Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Red Heart Tattoo by Lurlene McDaniel

Title:   Red Heart Tattoo
Author:  Lurlene McDaniel
Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date:  July 24, 2012

My Rating:

From Goodreads:

At 7:45 a.m. on the day before Thanksgiving break, a bomb goes off at Edison High. Nine people die instantly. Fifteen are critically injured. Twenty-two suffer less severe injuries. And one is blinded. Those who survive struggle to cope with the loss and destruction. All must find new meaning for their lives as a result of something they may never understand.

Lurlene McDaniel's signature expertise and finesse in dealing with issues of violence, death, and physical as well as emotional trauma in the lives of teens is immediate and heartrending.

I knew what was ahead - it’s there in the summary, so I began this story, nervously anticipating the tragedy that was going to transpire. What I wasn’t prepared for was how engaging these characters would be. In the beginning of the book, the author does a phenomenal job introducing them and really letting you get to know them. Most are seniors on the verge of graduating and making their mark in the real world. Some have earnest and significant academic goals, and others....not so much. There are the jocks with their highly-valued and prized football scholarships, the cheerleaders who love them, and then there are the outsiders and the social pariahs. All on different paths, from different sides of the track, but there is an approaching, impending disaster that will bond them for life.

We all know how quickly life can change - how swiftly what we have can be taken away. We get lost in our day-to-day, forgetting that so much can be gone in an instant. It’s how we deal with it afterwards that separates us and defines us as individuals. I believe that is what is most frightening about this book. This can really happen. This has really happened.

Red Heart Tattoo was filled with beautiful and captivating writing. From the popular in-crowd to the outcasts, it was so easy to become invested in these characters. This is not my go-to genre, but I was engrossed from beginning to end. Morgan and Roth’s stories were my favorite, but all of the supporting characters rounded out the book perfectly. Morgan’s ordeal was devastating and truly heart-breaking. But her strength and her determination to overcome such tragedy were both amazing and inspiring.

“‘I will not be broken. We will not be broken.’”

The ending had a bit of a twist that I wasn’t expecting. It left me wanting to know more, and I found myself thinking about the characters and their stories throughout the rest of the day. Red Heart Tattoo is the first book I have read by Lurlene McDaniel, and I can promise you it won’t be my last.

A copy of this book was provided by Netgalley for review.