Our Chemical Hearts, by Krystal Sutherland | Book Review #142

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Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love that he’s been hoping for just hasn’t been in the cards for him – at least not yet. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything’s about to change.

Grace isn’t who Henry pictured as his dream girl; she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys’ clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It’s obvious there’s something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn’t your average story of boy meets girl.

Trigger Warning: Mentions of: Self-Harm, Depression, Car Accidents resulted in Death, & Blood.

Our Chemical Hearts (by Krystal Sutherland) is a book that is raw in all meaning of the word. There’s no holding back in the language or in the way that the main character, Henry thinks. Our Chemical Hearts is about first-loves as much as it is about friendship, family, and love. All types of love. 

‘I want to orbit her, be around her, the way the Earth orbits the sun.’

Right off the bat, I know this book would be somewhat interesting because Henry breaks the fourth wall. He talks to the reader. And then he’d go back to the story at hand (no pun intended). I found myself laughing a lot throughout this book. Saying that though, I feel like I should admit that the characters in this book gave me a headache. All of the characters seem so…realistically teenager-ish. Reading this book from a male’s point of view though was a nice change in things.

‘Dying only meant that the atoms briefly allotted to your human form were to be re-dispersed elsewhere.’

I realized quickly into the book that the story somewhat fell flat to me. I was getting bored, and then I put off reading this book for fear that the rest of the book would be just as flat. However, with continuing on in the book, I realized that this was not the case. In fact, it was just the opposite: the characters were starting to spin out of control, almost.

‘Human beings could not be mended with gold seams.’

What I like about the book is that everything is honest. So, brutally, honest. For instance, the older people (middle age, if you will, the adults) were very realistic. You see how Henry’s world unfolds around him, even if Henry himself doesn’t realize it at the time. We see Henry start to…wake up. He was in this funk before where he was fine with just getting by. He was in a daze, and the moment that Grace was in his line of sight, we see him…come alive. Everything about this book is honest in a way that a lot of books aren’t. I like that this book is actually realistic and not a book that is like a fabricated lie. Like not every book has to be a happy one. Yes, there can be and there is happy moments, but everyone’s story is different; and I think that Our Chemical Hearts is a great rendition of that. And I like that this book has great one-liners that are easily quote-able.

‘Maybe we were both in love with ideas.’

With that been said, there are a few things that I don’t like about Henry and this story. I absolutely hate the fact that Grace was, well, Grace. There were definitely times where I could see what Henry saw in her. However, as normal stories do, we see the “real” Grace by the end of the book.

What I don’t like about Henry’s character is that he ignored a lot of telling signs that Grace gave him. I don’t like the fact that Henry is so mystified by Grace as to who and what she is like as a person that he blatantly ignored a lot of things. And he even says this as well: that he ignored a lot of things for Grace. Just to be around her. Henry gets so caught up in Grace, that he doesn’t realize how toxic the whatever-they-have is hurting both of them. I really hate the fact that Henry was sort of -if not already- obsessed with Grace.

Our Chemical Hearts is one of the few Contemporary novels that are true in the telling that not all stories have happy endings. And I’m glad that this one doesn’t have a happy-go-lucky ending. If it were I’d be pretty upset. So this book is one that I won’t forget about for a while. With it’s honesty and almost fragile way. I’m glad I read Our Chemical Hearts. There were a lot of topics that I agreed with, and a few that I didn’t agree with.

That is it for my review of Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland. I hope you get your hands on this book, because it’s well worth the read! If you’re at all interested in Our Chemical Hearts, you can be lead to this book on Goodreads by clicking here. Thank you for reading!

Happy Reading!
Adele

‘”Aren’t you listening, doofus? Love doesn’t need to last a lifetime to be real. You can’t judge the quality of a love by the length of time it lasts. Everything dies, love included. Sometimes it dies with a person, sometimes it dies on its own. The greatest love story ever told doesn’t have to be about two people who spent their whole lives together. It might be about a love that lasted two weeks or two months or two years, but burned brighter and hotter and more brilliantly than any other love before or after. Don’t mourn a failed love; there’s no such thing. All love is equal in the brain.”‘

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