As hard as it may be to believe, 16-year-old Annabelle begins a 2,700-mile cross-country run with zero planning or foresight. She just knows that she needs to start, and she cannot stop until her heart gives her permission. Her life has imploded and running is the only thing that keeps her going. She has so much guilt, and more than that, she needs desperately to leave him, “the Taker”, behind. This is the start of our journey through A Heart in the Body in the World by Deb Caletti.
Followed by her loving Italian grandfather who whips up gourmet meals in his R.V. and supported by her mother, younger brother, and friends who just want at least a piece of Annabelle back, Annabelle’s story is gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, and perfectly attuned to the thoughts and experiences of girls and women who have been on her path before.
The mystery of what happened to Annabelle, gradually revealed throughout the novel, is hardly the only plot point that will keep you reading. Annabelle is a raw wound, exposed to the world and trying not to shatter into a thousand pieces, yet failing to see a way out of her despair. And yet. She keeps running, keeps meeting people who cheer her on from their front yards or main street drags, keeps reaching out to her family and friends who have so much love and respect for her, and even keeps connecting with other human beings, after thinking that was an impossibility for the last few months.
A Heart in a Body in the World is at the top of my recommended list for anyone who asks. You may not be a fan of realistic fiction or perhaps turn your nose up to anything that’s not fantasy or sci-fi, and usually, that’s totally ok by me. Everyone has their preferences, this Librarian included, but if there is one book that you will allow through your fortress of predilections, make it this one. It will take hold of and you will be the better for reading it.
You can put A Heart in a Body in the World on hold right now through the Deerfield Public Library catalog. If it is currently checked out, be sure to scroll down to the Read-alikes on the catalog page for more suggestions.