Review: My Box-Shaped Heart by Rachael Lucas
“I don’t really know what sort of person I am,” I say. “But I think it’s time to find out.”
Holly and Ed both use their local swimming pool as a way to escape from the things that are troubling them. Holly’s mum started hoarding after breaking up with Holly’s step-dad, Neil, and their house is overwhelmed with stuff that never gets dealt with. Meanwhile Ed and his mum have only just moved to the area and he doesn’t want to share much about his past, but Holly can see that the fancy labels on his clothes don’t mean a thing anymore.
Bonding over their mutual love of swimming, Holly and Ed’s friendship quickly blossoms, and suddenly Holly doesn’t want to be invisible anymore.
The thing I liked the most about My Box-Shaped Heart was that there is hardly any exaggerated conflict in this story. Holly and Ed like each other and there’s no will-they-or-won’t-they, they just start going out. Rachael Lucas perfectly describes the excitement and nerves which accompany the beginning of every relationship, but I didn’t feel anxious or concerned while reading this book. It was a breath of fresh air.
They each have their own trials and tribulations – Holly’s mum breaks her ankle, while Ed eventually reveals that his dad was abusing his mum – but their relationship is a safe haven for them both. I can’t think of another YA book where this is the case: normally the familial problems take their toll on the relationship and that’s the main conflict which drives the plot, so it was great to read something different.
There is still conflict (there wouldn’t really be a story without it!) but it’s mundane, ordinary conflict which most readers will be able to empathise with. I’m a bit of a hoarder myself, so I could definitely relate to Holly‘s embarrassment about the state of the house and not feeling able to invite her friends over. Although this is a short book, clocking in at just over 250 pages, it deals with a lot of topics which aren’t commonly focused upon in YA which made it an even more compelling read.
The moral of My Box-Shaped Heart is that you can choose your own family, and that blood isn’t thicker than water (which made the setting of the swimming pool a clever choice!). This is a highly important message to convey to younger readers, particularly those who may have parents going through divorce or separation. They’ll be learning to come to terms with a different family structure to the one that they’ve always had, which is exactly what Holly and Ed have to cope with. Families come in all different shapes and sizes – nothing is normal or abnormal anymore!
If you’re interested in learning more about My Box-Shaped Heart, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!
If you know a teenager who is having a tough time with their family, I’d highly suggest you recommend this title to them. I think it would have made me feel a lot better if I’d been able to read it when I was younger.