Heartbeat. So good on so many levels, but also so, so heavy.
Emotion. There’s grief and then there’s anger that’s not entirely baseless; later there’s the normal-ness in how she wants certain things. Layer on those lines made between her and her step-father as well as that between their before and after. All of those stemming from one loss that’s obvious but leading to another loss that’s not immediately apparent
Connection. Then for her to find that connection in him; no that unsought moment of the both of them finding each other when they do because they’re both lost--- but it’s the mirroring between them that them make even more sense. That rightness becoming even truer as they both realize: it’s OK not to be OK. But mainly, my love for them stems from neither of them saving each other (since they couldn’t) rather they’re simply there for each other:
”I see that he is beautiful. Not just outside, but inside, under the mistakes and anger and grief, is a heart that beats pure and true… He wishes for things that can’t ever be… He wants things whole, but knows they can’t. He sees that and doesn’t look away.”
Truth. It’s the boy’s very presence for her that tones down the sad, rendering moments of Heart Beat… unexpectedly sweet because it truly does go in sharp contrast against the angrier moments of her “look at me, see me” antics. And that second bit? All very elephant-on-chest for me, simply because her anger: it’s not an unreasonable baseless one. It’s all clearly laid out so that I felt with her. So if we start grief, with her step dad in the picture, it’s transformed into this anger coloring her every recollection of her mother and her opinion of that choice that’s already been made. So there’s truth in her emotion; there’s accuracy in her perception of what’s been done. BUT the loss here is so much more than first assessed.
But best: there’s that similarity in position, not just between her and her step dad, but between her the her love interest (whose name eludes me right now!!! Gah!) It is true, that “I know what you’re going through” and not just one of them playing lip service to the other… even if she couldn’t see the same.
Another layer to all this is the role her best friend plays - a marker of sorts between what was and what now is. But at the same time: it’s a reasonable desire on the lead’s part (to want something to be the same, untouched) considering everything else. So, yes grief in fact is a big thing… but it’s not the only thing.
-That they neither save each other, but are merely there… unexpectedly.
-That same unexpectedness is what adds much needed sweetness, in what would have been a too emotion-heavy read.
-And the honesty in emotions based on grief morphed into anger.
-And last, that it’s an anger that’s clearly laid out, not at all baseless