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Hearts Unbroken

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,948 ratings  ·  526 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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Tanyx 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 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,948 ratings  ·  526 reviews

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Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
***read for YA lit course***
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
Nov 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Joey cocked his head. "Nobody's fucking GETTING to ME."

"Language," Ms. Wilson echoed, sounding impressed. Because he was a badass, too.
pg. 44

Miracle of miracles, I actually liked this. I liked a YA book. Wonders never cease. Good thing I ignored the GR reviews of this, which mostly painted it as mediocre, and tried it out for myself.

Perhaps the reason I liked it so much is because I have such low expectations for YA. I expect YA to be terrible, so when it's not terrible I'm always pleasantly su
May 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars

Really fantastic YA contemporary with a romance plot! Hearts Unbroken follows Louise Wolfe, an indigenous teen girl who has just broken up with her boyfriend because of comments he made about native people. Now white parents in their small town are in an uproar about the inclusive casting of a high school production of The Wizard of Oz. Meanwhile Louise and her colleague on the school paper (a cute Lebanese-American boy named Joey) slowly develop a romance while engaging in journalism
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
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
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
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
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
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
Shelves: contemporary, ya, arcs, diverse
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
My Rating: 3.5 stars, rounded up

Hearts Unbroken is a cute love story about Lou, a Native student journalist living in Kansas dealing with the stress of high school, personal life and just being a teenager. After a bit of a messy breakup with her ex-boyfriend, jock Cam Ryan, who disrespects Native people, and a lot of controversies around the casting of her high school's performance of the musical The Wizard of Oz, Lou is thrown into a bigger mess than just high school politics.

My Breakdow
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
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
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
Caitlin R.
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
[4.5/5 stars] This was our September Book Club pick, and I absolutely devoured it. This book was a teen YA romance/drama, with a perfect mix of intersectionality. The book touched on themes of race/culture, sexism, bullying, socioeconomic status. I was impressed by how intersectional one book could be! This is this first book I’ve ever read by Cynthia Leitich Smith, but it for sure will not be my last!
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 (The Devils We Find)
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
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
Smith has created a fantastic flawed protagonist Lou using freedom of speech and of the press to write stories of social injustice, racism, and bullying in her school and community.
When the issues begin to escalate, these stories and their sources will begin to effect everyone, including teachers, parents, students, Lou's brother, and even herself.
Join her and Joey, her Middle Eastern-descended co-journalist/videographer, as they set out to find the source of these impactful situations.

Correna Dillon
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is now one of my favorite YA novels of all time. I don't think it can top how much I loved Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants back in the day. However, this is definitely the best YA I have ever read as an adult! The story was so much better than I thought it would be. It was very timely and politically aware without being didactic. This is owed in large part to how down to earth and likable the characters were. They were funny in some moments and flawed in others. No one in the book was per ...more
Joy Kirr
Although too mature for my seventh graders (especially in the jeep during the tornado), this book weaves a lot of complex issues into this romance. There were a TON of characters (I think to capture the diversity of this school in Kansas), and I often had to go back to see who they were (although sometimes it didn't matter). After the vandalism, my favorite quote was, "Every breath is a victory." I loved Lou's family, but didn't really get to know the other characters in the story. I also loved ...more
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
Apr 22, 2021 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.
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MSU LIT 382-Summe...: Hearts Unbroken Reviews 34 14 May 31, 2021 10:35PM  

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Cynthia Leitich Smith (born 1967) is a New York Times best-selling author of fiction for children and young adults. A member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, she writes fiction for children centered on the lives of modern-day American Indians. She also writes picture books and YA gothic fantasies. She hosts a website for Children's Literature Resources.

Smith, a graduate of the University of Kansas an

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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,...
95 likes · 14 comments
“We specialize in story-- story is what defines us, what brings people together” 0 likes
“Damn it, Lou!' Two hours later, Cam pounded at the steering wheel of his SUV, which was parked in my driveway. 'Stop being so dramatic. I can't second-guess every fucking word that flies out of my fucking mouth. If you pick, pick, pick at every goddamn little thing and ignore what I'm really trying to say, you're the one that's not respecting me enough to listen.” 0 likes
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