A HEART IN A BODY IN THE WORLD by Deb Caletti
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Annabelle starts running and doesn’t stop. She runs out of her hometown in Washington State and keeps running. She’s not going to stop until she reaches Washington D.C. In a panic, Annabelle’s mother sends her grandfather in an RV to bring Annabelle home. But her grandfather understands why she’s running and decides instead to come along for the ride. Soon, Annabelle’s brother and her friends got on board, starting a social media campaign to raise money and awareness. Because they were all affected by the tragedy. They understand why Annabelle wants–needs–to run. And soon the rest of the country will too.
Heartbreaking and powerful, this novel is difficult to put down. The immediacy of the third person/present tense narration complements the flashbacks Annabelle experiences. While it would have been easy to feel stuck in Annabelle’s head for most of the book, the third person narration helps with that as well, providing a bit of distance. Ultimately it is the suspense of the unknown tragedy in the past that propels the book forward to its message at the end–a speech that could have seemed didactic except that it comes so authentically from Annabelle’s voice and experiences throughout the novel. This is a book that will stick with me. Recommended to teens who enjoy realistic fiction with a TW: gun violence and abusive relationships.