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My Beating Teenage Heart
Cover of My Beating Teenage Heart
My Beating Teenage Heart

Ashlyn Baptiste is falling. One moment she was nothing--no memories, no self--and then suddenly, she's plummeting through a sea of stars. Is she in a coma? She doesn't remember dying, and she has no memories of the life she left behind. All she knows is that she's trapped in a consciousness without a body and she's spending every moment watching a stranger.

Breckon Cody's on the edge. He's being ripped apart by grief so intense it literally hurts to breath. On the surface, Breckon is trying to hold it together for his family and his girlfriend, but underneath he's barely hanging on.

Even though she didn't know him in life, Ashlyn sees Breckon's pain, and she's determined to find a way help him. As her own distressing memories emerge from the darkness, she struggles to communicate with the boy who can't see her, but whose life is suddenly intertwined with hers. In alternating voices of the main characters, My Beating Teenage Heart paints a devastatingly vivid picture of both the heartbreak and the promise of teenage life--a life Ashlyn would do anything to recover and Breckon seems desperate to destroy--and will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen, John Green, and David Levithan.

From the Hardcover edition.

Ashlyn Baptiste is falling. One moment she was nothing--no memories, no self--and then suddenly, she's plummeting through a sea of stars. Is she in a coma? She doesn't remember dying, and she has no memories of the life she left behind. All she knows is that she's trapped in a consciousness without a body and she's spending every moment watching a stranger.

Breckon Cody's on the edge. He's being ripped apart by grief so intense it literally hurts to breath. On the surface, Breckon is trying to hold it together for his family and his girlfriend, but underneath he's barely hanging on.

Even though she didn't know him in life, Ashlyn sees Breckon's pain, and she's determined to find a way help him. As her own distressing memories emerge from the darkness, she struggles to communicate with the boy who can't see her, but whose life is suddenly intertwined with hers. In alternating voices of the main characters, My Beating Teenage Heart paints a devastatingly vivid picture of both the heartbreak and the promise of teenage life--a life Ashlyn would do anything to recover and Breckon seems desperate to destroy--and will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen, John Green, and David Levithan.

From the Hardcover edition.

Available formats-
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  • Available:
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  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.8
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    4

Recommended for you

Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    The first moment is utter darkness. The absence of thought, the absence of everything. An absence that stretches infinitely backwards and threatens to smother your sanity--if there was a you, that is. But there's not. I am nothing and no one. I never was. I must not have been because otherwise, wouldn't I remember?

    Don't look back. Don't let the darkness inside you.

    If I'm talking to myself, there must be a me. That in itself is a revelation. I exist. The second before was starkly empty and now I'm swimming with celestial stars. They're as silent as stones but they shimmer, glimmer and shine. I think . . . I think I can hear them after all but not in a way I've heard anything before.

    The sound isn't music and it's not whispers. I don't have words to describe it. If teardrops, blinding sunshine and limitless knowledge combined to make a noise, it would be the one the stars hum while I float amongst them. I don't know much, but this is something I'm certain I'm learning for the first time: the stars know things that we don't and they always have.

    And then, just as my mind begins to expand with questions

    --who am I?

    --where is this?

    --how am I . . .

    I'm falling, plummeting through the glittering darkness at a speed that would normally make your stomach drop. Instinct kicks in and makes me throw out my hands to break my fall. Only, I don't have any--no hands and no stomach either.

    The fear of falling exists in my consciousness and nowhere else. There's nothing I can do to stop my descent. Beneath me continents of light beam their brightness as I speed towards them.

    Catch me, stars. Help me.

    But they're not stars, as it turns out. They're the lights you see from a jumbo jet when you're coming in for a night landing. They make civilization appear minuscule and for some reason that makes me want to sob but I can't do that either. No hands, no stomach, no tears.

    What happens when I hit bottom?

    I'm so close now that I can spy individual cars, streetlamps, house lights left on.

    Is someone, someplace, waiting for me, leaving the light on?

    Where am I supposed to be?

    A pointed suburban roof reaches up to meet me, and if I have no body, surely there are no bones to shatter, no damage to fear, but my consciousness flinches anyway. It quakes and tries to yank whoever or whatever I am away from the solid mass shooting up underneath me.

    In the split second it takes to realize I've failed, I'm already through the ceiling. Inside, falling still. Falling . . . and then not.

    I don't crash. I don't even touch down. All I can do is stare into the pair of blinking eyes below me. They're not even a foot away. They're the distance you hold yourself from someone when you're on your way to a kiss. I don't remember my own kisses but I remember the concept the same way I remember what a roof or a jumbo jet is. I remember romance, yearning, love and hate in a way that has nothing to do with me. Maybe I've never been in love--or maybe it's happened a hundred times but so very long ago that I've forgotten each of them. I can't decide which idea is sadder.

    The eyes open and close as I stare at them. His eyes. The white boy's. They're not staring back at me, but looking clean through. If I had a body I'd estimate it was hovering just above his, toe to toe and head to head with him.

    It's night and we're cloaked in darkness, the two of us. But he's the only one who's truly here. Here. Wherever that is.

    I'd move if I could, give him the space he doesn't realize he's lacking. I feel awkward, embarrassed...

About the Author-
  • C. K. KELLY MARTIN is the critically acclaimed author of I Know It's Over, One Lonely Degree, and The Lighter Side of Life and Death. She lives in the Toronto area with her husband. You can visit her website and blog at CKKellyMartin.com.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 1, 2011
    Caught in limbo, 15-year-old Ashlyn's spirit hovers over a teenager she doesn't know. The reason she is connected to Breckon, bereft over the death of his seven-year-old sister, is a mystery at first, but Ashlyn senses that it is her mission to save him. Through alternating points of view, Martin (The Lighter Side of Life and Death) explores the woeful stories of both teenagers. Breckon, wracked with guilt, starts injuring himself and grows dependent on sleeping pills, while Ashlyn gradually recovers memories of her life, including some disturbing revelations late in the book. This novel, which may be too bleak for some readers, focuses more on Ashlyn and Breckon's regrets and yearning than on their healing; the characters' voices are distinct, but Ashlyn's feels more overdone than believable ("I miss the beat of my heart.... I miss being able to swing my hips to the pounding beat of the latest chart-topping dance hit"). The book's permeating sadness will likely be felt more sharply than both characters' redemption during the somewhat strained conclusion. Ages 14–up.

  • Kirkus

    July 15, 2011

    A teenage ghost seeks to help a grief-stricken living boy.

    While Ashlyn Baptiste is hovering in the ether wondering why she can't remember life, Breckon Cody is sulking in his room, wondering why he wants to live. As Ashlyn invisibly engages with Breckon's life, she begins to recall snippets of her adolescence: orange juice, roast-beef sandwiches, a friend's betrayal of a devastating secret. She watches as Breckon begins to abuse sleeping pills, breaks off connections with his friends and starts injuring himself in attempts to avoid the pain and guilt he feels over his sister's accidental death. With her limited influence, Ashlyn tries to save Breckon, even as she wonders why no one was able to save her. Dividing the narrative between Ashlyn and Breckon, Martin brings the same exquisite writing style to this narrative as to her previous works (One Lonely Degree, 2009, etc.). However, overwrought emotions and too-familiar paranormal themes drag down the narrative. Breckon's moping reaches cartoonish levels quickly, and the revelation of Ashlyn's mystery is soap-opera–esque rather than emotionally meaningful. Martin's mastery at depicting real-life scenarios is tainted by the otherworldly element, a needless nod to an all-consuming trend.

    Beats only with a dull pulse. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)

    (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • School Library Journal

    January 1, 2012

    Gr 9 Up-When Ashlyn wakes up, she doesn't know who or where she is. She slowly comes to realize that not only is she dead, but she is also inexplicably bound to watch over Breckon, a teen whose younger sister has suddenly died. As Ashlyn tries to make sense of her connection to Breckon-she can't leave his side, not even to visit her family-she watches him succumb to depression from guilt over his sister's death, deliberately hurting himself and abusing drugs. Told in alternating chapters by Ashlyn and Breckon, the novel contrasts his disintegration with her growing awareness of the personal strength she never recognized she had while she was alive. Similar in tone to Jenny Downham's Before I Die (Random, 2007), but with a supernatural tinge not unlike Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall (HarperTeen, 2010), this novel is a somber but ultimately optimistic depiction of the grieving process. While both of the protagonists' responses to death motivate the central plot, the mystery of Ashlyn's connection to Breckon accelerates the pace. The answer proves almost disappointingly mundane. Nonetheless the reassuring ending contains just the right amount of hope.-Amy S. Pattee, Simmons College, Boston

    Copyright 2012 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • of life. It resembles a teen version of the play Whose Life is it Anyway? by Brian Clark. The book may wake the reader up to all the unrecognized beauty life has to offer. Reviewer: Ellen Frank

    VOYA, October 2011:Life is full of mysteries and unanswered questions. This novel is an excellent bibliotherapy for anyone who has recently suffered an unexplainable loss and has to keep living. Martin has written a teen angst novel filled with all the "big questions"

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