acceptably” (which is a notion that, frankly, makes me rageful). Then I just felt sad. Scott’s exploration of grief is nuanced and authentic, yet the judgement levelled at Emma for her experience suggests that some would rather not see girls like this: hurting and angry. And I can’t help but think of those readers who might see something of themselves in Emma and her story, identify with the complexity of processing grief - who also see the clamours of “stupid”, “selfish” and “dumb” that portrayal is met with.

What’s notable about Elizabeth’s Scott’s body of work is her willingness to engage with difficult subjects, often ones met with blanket disapproval. But these things happen, Scott’s novels insist. They happen every day, to people just like us. Heartbeat – as well as Scott’s other work – addresses the fact that sometimes people do terrible, irreversible things with far reaching consequences. How does blame and guilt shape that person’s life? What does healing and forgiveness look like for a person in such a situation? Is it possible? Scott explores this in the relationship between Emma and Caleb, which is born of empathy and understanding between two people isolated by their pain. Yet their romance is not presented as some kind of fix for the characters’ respective situations, nor does it minimise the repercussions of their actions.

Heartbeat is an honest book, and as such it’s not going to be met with universal acceptance. And it should be enough for me to know that it will make its way into the hands of some readers who will identify with Emma and her emotional arc. Yet part of me still bristles when I see her criticised for not conforming to a very narrow ideal of acceptable emotional expression. I’m angry for her, and for all the teenagers who feel like her, at the idea that these feelings are somehow less valid, or should be edited for others’ comfort.

If Emma’s character is divisive then I’m stating right now that I’m firmly on her side. I want to see more of this: more honesty, more difficulty, more discomfort. Sometimes teenage girls are angry, or sad, or complicated. And that’s okay.
Profile Image for Jasprit.
527 reviews738 followers
March 13, 2014
Heartbeat was my second book by Elizabeth Scott, and just from these two books it’s easy to see that Scott knows how to deal with Heart breaking family issues in a meaningful way. The story that Scott gives us in Heartbeat was definitely different from the reads I have picked up lately. Emma’s mum was brain dead, one minute she was fine making toast and the next she had collapsed. On top of having to cope with the loss, Emma’s stepdad decides to take it upon himself to make a big decision without consulting Emma. Emma’s mum was expecting and Emma’s stepdad decides he wants to keep her machine keeping her alive on until they can safely get the baby out.

Emma was a strong willed individual, but also one that had a lot of feelings she was holding back; she hated her stepdad for not consulting her and thinking he knew best, she hated how she was always focused on her school work when her mum was around and she couldn’t spare a moment to relax and watch a film with her. How she knew her mum was worried about her pregnancy, but most of all how she didn’t have anyone who could understand what she was feeling. Emma did have her best friend in Olivia, but she didn’t want to burden her with her own problems; but rather would have listened to all the stuff that was happening in her life.

I did really feel for Emma, it was hard having to visit her mum every day, despite her not being there anymore and not having the chance to say goodbye. But at times I did think Emma was a bit too hard on her stepdad. Okay he decided to make a major life decision without consulting Emma first, but Emma’s mum was gone and there was still a life inside waiting to come out which could possibly bring happiness and life to two people who really needed it. And he could be the only last reminder of their mum that they had.

Scott explored the issue of grief extremely well in this story. We got to see just how grief could affect people differently; Emma dealt with her loss, by shutting down one of the most important relationships in her life. But she was able to find someone who had dealt with a lot of grief and who was still actually suffering from it who could understand her and be her pillar of support through this horrible time. And there was Dan Emma’s stepdad, both assumed they knew what Emma’s mum would have wanted, but he was trying to make the best out of the situation that they were left with. Things in Emma’s family were really tough. But in comparison to another family who was completely broken, I’m glad that Emma and Dan found a way to struggle through.

Overall Heartbeat was another flawless and beautifully written story by Scott; she really did a great job in getting beneath the surface with our characters, and brings their feelings to the forefront of the story. Despite Scott writing about such a tough subject, I like how she leaves her stories with the idea that there can always be light at the end of a tunnel.

This review can be found on: The Readers Den
Profile Image for Sarah.
820 reviews150 followers
January 17, 2015
I really, really loved this. It's super emotional, but not at all manipulative. I also loved the romance more than I have in a YA novel in some time--it just worked for me. I'll post a longer review closer to the release date.


I am excited for this book. I've really liked Elizabeth Scott's books, but it always feels like they're not marketed well (hello, Miracle, which was one of my favorites last year that no one even knew about). Hopefully, her new publisher, Harlequin Teen, will do a better job of getting her books into the hands of the right readers.
497 reviews2,420 followers
August 3, 2016

I'm honestly unsure of how to rate this one. It really made me cry and root for most of the characters, but at 304 pages I felt that the novel went by too quickly and not a lot of development happened.

We are first introduced to Emma, our very, very angry heroine. She wouldn't talk to her stepfather properly since she believed that her mother died only because she wanted to make him happy. I bet a lot of people will be irritated with her character, considering the fact that she was highly inconsiderate and kind of a bitch, honestly. But I do believe that she had a reason for being the way she was. She was just broken, and I understood where all her frustration came from.

And then Emma starts to get to know Caleb, who has gone through so much and is still constantly being hurt by everyone around him. His character had so much depth and I really did like him, but I don't think he's a very memorable hero. Again, this might only be since the novel was pretty quick. But he was there for Emma, he understood her and didn't try to tell her everything's alright because honestly nothing was. I wouldn't normally associate myself with guys who stole cars and went through rehab, but Caleb was such a sweet, misunderstood boy.

My favorite part of the novel was basically Emma's coming to terms with her family, how she started realizing that she had a family who loves her and that she should love. She also had a very supportive friend who tried her best to understand what Emma's going through and how she could make things easier for Emma.

I loved everything that had to do with Emma's grieving and her family. Elizabeth Scott did a great job with making me mourn with Emma and feel what Emma felt. With such a beautiful writing style, Scott was able to make me cry rivers. The romance was not up to par with everything else in the novel, sadly. And in the end (mini spoiler, I'd say), I didn't like how Emma let go of her studies and just went with the flow instead of working harder like I would've wanted. Like what the hell, girl?

All in all, this was a beautifully crafted novel, but I did think it wasn't as wonderful as it could've been. It had more potential which I hope Scott will improve on in her future novels.
Profile Image for Rose.
1,857 reviews1,048 followers
January 13, 2014
Initial reaction: I really appreciated this latest book from Elizabeth Scott. It takes on a tough matter when Emma's stepfather Dan keeps his deceased wife alive for their baby to be born, but Emma's angry over the decision for a multitude of reasons. It's a difficult read in many places, but I thought the subject matter was handled well, as were the characters.

Full review:

Elizabeth Scott's "Heartbeat" is ultimately a story of grief in a wide variety of forms. This is probably a narrative that won't strike people in the same way because of the nature of the issue that's presented, but Scott has a way of skillfully portraying stories of grief that I really admire, and I respect this just as much as "Living Dead Girl" or any of the stories I've read from her thus far. What makes this one difficult to swallow isn't just the subject matter, but rather the protagonist's attempt to grapple with the turns of events and ultimately come to terms with the reality of it all.

Emma used to be a lot of things before her mother died. High acheiving student, excited about the baby brother that was coming into their lives. But when her mother unexpectedly passes, Emma's stepfather Dan makes the decision to keep her mother on machines in order to save the life of the baby inside her. Emma does not take this news well. She not only can't come to grips that he made such a decision, but feels that his decision was selfish - that he doesn't miss her mother and that Emma's mother didn't want the baby in the first place. It causes a very striking rift between their relationship, and Emma does not let him live it down.

I'll admit that there were times that I was frustrated with Emma in the go betweens of these arguments, but I also recognized that she was in just as much a space of pain for what her actions lent. In addition to losing her mother, her stepfather seems barely in the picture apart from his own pain and overfocus on the baby, Emma's fallen out of sorts with her schoolwork and is barely making anything work, her old boyfriend is a space of bitterness in her life for what she realizes he wasn't, among other matters.

She does find a common ground with Caleb, a boy from her school working in the hospital that has his own significant weights with grief. Feeling responsible for his sister's death and the rift it's created within his family, he's done his share of lashing out and getting into trouble which his mother and father haven't forgiven him for, but Emma and Caleb's growing bond and spaces of understanding did resonate with me in the spectrum of the work. I liked watching their respective rapport develop over time.

I think Emma took a long road to coming to terms with her family situation, through the memories she walks through, through the sharp dialogues she exchanges with Dan, and ultimately the support she has from both Caleb and her best friend. It's not so much a story in which the heroine is healed by anyone, but rather has to come to her respective terms herself over time. The ending is a little more abrupt than I was expecting, but it does have a nice tie of events and progression for moving forward. Ultimately, despite spaces where I did find Emma unlikable, I sympathized and grew to care for her respective story here. Overall, a well noted effort for Scott and I would certainly recommend "Heartbeat" for the way it makes you think about the character's grief and ultimately her way of moving forward - of the general measure of being able to move forward in the space of loss, anger, and grief.

Overall score: 4/5 stars

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Harlequin TEEN.
Profile Image for Ashley.
667 reviews716 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
December 9, 2013
Nose Graze — Book reviews & blogging tips

Stopped reading at about 35%

I'm completely heartbroken over here. I'm DEVASTATED that I didn't love Heartbeat . I think I'm mostly devastated because it has all the makings of a brilliant book, but the main character killed any enjoyment I could have had for it.

In a word, Emma is MEAN. She's a selfish, hostile bitch. I get that she lost her mother and that's horrible and devastating. She has every right to be upset—or even angry. But I could not handle her being mean and hateful towards her stepfather—a man who was nothing but nice, sweet, and supportive. Even when she she yells at him and basically says, "It's your fault my mother is dead!" he still hangs in there and is nice to her. He comforts her and makes her breakfast and says she's his family no matter what.. and yet she's just a raging bitch to him.

I couldn't get over how selfish and hateful Emma was. I wanted to be able to sympathize with Emma and cry with her.. but instead, her mean attitude just made me hate her. And on the one hand, I felt bad about hating a girl who just lost her incredible mother, but then she'd run off and treat Dan ( her stepfather) like complete and total shit, and I no longer felt guilty. This girl was horrible! I loved Dan; he was so nice and an EXCELLENT father figure... he didn't deserve the treatment she gave him.

I don't feel like Dan did anything wrong. She hated him for keeping his mother "alive" after she went brain dead, for the sake of saving her unborn child. Maybe I'm just ignorant or something, but I don't see anything terribly wrong with that. Emma constantly yells at him that "It's not what mother would have wanted!", but on the contrary, I think that's exactly what most mothers would want. If the mother has to die, surely most mothers would want their family to do everything they can to save their unborn child? Isn't that some kind of obvious maternal instinct ("protect the child no matter what")?

I get that it's hard to see your mother laying there in a hospital bed day after day, when she's basically already dead and there's no hope for her.. but no one's making her visit her mom every day. It's like she's only torturing herself by choosing to do that.

Emma just made out Dan to be some kind of evil, killing bastard for doing this.. and I really don't see the problem. But mostly I just didn't want to finish Heartbeat because of how much I despised Emma. She was really and truly horrible to Dan. I felt so awful for him because he was such a nice guy, and Emma was just a bitch. I just couldn't take it...

And it sucks, because I think the overall plot of this book is really interesting, and I'd have loved the chance to get more into it.. but Emma really stood in my way and ruined it for me!
Profile Image for Zemira Warner.
1,569 reviews1,037 followers
September 8, 2013
I've said this and I'll say it again. Elizabeth Scott is an excellent author. Family issues are always more important than getting a new boyfriend in her stories and I admire that. When I read she teamed up with Harlequin Teen I was so happy because it seems that S&S didn't promote her books at all. I remember when Miracle came out and I didn't even know it was released for months. Not until I was looking for some recommendations and stumbled upon it.

Emma's mother died but machines are still keeping her alive because she is pregnant. Emma is angry at her stepfather for picking the baby instead of her mom. They had a great relationship and it all changed the day her mother died. Not they hardly talk and when they do, they fight. Emma's best friend is her only solace. She keeps her occupied, away from all the negative thoughts she has about her mother. Emma is still thinking about Anthony, her ex which wasn't even an ex but things change fast when she sees the local druggy, Caleb in hospital.

At times I was really angry at Emma because of the way she acted towards her stepdad when he was clearly still in mourning. She was either snapping or ignoring him. Sure, he pooled away from her and was more concerned about this unborn son but still... He was so nice and he did love Emma like she was his daughter. In spite of her lashing out I couldn't shake the thought what I would do in a similar situation. Would I try to calm down or blame everyone else for the things they weren't even responsible for? Who knows.

Emma and Caleb's relationship blossomed with time and they actually had a lot in common. They both lost someone important. Caleb turned out to be a pretty decent guy. It's not every day we get to read about a guy blushing in front of girl. Most are confidant and popular which got old pretty fast.

Elizabeth developed great minor characters like Emma's talkative best friend who hates gadgets, even the smart ex, Anthony.

If you enjoy reading heartbreaking stories with 'the light in the end of the tunnel' then you can't miss Heartbeat. It will make you cry at least 3 times and it will make you smile. Another Elizabeth Scott hit!
Profile Image for Tee loves Kyle Jacobson.
2,471 reviews169 followers
January 15, 2014
First I have to say that I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book. Heartbeat is a heart wrenching story about loss and love and finding a place where you belong. Elizabeth Scott has a way with writing that draws you in and no matter what you try and do you can't put her books down. I had a paper due and I stayed up till 3am reading Heartbeat until I was done because I just needed to know what happened to the main characters. This is a story that tugs at your heart and has so many issues it addresses that happens in real life.It is a story about two people who are suffering from a great loss and from their grief and loss they form a bond that will not be broken. They learn to find happiness through their tragedies.

Emma has lost everything she holds dear to her. Her mother dropped dead one day in the kitchen of their home. Instead of being able to grieve her mother's death her step father decides to keep her mother alive so the baby she is carrying can be delivered. What kind of selfish person does that? Emma is so angry with her step father that she bottles it all up and one day she has an epic freak out in the hospital because she goes everyday to see her mother even though she is dead and being kept alive by machines. It is their that she starts to talk to the schools resident bad boy Caleb.

Caleb is hurting and lashing out at everyone and everything until he sees Emma grieving. It is in this minute that Caleb realizes Emma knows what he is going through. At first he doesn't talk to her but stares at her and let's her know that he sees her. Then he decides to talk to her and what they have in common is canning and they decide to share their pain and their anger. Together they help heal each other's wounds and anger. Emma and Caleb share a bound that is unstoppable and unbeatable. Even when his parents try and scare Emma away she stands up to them and says no she will not leave him alone.

This book is a must read! It is one of my 2013 Best Book Reads and Caleb is one of my favorite Book Boyfriend :)
511 reviews209 followers
September 1, 2016
Unexpected love, sorrow, anger, wants all in heartbeats. Sweet and touching and emotive and intense. All and everything, the worst of times, the worst of circumstances, the beginning of lives as one fades away week by week, visit by visit.

The story ignites in me so many emotions. Scott makes you feel so torn and conflicted, and for. every. damn. character. Because it's not just Emma's story, it's her step-dad's, there's her mother long gone but s shadow still here, and the boy who lives in a garage. Different, multiple stories, Emma's words. And what words they were! The story has not happened, It's not a tale to be told, it's happening and should be felt. It's not a story, it's a girl and lives. Words aren't words but figures of emotion and feelings.

But seriously, non-obnoxiously, by the one pearl on my person, it was beautiful and real and like a teenager. Not thinking in perfect structure, full sentences, thoughts dropped in middle because they were too hard; there's so much inference to be got; hidden words, words not spoken, dare not say, need not say and that's what makes it so real.

Dan wants his unborn child. Emma wants the dead body of her mother gone. Caleb killed his sister.

Nobody saves another, everyone is drowning and love in the form of car crasher won't bring her back. The rest is on the shore, calling out to her and she swims herself back to land. Caleb and Emma are there for each other, and they have the sweetness, the real deal of 'get each other,' not navel gazing, because he has been and still is where she stands. She doesn't save Caleb, she can't. There will always be demons for him. For her, too. It's the unexpected part, the slow, gentle likeness seeping through that makes it infinitely lovable.

Dan and Emma. There's so many feelings, layer upon layer, hurt and anger, betrayal and, lurking somewhere, longing.

Emma is not the best. Flaws and mistakes and lashing at the others, is how she lives and grows and learns. But I get Emma, and her feelings aren't irrational. her actions and perception are laid over by resentment and rue; there's the soul crushing pain that overlooks the good. There's a part that can see and want, that overlooks all that's happened and rewinds with her best friend, listening about kisses and fights and dates where no mother is dead yet being kept on, thinking about normalcy and streaks in hair.

In conclusion, Heartbeat was a fantastic short read where emotions are written in such turmoil like you wouldn't believe. It was not the greatest story, not the most likable character, not the sweetest love, but it was fantastic.

Te amo Harlequin!
Profile Image for Emily Anne.
226 reviews252 followers
February 8, 2014
Wow. This book made me feel all the feels!!! Heartbeat contained beautiful writing, realistic and sympathetic characters, and a little sprinkling of tears and laughter. I listed Heartbeat on my Favorites Shelf on Goodreads. I only have 22 books on that list, and all the books more than deserve to be there. So, congratulations to Heartbeat!

I loved how Elizabeth Scott portrayed the main character, Emma. I know for a fact that some readers did not like Emma. However, to me, she behaved realistically and I connected to her at once.

At the beginning of Heartbeat, Emma had just lost her mother. She was confused, grieving, and a teenager. Emma blamed the death on her stepdad and the coming baby. To me, I think this illustrated a very important point. When something bad occurs, a lot of people want to find a reason for the tragedy, they need someone or something to blame. However, you have to learn that sometimes no one is to blame, and that you can’t change the past.

Emma was very infuriated when she learned that her technically dead mother’s body is being kept “alive” to give birth to her baby. I can’t imagine going to the hospital and seeing a relative or friend be right there with a seemingly healthy body, but really be gone, completely brain dead. Emma often went to talk to her mom, which was quite emotional for me. Also, this book influenced me to research and think about the ethics of keeping a dead person “alive” in a hospital.

The romance was really awesome too. Caleb had his own tragic story, like Emma. Only, in his story, he was the one being blamed. Also, he didn’t feel the cut-out, cliche “bad boy” we see relentlessly in YA nowadays. Caleb had a lot of substance, and he and Emma complimented each other well. They seemed to understand each other in a way that is essential to keep a relationship intact.

Overall, I loved this book. It tells a story that is not a standard one. Yet a lot of people will relate to Emma’s feelings. We’ve all felt unbearably mad, sad, or confused at one point in our life. Also, the romance was awesome. Although it isn’t the main plot of the story as the cover suggests. Along with the sad parts, Heartbeat also has fun and hopeful parts. The book was the perfect contemporary read!

4.5/5 Stars

*I received this novel for free in exchange for a honest review*
Profile Image for Anisa.
83 reviews6 followers
January 15, 2017
I'm so sorry for this rating. I have tried so hard for not giving just one star, it's the worst thing you do to author who had published their writing. I feel so bad for this but I can't lie to myself. I don't like this book, even I tried.

This book told about a girl who has a died mother but her stepfather kept her body to save their children. Yeah, her mother was pregnant. The girl, named Emma, and her stepfather were always fought about what the mother truly wanted. The plot was so slow and sometimes I felt that it wasn't even moved.

I don't like the characters, all of them. They are such a negative people. I don't like the way Emma always cut her stepfather's words and her negative thinking. I don't like Dan too, Emma's stepfather. He was a father but he couldn't to be distinct. And Emma's best friend, Olivia, all she can do just listen, listen, and listen. Just listen all of Emma's gripe without given a solve problem or counseled. And yeah, Caleb who as same as Emma. Negative, the burried ones.

I understand that they have problems. But everyone have their own problem, right? It's not about waiting storm passed or the rainbow came, but how you can danced in the rain. It's all about behaved.

I know that Emma and Caleb will be attracted each other. It's so obvious from the synopsis. I mean that this book has a short plot in 240 pages, like uhhh ;_;
Profile Image for Debbie.
295 reviews128 followers
January 3, 2015

2.5 Messed Up Clouds

The title of this novel fits with the story. The heartbeat of Emma’s unborn brother’s heart. But the thing that made my heart stop was Emma and her mean self. I understand that she’s grieving and that this novel is very sad but the amount of anger and just plain apathy I felt towards this book makes it a bad one and if I could go back, I wouldn’t read it.

From beginning to end, Emma is a complete bitch to her stepfather. Time and time again, he is nothing but nice to her but she treats him as if he is a disgusting monster because of his choice. Although I don’t agree with his choice, I also don’t agree with Emma and her constantly telling him, “you don’t love me or mom. You only used her,” etc. I also had a problem with the romance since it felt forced to me and I had a hard time believing it. This could have been because of the very simple and detached writing style or because of Emma herself. I’m not quite sure.

However, the only thing that I really enjoyed about heartbeat is Olivia and her unique personality. She hates technology (for the most part) and lives without it, something that many people couldn’t never do. Her characterization is refreshing and interesting and I enjoyed the story more whenever she’s around.

Heartbeat could have been great. Albeit it’s a very typical story, Elizabeth Scott adds a nice twist to it with the unborn born child and I found that part very interesting. Unfortunately, because of how dislikeable the main character is, I couldn’t really enjoy this. I only recommend this to people who don’t mind mean main characters, a forced romance, and a typical story.
Profile Image for Andria.
351 reviews
July 7, 2013
Elizabeth Scott's books are always deceptively slim. Hers is spare, economic prose that packs complex characters, relationships and issues into relatively small volumes that emotionally affect readers without overwhelming them.

"If everything matters, then nothing can because it's all the same. And if it's all the same, then nothing is ever special." The fact that one of the characters in Heartbeat utters these lines--which so clearly echo what a REAL LIFE TEEN said to me just yesterday that it's almost scary--should tell you how well the author understands the way teenagers think. (As well as any grown up can ever hope to, I suppose)

Heartbeat is both a tragedy and a romance. Emma's mother is brain dead but being kept alive long enough until the baby growing inside her can live on his own. Emma is gutted with anger and grief but finds solace in the arms of Caleb, a beautiful bad boy who understands pain and loss. In just over 200 pages, complex issues such as grief, suffering, friendship, forgiveness, hope, love, and what, indeed, really matters are given thoughtful treatment.
Profile Image for Kristi Cook.
Author 5 books960 followers
April 21, 2013
Was lucky enough to read an ARC of HEARTBEAT. Elizabeth Scott has long been one of my favorite authors, and this book did not disappoint! Absolutely loved it. Sniff, sniff....
Profile Image for Noor Amor.
8 reviews
November 28, 2014
November 28th, 2014

“Heartbeat”, is a novel written by Elizabeth Scott about grief. This story takes place mainly in a hospital, and in a high school. A young girl named Emma, loses her pregnant mother in an abrupt death. The day before her mother died, she had suggested to Emma to go watch a movie but Emma went and did her homework alternately. The next day, her mother was reaching out to take a toast and fell, on the stop, she was gone. Emma’s stepfather, Dan, conjectures, without consulting Emma that Lisa, Emma’s mother and his wife, was going to be kept alive using machines for the sake of the baby growing inside her stomach. Since Emma’s mother was brain dead, they managed to keep her heart alive as well as her other organs. Before her mother’s death, Emma was a high achieving student which totally changed when her mother was gone. She went to visit her every day after school and summons to her about her day, and lies about the good grades she was getting. Dan was there too, but he went there to see the baby inside her, not her, at least that was what Emma thought. Emma used to love Dan, she used to consider him as a father, but he shut her out when her mother died. Her anger towards him destroys her day by day because she thought the only individual he cared about was the baby boy inside her mother. She thought he was using her and keeping her alive just so he could get what he wanted. Although she pushed him way and said cruel and malicious things to him, he didn’t give up on her and continued making efforts. Olivia, her best friend, has gone through everything with her, and was always there for her. She was the only one Emma would open up to and talk to, about everything, the only who understood her, until she meets Caleb Harrison. He seems to understand her, and see something in her that no one, not even Olivia seems to see. He gets her, like no one else ever did, and she does the same. Caleb and Emma both know what it’s like to live with a dead person in their life. Caleb lost his sister, Minnie, and blames himself for it, and so do his parents. Emma shows Caleb it isn’t his fault and understands him, believes in him and trusts him. They change each other’s’ lives involuntarily. They realize life isn’t over, there is still hope, and as long as they have each other, they can go through anything. Caleb later makes Emma realise that she has to go talk to Dan about everything, and when she does, she finds the father she had lost when her mother died. She got Dan she knew back. The novel ends with Dan and Emma both letting go of Lisa, since it was time for the doctors to take the baby out. They named the baby Liam, who though he would never get to know his mother, allowed his sister and father to move forward and let her go. The theme of this incredible novel is that “There is hope for life after death, and there is always hope for love”, also , another theme could be “Once you find true love, you can go through anything”, just like Emma.

This magnificent novel teaches the readers several lesson especially about love and grief. There is one main element of fiction demonstrated throughout the course of the novel is theme. “There is hope for life after death and there is always hope for love” is its theme. When Emma’s mother died, Emma was lost and though he had Olivia, her best friend, she still felt an emptiness inside her until she met Caleb, who managed to fill that emptiness. “And I stand there on my roof, in the dark, being held by Caleb Harrison. That’s all he does. Olivia is around, always, and she’s here for me, but she doesn’t get it. Not like Caleb does. In the dark, with his arms around me, I don’t feel so empty” (Scott, 106). In addition, Caleb makes her feel special, like no one else ever managed to do except her mother who is gone. Emma had lost hope of ever feeling alive and to feel at peace for ages, and Caleb, was the only who could make her feel that way. “But I am thinking about Caleb. About how he is nothing like everyone says he is. About how I stood on the roof it him tonight and felt more at peace, more alive than I have in ages” (Scott, 111). Lastly, Emma was inlove with a someone before Caleb, and before her mother died, Emma was inlove with a boy named Anthony who broke her heart. After this heartbreak, Emma stopped believing in the idea of love, until Caleb enters her life. “And then, we just look at each other and I don’t care that he’s screwed up and gorgeous. I care that someone really does get what’s going on. Sees it.” (Scott, 76). As one can see, the theme was developed throughout the novel, and made it a magical novel to the readers.

“Heartbeat” is a book that would be adored by young teenage girls. This novel wouldn’t be recommended to boys since it is a love story and its themes are very emotional. This novel would be suitable to people who like to learn new lessons about life, since this novel is life changing. It will teach you how lucky you are, for things you don’t realise when the days pass but when you read this novel, you do realise it all. Anybody going through a heartbreak or even someone who isn’t should read this novel. This novel isn’t very adventurous and doesn’t have much action, but makes you experience several different emotions. Scott writes this novel to make you live the whole plot inside your head, as if you were with the characters while the action is going on. This novel is dramatic, as well as romantic and would be recommended to young girls wanting to learn more about romance and love. This novel teaches the readers that once you find love, you can go through anything, which is something that many people might say but not believe. This novel will make you believe it. It will teach about grief and letting go as well as hope. Sometimes you lose hope, but “Heartbeat” shows you that as long as there is life, there is hope. As one can see, these are the reasons why “Heartbeat” would be recommended to young teenage girls.
Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews837 followers
July 31, 2014
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Harlequin TEEN
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Rating: 5 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads):

Life. Death. And...Love?

Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.

But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.

Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.

Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?

What I Liked:

Just a note (not that it really matters): I read this book back in early August, but I wanted to hold off on writing and publishing my review until closer to the release date. Granted, it's still not *that* close to the release date, but it's good enough. Better than August.

So! This book! What a book! You all do not understand how much this book touched me. I read it before it had a cover (the cover wasn't revealed until October tenth, anyway), so I wasn't dissuaded by the romance-based cover. Trust me, this book's romance plays a huge role in this book, but it's not what I would feature on the cover. I like the cover, but maybe not for this book.

This book deals with difficult issues. A girl is struggling to maintain a relationship with her stepfather - a relationship that she feels like she doesn't want. Emma wants to hate Dan for keeping her mother's body alive, in order to have a shot at keeping their son (Dan and Emma's mother's son).

You see, Emma's mother is over forty years old. Once women pass about thirty-five, pregnancies become high-risk. The baby could be born with conditions and disease, and the mother will most likely have a difficult pregnancy and difficult labor. So, Emma's mother technically dies, at fifteen weeks at pregnancy, but Dan makes the decision to maintain her bodily functions, so that the fetus can grow. Twenty-five weeks is the magic number.

I totally understand why Emma hated Dan's decision so much. He never asked Emma what she wanted. It seemed like everything he was doing, he was doing for the baby, and not thinking about Emma's mother, or Emma.

I can relate to this book as a whole, because my mother's sister (my aunt) went through basically the same thing last year. She was over forty, already had a daughter my age, but she got pregnant. About twenty-ish weeks into the pregnancy, things started to go downhill. She started bleeding, she was bedridden, the baby was under high stress... my aunt could have died, and the baby could have died. Around Christmas time, the baby was taken, and he died.

My aunt wanted to keep the baby inside of her for as long as possible. She would have done anything for that little boy - just like Emma's mother. The (big) difference is, Emma's mother died from being pregnant - my aunt survived (but her little boy didn't).

So, I feel like the issue with Emma's feelings about her mother's death, her future stepbrother, and her stepfather, is the forefront of the story. I'm saying that I don't like the cover, but I feel like the romance is secondary.

And I don't know how Ms. Scott did it, but Emma's voice is phenomenal. I mean, as a teen, I could totally relate to Emma. I could feel all of her feelings, think all of her thoughts, understand what she was going through... everything just seemed extremely realistic. Emma's anger with her stepfather is so well-written - I would have reacted similarly, I feel!

The romance is beautiful, though. I love Emma and Caleb together. Both of them are broken, splintered apart by awful, tragic events in their lives. Both of them need each other, want each other, and thankfully, they find each other. I seriously think that the romance in this book is PERFECT. Subtle, simple yet complex, tortured, beautiful.

I really, really enjoyed this book. It broke my heart in many ways, because of what happened so recently with my aunt, but I loved this book regardless. This book will always be special to me, for that reason. The ending is imperfectly perfect. You'll have to read the book to know whether or not the baby survived, Emma and Caleb survived, Emma and Dan survived, and so on. But I love the ending. I love this book.

What I Did Not Like:

I have nothing to say in this section! I know that no book is perfect, but I really cannot think of anything for this section at the moment!

Would I Recommend It:

YES! I know that the cover will lead you to think that this book is a contemporary romance story - which it does feature - but that's not solely what this book is about! Give it a try, whether you like contemporary novels or not. It might change things for you! This is one of those books that if you can relate, then it sticks with you forever. I know it will, for me!


5 stars. I haven't read anything else by Ms. Scott, but I have to say, I am very impressed! This story has so much meaning to me, so I am honored to have had a chance to read it.
Profile Image for Marie  Grey.
29 reviews17 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
January 12, 2014

If you're a big fan of Heartbeat, or any of Elizabeth Scott's books, stop reading now. Just a review full of angry gifs and cursing because FEELINGS. By the way, this is my opinion and I'm entirely entitled to it.

Sorry. I can't go on anymore. I don't want to waste my precious time reading this book. There are a lot of better and amazing books out there than Heartbeat that I have not yet to read. Sadly, Heartbeat isn't as close as amazing. Not even close.

I'm so angry. I'm still so fucking angry. I started reading this book last night, it was relatively short. Not bragging but I can read this short book in just 2 or 3 hours but after 84 pages of rolling my eyes, banging my head on the table, banging my head on the wall, pulling my hair out, gritting my teeth. . . I can't stand it anymore. I gave up and I'm not guilty about it. In fact, I'm so happy that I did not continue reading this book. But still thinking about this book makes me want to punch someone on the face.

I'm kind of surprised that a lot of readers loved this book. I have nothing against them. I absolutely respect their opinions, I'm fine with that. But still. . . I'm shocked.

Anyway, let me explain why I didn't like this book.

You know what? I have never encountered a selfish, dumb, stupid, and selfish protagonist in my entire life. Until, I met Emma. She's so. . . mean, disrespectful, annoying. *throws every negative adjectives* I get it, I get that she's grieving, she's hurt, she misses her mother so much, she's angry. I get it, I do. I really do. But to the point that she'd rather kill her baby brother than see her dead mother on a life support for only a few weeks.


She kept on saying that her mother doesn't even want the baby, listen you fucking bitch, if your mom really doesn't want the baby she could have get an abortion but she didn't because he loved Dan so much and your baby brother. And that's the point Emma missed. And speaking of Dan, I feel sorry for him because of all the things Emma did to him. Emma thought Dan doesn't love her and her mom, I'm like. . .

Is she fucking blind? Doesn’t she have feelings? Doesn't she have eyes? ears? heart? EMOTIONS??!!!



Emma is absolutely fucking blind. Can't she see that Dan loved her and her mother so much, he kept up with Emma, stayed with her, understand her even though Emma kept on shutting him off and disrespecting him. I mean, Dan could just leave her if he want to and just find someone to knocked up again but he didn't because he loves Emma and her mom so much. I think Elizabeth tried to make Emma's personality really angst-y, rebellious, heartbroken teenager that we're supposed to pity, feel sorry or sympathize with but what came out is a selfish, pathetic, dumb bitch.

I'm so disgusted at Emma. So disgusted. I never felt this way. All I wanted to right now is kill her and dump her body in the ocean and just let the sharks eat her body. . Oh the pleasure. My hatred for her knows no bounds.

Also, I don't care about the love interest because I smelled something that he too is like Emma. No. Give me a fucking break.

Is this book supposed to make me cry because it is sooooo emotional because dead mother, life's falling apart, 'selfish' step dad because he wanted to keep his baby. . . Duh. Am I supposed to feel bad for Emma? Because life's falling apart, dead mother, 'selfish' dad because he wanted to keep his baby. . .


Heartbeat is not an emotional, gut wrenching, heart-breaking novel. This book is just pure hatred, hatred, hatred, and hatred. I think that emotion has been passed on me, I mean, look at where am I now!!!!

And I don't even care if Emma changed at the end (because I've read some reviews that she did) No, thank you, no flying fucks to give anymore. Even thinking about that is impossible. There's too much anger on Emma's heart that changing quickly is sooo unrealistic. And clearly. . .

You know what, I read a couple of bad books before but this book. . . Heartbeat is beyond bad. My first book of Elizabeth Scott and it was a disaster.

No stars for Heartbeat because this book doesn't deserve any. . . for me

*Arc received via Edelweiss*

The Moody Reader
Profile Image for Naoms.
706 reviews161 followers
January 21, 2014
Originally Posted on Confessions of an Opinionated Book Geek

I do this really dangerous thing. I request review copies of books with interesting summaries from authors I have never heard of and then I forget about it. I get an email that says “you were approved for this book.” I often have no memory of what the book is or what it’s about, but I know that something about it caught my attention…so I read it. Without reading the synopsis. I go in completely blind. Sometimes, it’s a huge mistake. After 50 or so pages, I rush to Goodreads to read the synopsis and figure out whether or not it was a mistake. But sometimes, like with CHARM & STRANGE, INSOMNIA an THESE BROKEN STARS, it’s not a mistake, but a gift.

HEART BEAT was a gift. A gift from myself two months ago when I requested an ARC of it. I opened this book without any idea what to expect. And what I got was a truly heartbreaking and yet beautiful story about loss, forgiveness, hard decisions and first loves.

Emma’s life was destroyed when her pregnant mother reached for toast and fell into a coma. More than a coma, Emma’s mom is brain dead. Gone and absent from a body that no longer has a soul, but still has a functioning heartbeat. Why is Emma’s mom kept alive by tubes, machines and nurses that turn her body over to prevent bed sores? The baby growing inside her.

This is an extremely tense and controversial subject. Especially, to Emma. She hates seeing her mother’s empty body and hates that she had no say in the matter. She is unable to imagine a life with a baby brother who will never know their mother and who forced Emma to see their mom’s body empty for at least 30 more days. It’s intense, because what Emma’s stepfather, Dan, decides is probably the most obvious thing. The mother may be basically dead, but if keeping her heart beating will keep their son alive, shouldn’t he do it? I think so, but that doesn’t make the choice anymore heart wrenching for the people who have to live with the aftermath of the choice.

Emma spends a lot of this book torn between rage and soul crushing grief. Grief, because her mother is dead and rage, because seeing her in a hospital everyday makes moving on and letting go impossible.

Truth time, I cried constantly during this book. I couldn’t help myself. I just cried so much, because the writing is so beautiful and the emotions so authentic. It was almost like reading a teenage girl’s diary. I couldn’t imagine having to live with the loss and anger that this character deals with every day. She is torn up inside and cannot even look at her stepfather and has nowhere to focus her feelings. She gives up on school even though she was on track to be valedictorian. She gives up on friends, except for her loyal bff Olivia. The world just seems to freeze in place.

Until she has an awkward run in with Caleb. Her schools resident bad boy stoner. Caleb has a history of stealing vehicles and crashing them. The kind of guy that Emma would never look at twice before her mother died. But in one instant, after seeing Emma with her mother, Caleb understands. He understands living with someone who is dead, but whose presence still lingers.

Through their mutual heart ache and loss these two characters bond. They go from being alone at sea to being each others life rafts. Suddenly, they can see the shore. Can see hope. They know that they can be happy again. But, is it enough? Do they only care for each other, because of their loss or is it real? What’s great about this book is that after the end of it, I don’t need to believe they’ll be together forever. I know that what they had helped them through difficult times and that knowing each other made them better. That’s all I need to know. I am glad that the author didn’t try writing an epic forever love, because how realistic is that?

I would compare this story to something like THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. It’s completely different, the writing style is not at all similar and yet both books have that beautiful sadness. Love in the midst of sorrow. The kind of books that remind us that sometimes being a kid isn’t easy and sometimes you have to grow up and find your independence in the saddest of ways.

Emma’s journey is emotional, because she’s right as often as she’s wrong. She’s logical as often as she is illogical. It’s real, because that’s how we all are. Sometimes our mind guides us and sometimes our hearts lead us astray. In this book you get both sides of a horrible situation. You get why Emma is so damn angry at Dan and you see how Dan is as lost at sea and as broken as she is.

I can see that this book wont be for everyone. Emma is angry and does selfish and often rude things, but I believed her. I believed her actions and emotions to be real. I’m also one of those people who doesn’t believe a heroine has to be lily white and sacrificial to be likable. So, check this book out.

Prepare for tears, but know that it’s worth it. This is a great book.

Recommended for fans of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS and CHARM & STRANGE, not because they have similar themes, but because they have dark, sorrowful and intelligent storytelling
Profile Image for Michelle.
58 reviews2 followers
August 2, 2017
So after thinking about it, I'm changing my rating from the full 5 stars to 4 stars. There were some problems with this book, largely stemming from the main character. When I initially rated this 5 stars, it was because I had just finished it and thoroughly enjoyed the ending. Now that I've had time to process the book, as much as I enjoyed the ending, there were some things in the beginning and middle of the book that I had some problems with. And that's why my rating has changed from 5/5 to 4/5.
Profile Image for Danielle (Love at First Page).
726 reviews621 followers
December 12, 2014
3.5-4 stars

The message behind Elizabeth Scott's novel isn't new, but it's beautiful all the same. From one heartbeat to the next, life can change in terrible, devastating ways, and in another it can transform into something that takes your breath away. Emma finds herself caught between two such heartbeats. Between living with the heaviest grief and discovering a happiness she never expected.

I have to admit that I had trouble liking Emma's character in the beginning. It was difficult to relate to the way she expressed her grief. For most of the book, she is bitter, angry, and hateful. She's very nasty toward her stepfather, Dan, and she resents the decision he's made to keep her mother's body alive for their baby. Emma and Dan have two very different opinions about how her mother felt during the pregnancy - did she fear the pregnancy was going to kill her, or did she fear losing the baby? Emma is adamant about what she believes, and I wanted to shake her for it. The truth seemed so obvious.

However, Emma's grief is spelled out in so many haunting ways, it's impossible not to empathize with her. There's the sudden loss of her mother, of course, and the fact that she never got to say goodbye. Or does she? Emma visits her mother's body every day in the hospital, and she sometimes forgets that her mother really isn't there listening to her. That confusion is the most heartbreaking aspect of the book. She can't properly let her mother go because a smidgeon of hope, no matter how impossible, still exists that her mother will just wake up. Emma also feels abandoned by Dan, that he has chosen his son over her. He never asked her what she wanted. Their relationship is so difficult to read about because I wanted them to work through their grief together. The flashbacks Emma has about the three of them shows a family full of love and passion; Emma and Dan would be that much closer to healing if only they communicated more. I also would have preferred more resolution to their relationship at the end. Emma has an "aha" moment, but we don't get to see how this positively affects her and Dan. I hope they reach that closeness they used to have.

Before Emma lost her mom, she was the straight-A student with nothing but the future ahead of her. She had goals, plans, and aspirations. In the present, she's discovering that being perfect, that always looking toward the future, shouldn't be what matters. No matter how much planning ahead is done, no matter how bright the future looks, things can happen in an instant that are unexpected and uncontrollable. She wishes she had spent more time with her mom and enjoyed their moments together more fully. She has difficulty sharing her pain with anyone, even her best friend, but then she meets a boy who understands her on a level no one else can. Caleb lost his younger sister, and his parents blame him for the accident. His way of channeling grief was to do drugs, and then he began stealing cars in an effort to have his parents send him away. Although he sounds like the typical misunderstood bad boy of YA, Caleb absolutely stands out. For one, he has an actual past that's difficult to swallow, unlike those faux-bad boys we read about so often. Secondly, his personality, what's on the inside, is golden and good. He's quiet, he blushes, and he trembles when he's nervous; he's heartbreaking in his loneliness. His treatment of Emma is so sweet because he listens to her, understands her, but he doesn't try to fix her. He's there for her in a way that no one else can or will be. Grief brings them together, but slow-burning tenderness, trust, and a deeper connection infuses their romance. There's quite a few swoony moments, like whenever Emma moves the hair out of his face to see his eyes, or when Caleb makes her cotton candy, or all the times they almost kiss and then when they finally do. Sometimes the unexpected is exactly what's needed and what's right.

This is the first book I've read of Elizabeth Scott's, but I'm sure it won't be my last. Her writing style is all lovely and flow-y, and she conveys very important themes without trying to sound Important. Give this book a try if you like contemporary stories that are emotionally heavy but not manipulative, characters that grow on you, boys that you just want to hug, or writing that makes your heart beat faster.

Some favorite quotes:

“I always thought of grief as a blow that took everything out of you. And it is like that. But it stays, past that first hard hit. It stays and blows its breath into you.
It's always there, reminding you of what you've lost. What's gone.”

"He made me see all of him, everything, and I want to keep looking."

"I feel his smile then. I don't just see it anymore. It crawls inside me, curls up alongside all my grief."

"One heartbeat, two heartbeats, three heartbeats, more, and you never know when you have used yours up."

This review can also be found at Love at First Page.
Profile Image for Anjie.
689 reviews42 followers
July 20, 2015
gif (This gif was me ... throughout the entire book -- I wish I had a guitar to smash)

Buckle up guys, you're in for a rant and I apologize ahead of time for any unintelligent babble. I'll try to be quick about it. I read this book in about 2 hours, 3 hours at most, not because it was so good that I couldn't put it down but because I had to speed read and skim through it. You know I don't have the heart to DNF books so I wo-manned up and got through it. I don't even know where to begin. Let's start with a positive. I love the premise of the book. When I read the synopsis, I thought I would love it. Here I thought there would be this whirlwind journey of finding love amidst the darkness that Emma was shrouded in. I mean I wasn't entirely wrong.

There were so many other things that could've been done with this book. The ideas and potential were there. It was unique and tragic. The plot was effective but it was improperly executed. One thing I didn't enjoy was the writing style. I don't know if it was purposely done but it was way too repetitive for me. Every chapter felt like I was getting a summary of what the book was about and what Emma went through in the previous chapter. I was going insane. I kept going further though because I wanted to see how it ended, if there was going to be some kind of dynamic change or epiphany for Emma. There was alright and it happened 238 pages in -- out of 244 pages. There was no character development -- at all ... for any of the characters here. The best was probably her best friend and her stepdad and they both deserve awards for having to deal with someone like Emma. You can imagine my frustration


To my last point, this is where all my anger lies in, where I decided that I might actually physically hate a book. The main character is the worst main character that I've ever read and she's not even the villain! With all the depressing things she had to go through, her mother's death and having to deal with it everyday, for the life of me, I could not empathize with her. She made is so hard. Just let me count the ways. She was full of hatred, egocentric, selfish, intolerable, and disrespectful. She was down right nasty.

For a 17-year-old, she sure is immature and apparently has the inability to think logically. I despised her point of view. All it ever was was "I" or "me"-- I lost my mother, I was the only one there for her, I didn't chose this for her, I knew her the best, I loved her best, I'm the only one who lost something here -- never once did she really think about what her mother wanted. Never once did she think about how her mother's death affected her stepfather. It was all eyes on me. It was the me, myself, and I trifecta. Along with that, how can someone despise and not even care about their younger sibling who had no say in the matter. Is the baby not your blood? Not your mother's blood?

She was making terrible choices too. Her thought process is this: now that her mom's dead, school doesn't matter. Let's fail absolutely everything. Look I know that I can't even begin to understand how a parent's death would affect me, but I had a close call with my dad and I know that if he did die, I'd want to work extra hard because that's what he'd want for me. A future. Happiness. I just don't understand how Emma couldn't see that her mother would choose to be kept alive by machines for the sake of her baby. Then how she treat her stepfather, who has done nothing but love her, was just awful. She blames him for everything -- give me a freaking break, you're not 5 years old anymore. You've got an actual functioning brain. Use it!

At least Caleb had a legitimate reason for behaving the way he did -- his parents literally look at him with disdain and tell others to do the same for something that wasn't his fault. (Can I say parent of the year award?!?) This might be the worst experience I've ever had with a book. I've never been more angry after reading a book. I couldn't even enjoy the romance. I didn't like it anyway because insta-love. It definitely was not for me, it may be for you but you'll have to take that risk.
Profile Image for Angie.
645 reviews994 followers
January 28, 2014
Originally reviewed here @ Angieville

I've had an ongoing relationship with Elizabeth Scott's books for some time now. Ever since I picked up Bloom and settled in with a nerdy girl like me who played the clarinet. And then there was that one out of this world kiss in the kitchen . . . I'm sorry, where were we? Right. Since then, I've dipped in and out as Scott has continued to write. But it had been awhile since my last outing, and so when Heartbeat began showing up on the early radar, I felt like it was time. I didn't even really delve too much into what it was about before starting. And so I was, well, maybe a little ambushed by the guns this book was packing. Not that I wasn't expecting reality in all its graininess. But. Scott really steps up her emotional stranglehold with this latest contemporary. Let's just say a lot of time has passed since I finished it. It took me that long to decide what I wanted to say and figure out where my feelings were situated.

Emma remembers a time when things were normal. When she could breathe in and out and complain to her mom about the boy she thought she loved and the way her day went. When her stepfather Dan was a welcome, bright addition to their lives. She can remember it all so clearly, it's difficult to accept how vastly things have changed. How now if she wants to talk to her mom she has to go to the hospital room where she's being kept alive on life support while the baby inside her stomach grows to viability. How Dan has become the agent of her misery, as it was his idea to have a baby in the first place. His insistence that they keep her mom alive just long enough for the baby to be born. How if she wants to breathe in and out she has to lock her door and concentrate as hard as she can. Her best friend Olivia is an outlet of sorts, but the chasm between how things were and how they are presents itself on a daily basis. When Emma makes the acquaintance of renowned Bad News Caleb Harrison, no one is more surprised than she to find he's not precisely what everyone in town thinks he is. What's more, what he actually is might be someone who can understand her loss.
The thing about Mom dying is that the world didn't stop. It didn't even slow down. It's flowers and cards and everyone understands but no one does because Mom wasn't Mom to them.

I may have identified more than most with Emma's solitude by virtue of being an only child myself. The similarities may end there (thank heavens), but that passage? I am conversant with the somewhat shattering adult realization that when it comes to your parents, there's no one but you. Mom isn't Mom to anyone else. And so in times of joy and loss, you can look for someone to experience the same moment you are inhabiting, only to find yourself alone. The towering sweeps of emotion in Heartbeat kind of flattened me. I was forced to pause periodically and look up and remember it wasn't happening, to give my rage on Emma's behalf a period in which to cool. I could see Dan's perspective. I could. I just . . . it was never okay. Not for me. And, yes, I did find myself evaluating whether or not the whole agonizing setup and execution was proving too manipulative for this reader. It was a close call at second. But the development with Caleb spared the whole thing from imploding. It was honestly a palpable relief when he arrived on the scene. I appreciated that Caleb and Emma were equals. Neither one cornered the market on pain. It was pretty much sixes from beginning to end. But they discovered each other, slowly and with great reserve. And they held on. And because Emma (and by extension the reader) is able to look away from her own train wreck and see Caleb's version of it, because she's able to worry and care about him, it saves . . . everything. Processing his pain allows her to approach and deal with her own. And vice versa. There are parts of this book I don't ever want to read again. But there are parts I've reread numerous times since. So when you find yourself in need of a balanced and competent delivery of equal parts anger, sadness, and hope, this just might be the one to grab.
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