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Hearts Unbroken

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,051 ratings  ·  320 reviews
New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith turns to realistic fiction with the thoughtful story of a Native teen navigating the complicated, confusing waters of high school — and first love.

When Louise Wolfe’s first real boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. It’s her senior year, anyway
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 9th 2018 by Candlewick Press
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BrittainX I'd say the main villain is a parent's organization that is against diverse casting in the school play. There's also conflict with the MC's ex, and va…moreI'd say the main villain is a parent's organization that is against diverse casting in the school play. There's also conflict with the MC's ex, and various racist actions. (less)

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Average rating 3.68  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,051 ratings  ·  320 reviews

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Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher (Candlewick Press) as well as from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers. Yes, I ended up with two ARCs because I had sent a review request to the publisher (which they granted) and had entered to win the book on LibraryThing (and ended up winning a copy).

I give this book 3.5 stars which rounds up to 4.

I was so excited to read this book because I have read very few books about the Native American experience and wanted to learn more.


I loved t
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2018, arc
*Thanks again to Candlewick Press for sending me an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

The premise of “Hearts Unbroken“ sounded amazing. We have Louise Wolf, our female main character, who is a Native teen trying to deal with high school and the problems that come with first love. She’s a confident girl who doesn’t take shit from her boyfriend when he insults Native people in front of her and just dumps him via email, also because she’d much rather spend time with
Aimee ♥ | Aimee, Always
i love this heroine already????
"When Louise Wolfe’s first real boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail."

yaaaas you go girl
Kristy K
This book touches on such an important matter and underrepresented voice; however, I feel that if this had been about anything else, it would not have been published. The writing was poor: it read like a laundry list of things that happened with moments of dialogue to break it up. Nothing was fleshed out. Within the first ten percent of the book multiple Native American stereotypes had been mentioned (by a white character making a comment about it), and Louise would be upset and then end scene. ...more
It's been a long time since I've read a YA book with a female main character who is Native (and specifically in this case, Muscogee). This book follows Lou as she navigates her new work on the school newspaper with rampant racism in her suburban Kansas school. When the school play is being cast as inclusively as possible, local parents begin to speak out against "reverse racism,"; this impacts Lou personally not just because of her work on the newspaper and her desire to report it, but also beca ...more
Lily Herman
Jul 21, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a fun one! Cynthia Leitich Smith created a YA novel with a ton of heart, a breezy writing voice, and teens who are way too pithy for their years (which I see as a lively departure!). Louise was such an original character, and I loved how Leitich Smith unpacked her background and created such a rich environment around her.

There were two things I struggled with in here. First, the chapter lengths were uneven, and some were super long while others were maybe half a page, which made it hard
Debbi Florence
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As a fan of Leitich Smith's contemporary work - Jingle Dancer, Indian Shoes, and especially Rain Is Not My Indian Name, I was thrilled to get a hold of the ARC of Hearts Unbroken. Louise Wolfe breaks up with her first boyfriend after he disparages Native people. While working on the school paper, she's paired up with Joey who Lou finds both aggravating and attractive. Attention is on the high school play, Wizard of Oz, and the diverse cast, including Lou's younger brother as the Tin Man. Some pe ...more
Zoë ☆
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, netgalley
I couldn’t get into this... Maybe it was the writing, maybe the characters or even both.. I can’t really place it. I appreciated the effort though, and it had a promising concept. This just didn’t live up to my expectations; it wasn’t really for me unfortunately. 🤷🏼‍♀️
Samantha (WLABB)
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rating: 3.5 Stars

When the new drama teacher embraces color-blind casting for the school's production of The Wizard of Oz, sparks fly in Louise's small town, and she makes a point of getting to the bottom of it, and using her voice to challenge those opposed to the casting choices that were made and threatening her family.

• Pro: Louise was a great protagonist. I loved how fully she embraced her personal identity and was comfortable with it, even when it could cause conflict for her. She was proud
Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries)
See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an eARC I got from the publisher via NetGalley as a staff reviewer for YA Books Central.

We don't have nearly enough #ownvoices Native YA lit on the shelves thanks to gatekeepers and the like in publishing. That's a shame since there are so many different stories to be told and so many people know little of what it's like to be Native in the current United States, but we've got one more right here--and it's a knockout!

When Louise's boyfriend Ca
Nov 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
Note: I received a copy of Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I wanted so badly to enjoy Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith; I loved the fact that this book had Native American representation — something I rarely see in Young Adult fiction. I loved the fact that this book touched on very important topics such as racism, bullying, and slut-shaming. I just couldn’t get behind the execution. Cynthia Leitich Smith’s idea was good, but in my
Shaye Miller
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is another of my #MustReadin2019 selections and this week was the perfect time to read this book since there was a lot of discussion about Halloween and Thanksgiving and all things autumn. The story begins with Louise Wolfe, a Muscogee (Creek) girl, breaking up with her popular boyfriend when he says some disrespectful things about Native Americans. Then we jump to the start of the following school year where she is a senior and her little brother, Hughie, is a freshman. She joins the ...more
Whitley Birks
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Writing for impression, not scenes

So, it took me a long time to get into this book because of the writing style, and I suspect that'll be the same for a lot of other readers. However, once I understood what the book was trying to do and adjusted my own reading habits, we clicked a lot more. I have a habit of reading in between tasks and letting the book tell me where to stop, with chapter breaks or somesuch, and that just didn't work in this book because the scenes are so short. Reading a handfu
The Wizard of Oz is so well known among Americans that most can either quote from the book for the movie or both. The movie was shown every year, back before VCRs, and I knew it so well, and sang all the songs. It is such an American story.

But, as this book points out. L. Frank Baum, the author, was a racist. Not only a racist, but someone who believed in genocide of all native people. Although I thought I knew everything there was to know about him, having read him from childhood, the editorial
Enne (they/he)
3 stars
TW: racism, hate crime
Rep: Native American (Muscogee) MC and SCs

The Writing
The writing felt very bland if that makes sense. There wasn’t much character to it at all and I found myself kind of tuning out at points because I was really bored with the way that the story was being told. The dialogue also felt very forced and I found myself rolling my eyes at it multiple times, which definitely took me out of the story.

The Plot/Pacing
My thing with the plot is that it didn’t feel coher
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 100nativebooks
This book. SO. MUCH. LOVE.

Louise Wolfe (Muscogee (Creek) Nation). She is my sleuthing, never relenting heroine. She brings so much life, SO MUCH NATIVE LIFE to the forefront. In the sense that she drops truths. She meets head on with bigots, lies and racism. A great coming of age book and an excellent book for NATIVE teens to see pieces of themselves.

Fun fact: we get a cameo from someone, a family connection from another book. Y'ALL. I didn't know she was connecting her stories. Not that she te
Gary Anderson
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
At first, Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Hearts Unbroken seems to be a snappy teen romance between Louise, a new-in-town cheerleader proud of her indigenous heritage, and Cam, a wealthy football star. But Cam’s parents lack tolerance, empathy, and other qualities that make humans worthy of their own souls, so by the end of the first chapter, Louise says, “I’ve had enough.”

Readers soon learn that Louise’s new school in Kansas is a nest of micro-aggressions against anyone local elites regard as non-Kansa
Aimal (Bookshelves & Paperbacks)
I received an ARC of this via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Actual rating: 2.5 stars.
Representation: #OwnVoices for Native American rep; Native American protagonist (self-described as having "Muskogee-Cherokee heritage") and the majority-cast is Native; biracial Lebanese/white love interest

✨Perhaps the strongest aspect of Hearts Unbroken is its discussion of various social themes and its ability to tackle them deftly. Smith discusses the various prejudices and micro-aggressio
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley-e-arcs
This book has strong and relevant themes such as racism, bullying and slut shaming. I was really excited to read this but sad to say that it turned out to be a bit of a let down.

While I liked that it was in a school setting and that Louise, the MC, used her comnection with the school paper to report these issues, I wasn't able to connect with her/any of the characters (well maybe except for Hughie). Aside from not being able to connect with the characters, I also felt like the chapters weren't r
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really loved this contemporary YA romance with a Native (Muscogee) heroine! I love the complicated intersections at play here--and I love that as a reader, we 100% get why Louise is a little bit self-righteous, and I love that we get to see her learn to see where other people are coming from a little bit; but never to give up her own pride in her culture or her desire for justice.

It's also a great read for fans of teen journalists & teen theater kids.
Sarah Hannah
Jan 17, 2019 added it
Shelves: 2019, ya
I really liked this. It feels very now, very woke in a way that teenagers today seem to be, and it's nice to see that reflected in a novel. It's also sex positive and funny. A win!
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
I gave it 4.5 stars.

I loved this and I couldn't put it one down! I really loved the journalist aspect and I thought the romance was sweet.
I wanted to like this so much more than I did. Review here. ...more
Sarah Ressler Wright
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous!!! Love the characters, multiple storylines, complexity of Native American story and pointing out micro-aggressions. A positive story, good romance and native issues along with other teen issues all woven together -superbly done! Hope to bring Cynthia to our school!
sav 🌈
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
i really, really liked this book.

first off, i want to say clearly (which is obvious from my profile picture) that i am white. i am a white woman and i have experienced a lot of privilege because of that. and i am also a registered member of the Choctaw Nation and have ancestors that are Indigenous. but, i have learned recently that i don’t think i should say that i am Native. being Native is not my experience and i don’t want to pretend it is. i understood and witnessed, however not personally
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Awwww. I really liked this. None of the characters were perfect, but I really loved Louise. She’s strong and smart and so proud of who she is. She’s also a great daughter and older sister. I loved the messages, liked deciding whether or not to take part in a play written by someone who hates your people. All of the characters were pretty cool. And I love a good journalism story.

The only thing I found weird was the relationship with Joey. It seemed uneven at parts (Louise says they’re dating at
Warnings: racism, discussion of bullying and slut shaming

Conceptually, Hearts Unbroken had a good plot and setting to discuss micro-agressions, racism and bigotry faced by minorities in a predominantly white community. Louise's family had moved to the neighborhood a while back, and in her senior year, she has joined the Journalism club at school and her little brother has been picked to play a major role in the school play. The community's opposition to the casting including children of color in
Celia McMahon
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the e-arc. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own

Louise Wolfe is a Native teen navigating the world in its racism and hatred not only in our present time but also in the past. After her boyfriend says something awful about Natives, she dumps him via email and decides to spend her valuable time as a writer at the school newspaper. Meanwhile, the school play chooses to cast diversely, much to som
I really appreciated the honesty, vulnerability, risk taking, and self assuredness and awareness that went in to Louise. This book tackles and touches upon so many current and ongoing issues, including cultural appropriation, slut shaming, bullying, racism, and whitewashing. I was not aware of Baum’s history of racist ideals and words prior to reading this. I recently read a tweet that pointed out that most movies/books that have a romance of different races, one of them is white, which is very ...more
Kira Brighton
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
A lovely contemporary novel about romance, journalism, and racial justice. I was a big fan of The Wizard of Oz (the book) as a kid, and this definitely confirms my decision to reconsider that. I think art can be separated from the artist to some degree, but... not always.

Content Warning: racism towards Native American, black, Middle Eastern, and Latinx people
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Cynthia's fiction is noted for its diversity, humor, lyricism, and mid-to-southwestern settings. Still early in her career, she has shown tremendous range and loves to experiment.

JINGLE DANCER, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu, (Morrow / Harper-Collins, 2000)(ages 4-up) was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award, runner-up for the Western Writers Association Storyteller Award, a

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Caroline Tung Richmond is an award-winning YA author and the program director of We Need Diverse Books. Run by authors, librarians, teac...
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