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by Garret Freymann-Weyr
Listening Library, 2003
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on May 2nd 2003

My Heartbeat

Ellen is fourteen and she and her rather intellectual family live in New York City.  In the fall she starts attending the same private Manhattan high school as her brother Link and his best friend James, who are both seniors, and she starts to see their relationship in a new light.  She is very close to both of them, and admires their wonderful wordplay.  She loves being around them.  So when one night she summons up the courage to ask them if they are gay, she is appalled when her action causes terrible friction between the friends.  She wonders whether being gay is just a matter of wanting to having sex with people of the same gender, or whether there is something more to it.  She starts reading lots of literature on being gay, and gets a little clearer about it all.  But her brother and James are themselves unsure about their own sexuality.  What's more, Link's anger with Ellen and James pushes the two of them together, and the relationship that Ellen always dreamt about having with James starts to look like a real possibility.  

My Heartbeat is well written, with rounded characters and a well-paced plot.  Ellen is an appealing narrator, spelling out the events with plenty of wry humor and combined with a believable naivety.  In the process, the book spells out lots of ideas about being gay, and shows how teenagers may try to think their way through their concerns, albeit in a rather intellectualized way.  The story will probably appeal most to readers who can  identity with the characters, and given the rather high-brow interests of the characters and their professional families, this may be a rather small slice of the population.  Nevertheless, My Heartbeat is an unusually interesting book for young adults dealing with important issues.  Christy Carlson Romano reads the unabridged audiobook well, keeping the energy level high, and she sounds young enough to be believable as a fourteen-year-old girl.

 

© 2003 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island, and editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.