Review: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

28186273Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Random House Canada
Publication Date: October 4th, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Point of View: 1st Person & Masculine
Recommended Age: 12+
Pacing: Slow
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Coming of Age

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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.


This may not be the best contemporary book I have ever read, but it’s still an important book with a narrative that needed to be told.

We tend to associate death with illness or age. But what about unpredictable deaths? Those are the worst kind. One day you’re sitting on the couch, watching a movie, and suddenly the telephone rings.

It’s unexpected, but whatever, you pick it up. Who’s at the end of the call? A police officer, telling you a relative died.

Let me go back, that is not exactly the worst kind. The worst kind is being the survivor of an accident that took a loved one’s life.

Why am I talking about this? What does it have to do with the book?

Everything. Henry falls in love with the new girl, Grace. She’s not exactly sexy with her boy clothes and untidy hair. But she’s new and mysterious and those are two qualities that would attract anyone’s attention.

Henry wants to date her. Badly. But he can’t figure her out, so he tries to dig deeper. By doing that, he is exposed to more information than he intended to find. Is //// the reason why Grace moved here, why she changed so strikingly much?

It’s an engaging story that, again, needed to be told. It conveys a powerful message, especially in today’s society. We expect so much of people, more than they can give us. We also make our own idea of someone, or fall in love with a version of them we fabricated in our minds, but that isn’t the real them.

It’s important to limit our expectations. I once had a teacher who told me, ‘‘You can’t expect people to love you, unless they are your parents,’’ and I fully agree. Henry was right to feel interested in Grace – that’s natural human behaviour – but it hit him hard to learn what she was trying to conceal from him and that may have been his fault for idealizing Grace.

My problem is with the character of Henry. He was indeed engaging – but maybe too much. It felt as if he was performing for us, the readers. He did not have that realistic quality to him that I try to look for in all my heroes and heroines. His interactions with his parents, friends and even, at times, Grace were not authentic ones either. Only in comedy movies do I witness parents being so nonchalant or friends acting so melodramatically and enthusiastically. But maybe I’m just a cynic? No sé.

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8 thoughts on “Review: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

  1. Great review! I agree with a lot of what you said, and I completely see what you mean about Henry performing for the readers especially at times, but I kind of enjoyed that performance! 🙂


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