Our Chemical Hearts

Krystal Sutherland

Our Chemical Hearts
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Our Chemical Hearts

Krystal Sutherland

John Green meets Rainbow Rowell in this irresistible story of first  love, broken hearts, and the golden seams that put them back together again.

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.

Review

There’s already quite a bit of buzz about Krystal Sutherland’s debut novel, with comparisons being drawn to John Green and Rainbow Rowell and a movie already in the works. It’s a big vote of confidence in this young Queensland writer, and a good indicator of what’s to come from her.

Our Chemical Hearts is a funny and heartfelt story about first love and, of course, a story about first heartbreak. Henry Page is a smart and self-aware teenager who’s happily managed to make it to the ripe old age of seventeen without losing his heart to anyone. Content to hang out with his friends (Murray, the Australian Steve Irwin parody; and Lola, the gay Chinese/Haitian ‘diversity triple threat’), avoid the scandal that dogged his older sister’s senior year, and secure his position as editor of the yearbook, Henry is totally unprepared for Grace Town.

Greasy-haired, shrouded in men’s clothing, and burdened with a cane to help her walk, Grace is an unlikely romantic interest; but her closely-held secrets, enigmatic behaviour, and quick wit soon has Henry smitten. But is he falling in love with the girl, or the idea of one? Sutherland isn’t writing in a vacuum, and there’s a slightly manic immediacy to Our Chemical Hearts that will be appealing to young readers who live in a fast-paced digital world. It’s peppered throughout with pop-culture references and in-jokes, sly little nods and winks for experienced readers who are familiar with the tropes that crop up again and again in YA fiction.

Our Chemical Hearts acknowledges and pays tribute to the ever-popular genre of Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girls-and-the-men-who-love-them, but turns it gently on its head by developing into a story that proves that love is complicated and people more so. This is an accomplished first novel and an enjoyable read that blends humour with heart.


Lian Hingee is the digital marketing manager for Readings.

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