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Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne - Review

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Where did I get it? I bought it at YA Shot in October, and got it signed by Tanya - she was lovely! 

What's it about? Emily Koll is on remand in the psychiatric ward of a Young Offenders Institute and is writing her story down in a notebook which she's going to leave for the next inhabitant of her room. Her dad is a gangster and killed a policeman. The daughter of the policeman, Juliet, then stabbed Emily's dad (but not fatally). Juliet was put into Witness Protection and Emily had to go and live in Spain with her uncle. 
Emily decides to exact revenge and gets a false identity and goes to the same college as Juliet, to do the same A levels. They become friends, and Juliet starts going out with a boy called Sid. Sid and Emily become friends too, and a few times it almost spills over into romance. 
We see Emily in the hospital too, and some of her friends there, and her conversations with the doctor. I felt like some of these bits were a bit long, actually; she seemed to just always get angry with Dr Gilyard and I don't feel it was always justified. I also thought that the ending - the supposed revenge - came apart a bit too quickly. 
In tone, the book reminded me a lot of Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher, which I read before I started this blog. In that, the main character writes to a man on death row to confess something awful which happened between her and two boys, who are brothers. It has the effect of censoring the prose, which I felt happened here too. Emily is an unreliable narrator - something which she freely admits to early on in the notebook - and as such it's hard for the reader to discern the truth. It's hard to know how much happened because she wanted revenge on Juliet, and how much happened because Emily was in love with Sid. 
What age range is it for? 14+
Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No

Are any main characters people of colour? Yes, Sid is and I think Juliet is too, but I didn't entirely catch her description
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Not really, although obviously Emily is in a psychiatric ward

Is there any sex stuff? No

Are drugs mentioned or used? Prescription drugs, yes

Is there any talk of death? Yes, but it's not explicit

Are there swear words? Yes, a few

Would I recommend the book? Yes

How many stars? 7 out of 10. It isn't bad. 

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