book review: A Heart in a Body in the World | gorgeous YA contemporary!

Hello my fellow book lovers! Remember when I used to write my reviews right after finishing a book? I miss those days 😦 I’ve been a terrible book blogger in 2019 and had to force myself to read an audiobook instead of starting another podcast. I picked up a Heart in a Body in the World on a whim and I absolutely loved it!

from Goodreads

When everything has been taken from you, what else is there to do but run?

So that’s what Annabelle does—she runs from Seattle to Washington, DC, through mountain passes and suburban landscapes, from long lonely roads to college towns. She’s not ready to think about the why yet, just the how—muscles burning, heart pumping, feet pounding the earth. But no matter how hard she tries, she can’t outrun the tragedy from the past year, or the person—The Taker—that haunts her.

Followed by Grandpa Ed in his RV and backed by her brother and two friends (her self-appointed publicity team), Annabelle becomes a reluctant activist as people connect her journey to the trauma from her past. Her cross-country run gains media attention and she is cheered on as she crosses state borders, and is even thrown a block party and given gifts. The support would be nice, if Annabelle could escape the guilt and the shame from what happened back home. They say it isn’t her fault, but she can’t feel the truth of that.

Through welcome and unwelcome distractions, she just keeps running, to the destination that awaits her. There, she’ll finally face what lies behind her—the miles and love and loss…and what is to come.

I didn’t know much about a Heart in a Body in the World before picking it up. I had seen some glowing reviews, but not many people I know had read it yet. I read the audiobook and would recommend that format, it was good.

Annabelle has a complicated relationship with her mother. Her mother is protective and clearly loves her, but she’s also a source of much anxiety. Growing up, Annabelle’s mother taught her to always be vigilant, which resulted in her feeling scared and anxious. My father is a policeman, so I could very much relate to Annabelle’s experiences. I know it comes from a place of love, but considering I have anxiety disorders, I don’t think it’s the best way to parent your children.

I must say that I loved the family dynamics in this novel. They’re messy, but nonetheless beautiful. Annabelle’s brother helps her with the logistics of her journey and her grandfather Ed follows her in his RV.

I’m usually not fond of road trips, or plots where the characters have to travel from point A to point B. A Heart in a Body in the World, however, is just as much an emotional journey as it is a physical one. While running, Annabelle reluctantly confronts her feelings of guilt and sorrow.

So what caused our main character to feel this way? Though the reader doesn’t find out until towards the end of the novel, I don’t think the reveal was sensationalised. In my opinion, it made a lot of sense considering we were following Annabelle’s story as she tried to avoid thinking about the traumatic event at all costs.

The scene where we finally found it what caused her heartbreak, was emotional. This is a gorgeous novel that deals with a plethora of topics: toxic masculinity and how women should feel flattered as opposed to acknowledge that a man is making them uncomfortable.

If you are interested in picking this up, I highly recommend it. Annabelle was a wonderful protagonist who I related to and I think the difficult topics were dealt with respectfully.

content and trigger warnings for (might contain spoilers!) “his or her” instead of “their”, animal death, PTSD, anxiety, gun violence, murder, toxic masculinity, sexual harassment


Have you read this book yet? What were your thoughts? Do you plan on picking it up?

Thank you for reading,

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3 thoughts on “book review: A Heart in a Body in the World | gorgeous YA contemporary!

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