A Heart in a Body In the World


I have always been a huge Deb Caletti fan. Her books always include some deep and dreamy romance that in no way exists for real teenagers. But she also has long introspective inner dialogue that leaves me feeling like I’m in a sundress in a field of flowers, or something.

Anyway, her newest book has all of that. It is a great YA book. The characters are charming and quirky. The story is different than some other YA books. There are some moments of humor. But I do not care about all of that. This book is getting five stars from me because of a speech that the main character gives at the end of the novel that is so relevant to current times and so important for young women to read, or anyone to read actually who wants to affect some change, that I don’t even care what the rest of the book is about. 

Annabelle Agnelli lives in Seattle with her divorced mother Gina and her genius younger brother Malcolm. Annabelle is popular and pretty and perfect, but has gone through some kind of tragedy before the book starts which she refuses to let herself think about, so much so that as a reader you do not get the entire story until the end of the book ( but you can pretty much guess). She obviously is not handling this tragedy well and everyone seems to be handling her with kid gloves. Annabelle has so many pent up feelings that she decides to just…run. As in run cross country. As in run with her own two legs to Washington D.C. and she decides this in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant and she takes off with the clothing on her back and nothing else. Cut to a month or so later when she is actually on this trip in a more organized way (accompanied by her Grandfather and his RV) and with a GoFundMe bank account that people who are inspired by her cause (what is her cause again?) have been donating to. Annabelle wants to keep her journey personal but people can’t help but to be inspired by her ability to move on from her tragedy (which is what?) and persevere. Whatever.

Towards the end of the novel is where the speech happens. In a world where school shootings are regular news, the #metoo movement is taking over, and Supreme Court Justice nominees can also have (allegedly) committed sexual assault: Annabelle’s own personal tragedy can take all of these topics into one and she finally is able to speak out loud on her story and MAN does she say everything that I have been thinking for the past few months about all of these topics. I cried while reading it. I wrote it down in an e-mail to myself.

Go Deb Caletti. You are my new personal hero.

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