Disclaimer: This is my first Colleen Hoover novel, I’ve not read any of her other works, so I don’t have anything to compare it to in terms of ranking. Being a popular author, I came into this novel thinking that it was potentially overhyped. Now I know why people love Colleen Hoover. Beware of spoilers for Heart Bones below.
This is the truth of it: This novel’s concept is nothing more than what you can find in a cheesy fanfiction or a chick lit novel. When I started reading, I immediately disliked the book. For the first 100 or so pages, I groaned and complained as I read. It was so cliche- the poor girl going to live with her absentee father and his rich new family and the new pretty sister and the fancy new house on the beach. Meeting the guys on the ferry, only: GASP! The one guy is her sister’s boyfriend and the other lives next door. Blah, blah, blah. It was so stereotypical I wanted to set it down. I considered it no better than the work of a bumbly indie author with nothing to say.
BUT… Little things began to line up and connect. A saying here, a quote there. Colleen Hoover’s writing is brilliant for how she states things, the understated meaning in her writing. It’s stereotypical because it fits a reality, and she has a wonderful mastery of how to portray that. The balance, the story arcs, the little details, they all became wonderful.
At first, I did not care for Beyah or her family or even Samson. But they crept up on me. The more I read, the more I related. The more I understood them, the more I melted into the story. I realized that, perhaps, I was judging the beginning of the book a little too harshly. The truth is that, while it is a stereotypical situation, Ms. Hoover puts her own wonderful twists on it, with enough unique details to transform it into an unforgettable story.
Many little details touched upon my heartstrings. Beyah’s judgments of her sister and father, her anger and grudges, were relatable. I loved seeing her slowly warm to the family throughout the story, becoming one of them- and finding out details about her past that she had locked away in her memories. I loved the redemption there, the growth of her life. It was especially important to me that she described Volleyball as being her necessity, not something she enjoyed- and was encouraged to enjoy her summer and give herself a break. But by the end, she discovered how much she missed it, and she melted back into playing it. Samson’s show of cheering her on was one of my favorite parts of the book- something silly but oh-so-important to her.
Speaking of Samson. I didn’t think much of him when the novel started. Blue eyed, silent bad boy? Typical. Kissing girls without caring? Average. But then his layers were beginning to be peeled back… And I could see why Beyah would fall for him. I don’t want to spoil this book, but the little details stole the show. So let me just mention a few.
Rake. The hurricane. The tattoos. The outdoor shower. Secrets. No hugging. Vulnerability. Deep instead of depressing. Balconies and rooftops. Jellyfish stings. Gifts of bagged nuts.
I feel like Samson and Beyah are, of course, the heart of the book- but the family and the secrets are just as important. In the middle of this book, I would have given it three stars. But then the ending unfolded, and my breath got stolen. I never saw the end coming. Looking back, it was obvious- but perfectly woven in and hidden. A writer who excels at a plot twist- it’s truly great. Not only was the twist great, but the way it was handled was meaningful. It personally spoke to me, and I related heavily to it. This book made my heart full, it made me text my girlfriend at three in the morning to tell her how much she meant to me- and how much I related to Beyah and her love for Simon. There’s a definite bond you get with someone who has the same darkness- the same suffering- that you do. I understood her instant desire to help him in the end, her desire to stay with him and fight for him. And I respected her never giving up on him, even when she opened herself up to moving on. She was still there for him in the end, like she wanted to be from the start. I know what it’s like to devote yourself to someone in that way, to desperately fight on their behalf and pour your energy into them. I know what kind of love that is.
This book went from cliche, to deeply personal. Several lines throughout the book became dear to me, quotable and cherished. It rose to a 5/5 stars by the end, and I have no regrets. I plan on reading more by Colleen Hoover, but I think this one in particular will always hold a special place in my heart.