Title: Heart Shaped Rock
Author: Laura Roppe
Number of Pages: 316
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Cancer
Source: Review copy received from author via YA Bound Book Tours
In a nutshell: A wonderful book of first love, grief and how music will always cheer you up ♥ (notice I actually never put emojis or heart symbols into my reviews, but this time, I just couldn’t resist it because I’m IN LOVE with the book.)
|Sometimes a shattered heart needs to sing to love again . . . Sixteen year old singer-songwriter Shaynee Sullivan hasn’t so much as touched her guitar since her mom died six months ago. But when she meets a gorgeous and surprising rocker named Dean, her shattered heart begins to mend . . . and then burst at the seams. Heart-wrenching, heart-warming, and sometimes even heart-racing, Heart Shaped Rock will leave you laughing through tears and rooting for love in all its forms.
I basically started reading Heart Shaped Rock with zero expectations. I just had that thing for YA contemporaries at the time when I was requesting the book for review, and I also really liked the book cover. I mean, just look at the pretty yellow dress the girl is wearing and the small details in the lettering (the clef! The staff!).
And tell you what guys, not only does the cover look superb, having finished the book, I just have to say that it also perfectly captures the story! And I’m still speechless. Laura Roppe has created some kind of masterpiece.
Sixteen year old Shaynee Sullivan just lost her mother to cancer and has not touched her guitar since ever since, although music always used to be a way of communication for her and her mom. Her life slowly starts to change when she takes up her new job at a beach café with her best friend, Tiffany. Then, she also meets Dean — a motorcycle boy with a leather jacket who does not only play in a band, but also turns out to be drop-dead gorgeous! I was a little bit sceptical of his character at first because seriously? Another 17-year-old bad boy who is supposed to fix up a heartbroken girl?
But man, I was so wrong! I shipped Shaynee and Dean so much throughout the story because you really see how crazy they are about each other. Dean gets Shaynee and I really liked the way they declare their love for each other — through music and lyrics. Their dates are not conventional — they are passionate and you basically just feel their raw and pure love. They make you realize how cool it is to be young, to be free from worry and just to live.
They act “silly” and just completely let go in front of each other — but this is exactly what makes their relationship special and their love story extraordinary. Of course I sometimes felt as if their relationship came a little bit rash. You can clearly see their mutual attraction but they actually kiss each other at their second or third meeting! However, I quickly found myself falling for the intensity of Shaynee and Dean’s relationship which was literally poetic. They do have their ups and downs, but this all really did not matter because deep in their hearts they both know they are so much better together than apart! It still gives me that smile when I think of them. Do you see how blurry my sentences have become? Because I seriously don’t have any words for describing the heartwarming feeling I got when I read the passages with them two together.
But let’s not forget the secondary characters! First off, Tiffany, Shaynee’s BFF. They share such a genuine and sincere friendship and watching them fooling around together made me realize how thankful I am for my own friends. She supports Shaynee without any questions although there were clearly some moments where I personally would have been deeply disappointed by Shaynee: She leads a life like a hermit and excludes herself from social life at school on purpose. Tiffany (or Typhani, how she prefers to be “called” in the café) has that unconditional love for Shaynee, the same love Shaynee has for her own brother and dad even though she is not always able to show it.
Speaking of which, I’m just so in love with Shaynee’s character. I don’t want to get emotional here, so I am just going to say that a very close family member of mine was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years back, too, and it was like going through hell. Reading Heart Shaped Rock made me realize….well, what it would have been if said family member had died? I know I would have put on that same facade, just like Shaynee does, would have built the same walls around me. I think this harsh possible reality is exactly the thing that gripped me right from the beginning.
Have I also mentioned yet I totally fell in love with Shaynee’s family dynamics? Because I did, and hard. It was gut-wrenching to see how deeply they care about each other, especially her younger brother, Lennox. There is actually a scene where he says something about rather dying with her out of grief than leaving her side…this was one of the moments where it became clear how mature they both are for their ages.
I often felt sorry for their dad because he actually lost the love of his life – his helplessness and cluelessness were both such strong emotions – but I so admired him for staying strong for his kids. Reading Heart Shaped Rock shows you it is okay to be weak sometimes, but also to feel compassion for other people.
There were so many small details I loved about this book, starting from the nicknames they give each other (Shaynee is sometimes actually called Shay-Shay) to the birthday presents Shaynee’s mother left her, as well as to her dad and Lennox in the form of videos or self-written stories, to the music which runs like a golden thread through the story. You just really understand all of her gifts, their symbolic meanings, as well as the love in each message her mom sent them. Love is so seizable in the book. There were many moments in the book when I was crying because I just could totally relate to Shaynee’s feelings; it was like watching an alternative me from the outside. Seeing Shaynee finding the strength to start singing and playing the guitar again was just such a strong symbolic act.
There are barely any books out there that have ever touched me so much, but Heart Shaped Rock is definitely one of those. I don’t know, but Laura Roppe just finds the perfect words and the perfect tone to write such a sensitive story. Laura Roppe, I adore your writing!
I did not care there was insta love. I did not care Shaynee was sometimes selfish, impulsive and even mean because her character was simply authentic. It felt as if I was reading a book that has made hope come to life. Oh, and the lyrics of all the songs in the book…gotta love them!
By writing Heart Shaped Rock Roppe has created a very powerful story about first love and grief, but also about overcoming this pain and just to seize the day and live. It’s a beautifully written piece of art and I already know it’ll be stuck in my heart forever. Thank you, Laura Roppe, for writing such a wonderful, true and honest story.