Title: Red Heart Tattoo
Author: Lurlene McDaniel
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (July 24, 2012)
At 7:45 a.m. on the day before Thanksgiving break, a bomb goes off at Edison High. Nine people die instantly. Fifteen are critically injured. Twenty-two suffer less severe injuries. And one is blinded. Those who survive, struggle to cope with the loss and destruction. All must find new meaning for their lives as a result of something they may never understand.
Lurlene McDaniel's signature expertise and finesse in dealing with issues of violence, death, and physical as well as emotional trauma in the lives of teens is immediate and heartrending.
I was so excited to see Red Heart Tattoo by Lurlene McDaniel offered on NetGalley. Combining a physically and psychologically traumatizing event with a romantic storyline is like literature gold to me, if done well. Let me tell you, she did this really, really well.
First, I want to clarify that the book is by no means focused on the romance. The bombing takes full focus with the lead up and aftermath being explored from multiple viewpoints. Add in all the drama of teenage life into these characters and you've got a rich story full of everything, which includes romance.
I've never read a novel by Lurlene McDaniel before, so I wasn't sure what to expect from her craft. I was pleased with the amount of depth present in the story, particularly because there were so many characters and viewpoints to juggle. As usual, I'm drawn to the troubled teen character, so I immediately gravitated to Roth and his experiences. Lucky for me, he had a prominent role in the story.
This story is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. Obviously, seeing as the major storyline involves a school bombing, there is a lot of tragedy and loss present. The heartwarming aspects come from certain individual's reactions to the event. It would be difficult not to be touched by the way the community comes together and supports each other. Beautiful.
If I could've changed anything--and this is real nitpicky, based on personal preference--I would have wanted to get a little bit deeper into the experiences into a few of the main characters. I completely understand that this would have been difficult to do, particularly because there were multiple viewpoints presented, but it's my personal preference. For me, I'd rather get into the deep psychological and emotional experiences of one or two characters than a full look at several characters. That said, I really like the way this was done. It seems like it was important to McDaniels to present the community as a whole (by showing multiple viewpoints) rather than to keep a focus on one or two people.
Overall, Red Heart Tattoo was a super quick read and a very touching story. I'm so glad to have read it.
Final thoughts: Buy it.