A really lovely and honest portrayal of first love, and all the messiness that comes with it, Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland is perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, John Green, and books like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and More Happy Than Not.
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. Krystal Sutherland’s brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.
Sutherland just beautifully captures all the messiness of first love and heartbreak and loss, and the crushing realization that real life — and real love — isn’t usually like the stuff of books and movies and fairy tales.
Our Chemical Hearts is at a times funny and sad and sweet and romantic; it is heartwarming and heartbreaking. It is, really, a little capsule of all the things that make up life: love and friendship and loss and failure and success. Sutherland has captured a little slice of the world, and written it up.
This is exactly what contemporary YA fiction should be: realistic and ultimately hopeful at the same time. Look for Our Chemical Hearts, in stores now.