Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review: Red Heart Tattoo

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Red Heart Tattoo
Lurlene McDaniel
Series: Standalone
Publication date: July 24th 2012
by Random House Children’s Books


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.

*A copy was provided by Random House Children’s Books for review purposes*
With an eye widening prologue that winds up your emotions, Red Heart Tattoo’s powerful beginning sets the ideal mood for the whole book. Told in five perspectives, we experience the before and after of a school bombing that leaves grief at every corner, and loss at every rubble.

With five perspectives, we get a lot of individual consequences to the school bombing. Showing us how different people cope, how they grieve and support each other. Since the book begins a few months before the incident, we get to know each one of these kids from before, when they were relatively happy and life was simple. This builds the characters greatly, getting us to care about them. With so many POVs, it’s natural to have a few that will get into your hearts more than others. Overall the cast is well balanced with characters that will make you feel their pain, their heartache, but also their love, and their strength. Morgan, our main perspective, shows us that even though dire consequences may seem like the end of the world, we should never let it break us. I adored her and admired her attitude.

Although a truly emotional book, Red Heart Tattoo potentially could have been a million times more poignant if we hadn’t skirted around some of the most powerful scenes. Instead of witnessing the consequences and emotions during a few of the big happenings, we’re simply told via memories after the fact. It’s disappointing to finish a chapter in a breakthrough, only to start the next once the climax of its reactions has come and gone, leaving us yearning for what their immediate responses and feeling were.

Regardless, the story has great, realistic developments, some predictable though never unaffecting, some that will leave you with pain, some with warmth. An overall very satisfying school bombing story that, surprisingly, has a lot of heart amongst the trauma. As far as the ending, I can’t help but feel like the epilogue leaves us hanging. We fast-forward a year, and what we learn feels jumbled and incomplete. I did not see the necessity to include it at all as it adds no real substance to the story, only wonderment. One could argue that that was the point, life is never certain. Yet, I can’t help feeling that it would have been better left alone pre-epilogue. I also have to mention the cover; I understand its significance after the fact, but it could be misleading as the romance is not on the forefront of this novel.

School crimes and violence regrettably happen way too often, Lurlene takes a disastrous event and creates an eye-opening, affecting story that, even though it encounters a bit of lost potential, it’s certainly worth the read.

3 Hot Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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29 Responses to “Review: Red Heart Tattoo”

  1. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Always a bit hard to read five different perspectives. Violence in school is always a horrible thing and yes, like you said, happens way too often. Not sure if this one is up my alley…

  2. Christina

    Woo! I actually got to read your whole review because I don’t plan on reading this one ever – not because of your review, but because I added Lurlene McDaniel to the never-reading pile in elementary school. Tearjerkers are not my style.

    This does sound way better than her other stuff I’ve heard about though!

    Why would you skip the intense scenes? That is such a weird authorial decision.

  3. Amy

    This sounds interesting. I like that you get to know the different characters in their own POV’s, but it sounds like this book could have been done better. I think that the more powerful scenes are what really help with the emotion in a book, so it seems odd that they were not really explored. Great review babe!!

  4. Nick

    That cover sure sounds really misleading. I would have expected a romance too judging only from the cover. This sounds like a really intense book. I don’t know if I could handle it or not since events like bombing/shootings make me feel very uncomfortable.
    It’s too bad that the author skimmed over the powerful and poignant scenes. It could have made the book so much better for you. :/
    Plus, the 5 POVs thing sounds too much for me to handle.
    Anyways, thanks for the lovely review, Giselle.

  5. Vivian @ Vivaciously, Vivian

    Awesome review Giselle, and my that’s a lot of perspectives O_O I really like how you noted that they were mostly well-balanced because I think I’d find that super important as well. Too bad it shied away from the direct glare of some of the biggie scenes though. Really great review!

  6. Alexa

    Lurlene McDaniel books are a bit so-so for me. If I’m in the right mood, I love them. If not, they’re just okay. This sounds really interesting though.

  7. Katie @ BlookGirl

    Hmm. You’re right about the cover; it is a bit misleading. I often enjoy reading about heavy topics in literature, but it seems like Red Heart Tattoo may fall a bit short of the mark in several ways. I’ll likely wait until I can borrow this from someone/the library before reading it.

    Great review, love muffin 🙂

  8. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    This sounds like one that would drive me crazy. I’m always wanting to get down to the nitty gritty and be told the uncomfortable details and it sounds like with this one, it gets to that point and then just stops.

    I’m so torn on multiple POV’s, on one hand I like seeing the story from more perspectives but at the same time I find it a bit harder to really connect to anyone. This ones overflowing with POV’s!

  9. Shane

    The synopsis sounds interesting but reflecting on events instead of letting the reader experience it as it takes place? I’m not sure about that either.

  10. Eileen

    Fantastic review as always! I don’t know how I feel about the fact that you don’t really get the emotions first hand and they sort of gloss through the really emotional, intese parts. That doesn’t sound like the wisest decision but I really do love emotional stories so I think I’ll have to check this out 🙂

  11. Shooting Stars Mag

    I’m always fascinated by books that deal with violence in school since it’s such a large issue that should be addressed more, especially concerning what leads to the violence. I’m not a fan of the cover either. I mean, it’s fine, but it DOES make it seem too much like a romance novel and that throws me off. Sounds like a good read.


  12. Camille Picott

    I got the chills from reading the synopsis! I’ve seen the technique you’re describing, where readers don’t actually experience the “EVENT,” but rather get it through flashbacks / memories / musings. I don’t care for this style all that much myself.

  13. Giselle

    THanks so much everyone! The 5 perspectives actually work really well in this book! I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of this author before it seems like everyone has known her forever.

    @PinkPolkaDotMichelle: I did like the book, quite a bit actually I just had a few qualms with it. But I hope you love it! 🙂

  14. Sam

    Crime and violence in schools is way too frequent, I completely agree with that. I’m glad to hear the author took that theme and presented a good story with it. I haven’t heard much about this book so it’s great to hear your thoughts. Fantastic review as always, Giselle! 🙂

  15. Candace

    I never did get into Lurlene’s books, but my sister LOVED her. I think this has a more interesting premise to me, but the fact there’s 5 perspectives and it skirts around the heavy emotions has me thinking that I probably wouldn’t LOVE it. Thanks for the review!

  16. Lauren

    Oh wow, I used to read Lurlene McDaniel’s One Last Wish books when I was maybe.. 10/11? Didn’t know she still wrote. Cool.

  17. Meg K.

    This book definitely sounds interesting! I know what you mean when you talk about books skipping around the more powerful scenes. It IS disappointing. :/

    Great review, though! I think I might check this one out, even though tearjerkers are not what I’d usually read. RED HEART TATTOO sounds like a very powerful and emotional book.

  18. Rebecca (Kindle Fever)

    Lol, omg, sorry for the first one. Totally messed it up *nods*

    I’m really glad you ended up enjoying this one, even with those flaws. I admit I’m intrigued. I’m all for eye-opening stories though and might have to put this up on the to-read pile… 🙂

  19. Suzanne @ Paranormal Book Fan

    This does sound interesting with five of the victims different perspectives. It also sounds a bit choppy though. Sorry you didn’t enjoy this one more. The cover definitely screams romance. Thanks for the honest review Giselle.

  20. Rachel

    The cover is deceptive. I thought for sure it was more of a romance. This does sound like a very moving story. I don’t like it when things are left hanging, though. Wonderful review Giselle. 🙂

  21. Michelle @ Book Briefs

    wow this seems like a really intense book. I will def have to be in the right mood to read this one. I don’t think it will be a summer read for me.

    Thanks for the great review, Giselle!