May 08, 12
Everyone! If You Only Read One Contemp Ever, Read This!
Read on April 26, 2012, read count: Once, But It Hasn't Left My Head!
"Don't believe everything you read."
Everyone thinks they know Emily, daughter of the infamous gangster Harry Koll, the girl who went to any length to get back at the one who got her dad sent to prison.
People say she's evil. They judge her even though they don't know her.
Now Emily’s an inmate at Archway Young Offenders Institution, awaiting her trial.
But she's telling her story for the first time, in this notebook. Letting us know who she was, who she might have been, what she lost...
And why she did what she did...
You know when you read a book, and it just kinda strikes a chord? Plays all the right notes? Makes you feel warm one moment and raw and utterly alone in the very next? For me, Heart-Shaped Bruise was That Book. I devoured it, read it in a single sitting, unable to put it down. It was beautiful. It was horrible. It was painful. It tugged at every single heart string I possess. It made me love so much, lose so much, miss so much, feel so much. Just so much, so much ‘til I thought I'd explode... Seriously, Tanya: whatever your next book is, I cannot wait. And thank you so much for writing this! It is one of my 2012 favourites – one of my favourites full stop.
Emily Koll was an amazingly complex character, snarky and strong, but also vulnerable and broken. She was so real, so miserable, so alone. Maybe I should have hated her for everything she did, but I just couldn't. Not for a second. Smart, funny, vulnerable, tough, broken Emily, who took revenge but who I loved whole heatedly none-the-less. I bow down to Tanya Byrne: You created an amazing lead I loved no matter what she did.
I have to comment on the relationship between Emily and Juliet, because it was intriguing. Juliet, AKA "Dad Stabber" (to Emily), was the target of Emily’s anger and hatred. This part made sense, but it was like Emily admired and liked Juliet too – which added more depth to Emily – and this was odd, breath-taking, strange, genius.
All of the characters were so amazingly real and alive and unique. I loved them all, no matter how small their part was. There was Sid King, the boy who stole the infamous Emily Koll's heart. He was arty and cute and clever and so, so good. I adored Grace Humm, Emily’s personal tutor at college. Grace was wacky, bonkers, hilarious – I loved her, even though she was only in one chapter!
The relationship between the girls at the institution was quite intriguing. There was lots of banter, which made me laugh, and so many broken girls it crushed my heart in two. I especially loved Naomi "(17, schizophrenic)" and Lily "(16, anorexic)". Both girls felt so real, and even though they were broken they really managed to make me laugh!
The writing was beautiful, dreadful, breath-taking. As I read, I could feel Emily, feel everything she felt, saw everything she saw. It was utterly addictive and just heart breaking. And I loved how it was written - a notebook-journal-style tangle of Emily’s life now and before. The plot was equally incredible and utterly addictive. I was desperate to know everything about Emily, why she did what she did. What she did – we knew she'd done something really, really bad to be in the Institute, but we didn't know exactly what. I was totally, completely hooked to every single word, trying to figure Emily out. In a strange way, even though I zoomed through it at the speed of light, I never ever wanted the book to end.
The emotions were just non-stop, overwhelming. To borrow a phrase from Emily: "my heart"! God, Ms Byrne sure knew how to tear a girl up inside! It was raw, so raw it hurt. And I felt how alone Emily was. God, it was dreadful. No one should be alone like that. No one. Not even the daughter of a gangster who did SOMETHING bad, who is just fictional anyway. Again let me simply say: "my heart"...
There was crushing despair and overwhelming loneliness and heart-breaking hope. Even if I mildly wanted to stop, God knows I wouldn't have been able to. I adored this book - every second. I never wanted to stop. Not ever. It was beautiful, so much so it hurt. I adored it. An amazing, breath-taking, heart-breaking, beautiful debut, one that left me reeling, one I could not put down. One I can't get out of my head. If you read just one contemp ever, read Heart-Shaped Bruise. Seriously. You won't regret it.