Hearts Unbroken

Hearts Unbroken

Book - 2018
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Winner of an American Indian Youth Literature Award

New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith turns to realistic fiction with the thoughtful story of a Native teen navigating the complicated, confusing waters of high school -- and first love.

When Louise Wolfe's first real boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. It's her senior year, anyway, and she'd rather spend her time with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper. The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, the ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time the paper's staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director's inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town. From the newly formed Parents Against Revisionist Theater to anonymous threats, long-held prejudices are being laid bare and hostilities are spreading against teachers, parents, and students -- especially the cast members at the center of the controversy, including Lou's little brother, who's playing the Tin Man. As tensions mount at school, so does a romance between Lou and Joey -- but as she's learned, "dating while Native" can be difficult. In trying to protect her own heart, will Lou break Joey's?
Publisher: Somerville, Massachusetts :, Candlewick Press,, ©2018.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780763681142
Branch Call Number: YA SMI
Characteristics: 286 pages ; 21 cm


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STPL_JessH Jun 17, 2020

Hearts Unbroken is a great book! There's no instalove, which helps, and the characters have sincere and deep relationships with their friends and families. When Louise makes mistakes, she reflects and genuinely tries to understand how she has hurt others even in the moments when she herself is hurting.

There are SO many important conversations in this novel, especially around what it means to use inclusive casting in theater productions. In addition, Smith adds another layer to the discussion as Hughie tries to decide whether he wants to perform in a play written by a man he knows was racist. Readers see the backlash play out as people defend L. Frank Baum and the Wizard of Oz while leaving threatening notes for actors of colour.

Smith has crafted a brave and bold novel that tells part of her own life story. In fact, in the Thank You section, she notes that she could not have written this book a few years ago because the world wasn't ready. I am so grateful that Smith did indeed write this book. I hope it finds a grateful reader in you.

#ownvoices #diversereads #itsokaytoreadya #indigenousreads

Oct 01, 2018

After breaking up with her jock boyfriend after he made insulting remarks regarding Native Americans, Lou, who is Muscogee, begins to navigate her senior year of high school with an altered social standing. She dives into her journalism class, eager to make connections and report for the school newspaper, when suddenly the school musical and its new inclusive casting direction, becomes the biggest story in town and threatens to divide the community.

Lou was great -- I loved that she moved with confidence and with what felt like an authentic teen voice, unlike a lot of waffling, simpering teen heroines frequently found elsewhere in contemporary teen literature today. The subject matter was handled sympathetically but without feeling heavy-handed. The writing was casual, occasionally to the point of feeling unpolished, but perhaps that will be fixed up prior to publication.

I received this ARC via LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program.

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