Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Headline (10 May 2012)
They say I’m evil.
The police. The newspapers. The girls from school who sigh on the six o’clock news and say they always knew there was something not quite right about me.
And everyone believes it. Including you.
But you don’t know. You don’t know who I used to be. Who I could have been.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever shake off my mistakes or if I’ll just carry them around with me forever like a bunch of red balloons.
Awaiting trial at Archway Young Offenders Institution, Emily Koll is going to tell her side of the story for the first time.
Heart-Shaped Bruise is a compulsive and moving novel about infamy, identity and how far a person might go to seek revenge.
Heart-Shaped Bruise is written in the form of a journal. It begins with a letter Emily has written to Juliet – the antagonist that put her where she is. The letter tells Juliet she’s not sorry, it isn’t an apology. So from the beginning, the reader feels ambivalent towards Emily’s character. However, Emily’s reaction to finding a love letter from a previous occupant throws into the mix the knowledge that she’s not unfeeling (although she is unrepentant!)
Emily journals sessions with her therapist and in the beginning she is not very compliant. As the sessions progress the flashbacks are longer and we walk alongside Emily as the picture builds of the reasons behind everything. Imagine an 18 year old who doesn’t want for anything in her life and from one incident, her identity and everything she’s believed in is blown wide apart. With her father in prison, Emily falls into a black hole until a plan forms. Even though the reader knows what she hopes to achieve, we don’t know until the very end the incident that puts her into the Institution awaiting trial. We still don’t know the outcome of that incident for sure. The intrigue of watching this unfold keeps the reader turning the pages.
I have to say I identified with Emily. Nothing is ever black or white and I love psychology – we certainly get a psychological profile for Emily … It’s quite unusual to be rooting for the perpetrator. How cleverly this story is crafted! I’m definitely TEAM EMILY!
Another thing to ponder is the media hype surrounding anything that’s thought to be newsworthy. We may not mean to but it’s so easy to make a judgement from the words of others…
The writing flows and Emily’s character carries you along the whirlwind path she chose for herself. The other characters are three-dimensional too – I fell a little in love with one of her peers myself!
A debut novel targeted at the YA/Crossover genre, I will certainly be watching for Tanya Byrne’s next novel.
I would like to thank Sam Eades at Headline, for providing a copy in exchange in for an honest review.