(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Also by this author: Starry Eyes, The Lady Rogue
Published by Feiwel & Friends on November 3rd 2015
Genres: City & Town Life, Family, General, Lifestyles, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci's footsteps, she's ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital's Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down. Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is-and tries to uncover what he's hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix's own family's closet tear them apart?
Describe The Anatomical Shape of a Heart in 5 words.
Hope. Family. Swoons. Art. Risk. (See how I didn’t use Heart or Anatomical? OH, but how I wanted to!)
You’ve written a mix of different genres, Romance, Young Adult, Paranormal… Do you have a favorite?
No matter what I write, the backbone of the story is always about relationships, and the core of those relationships is love. The genre doesn’t matter to me. My interests have always been chaotic—one year I’m painting, the next I want to be an Egyptologist—so I basically just write whatever moves me at the moment.
Where did the idea for The Anatomical Shape of a Heart come from?
Oddly enough, it started as something much crazier. I have a lot of BIG IDEA books. My literary agent and I have a running joke between us about these projects: we call them “purple monkey” books. These are the really crazy, out-there ideas that are sometimes too weird for mass consumption. (What can I say? I’m a self-professed weirdo.) This was one of those kinds of projects. In my head, I was going to write a sci-fi time-travel romance that mostly took place in a futuristic San Francisco. But I wrote one chapter, something that ended up in the book—a quiet scene that takes place between my heroine, her brother, and mom on the patio of an art museum —and I fell in love with the chemistry of this family. It was that simple, really. I no longer wanted to write the book as some big epic sci-fi futuristic thing. I just wanted to tell a contemporary story. So I switched directions, and six weeks later, I had a first draft.
I know why I love Bex and Jack… but why do you love them and why should the readers?
Because they are both artistic outsiders who are aching and knocked-down by some of the crap that life has thrown their way. But they aren’t completely damaged. They have hope, and they’re each trying so hard in their own way to repair things. Bex’s parents have gone through a messy divorce, but what’s left of her family has stayed strong. She keeps afloat through focusing on her future. Jack’s been dealing with something in his family that’s insanely depressing, but he stays afloat by focusing on being joyful. And when the two of them find each other, they learn how to do more than just stay afloat—they swim to shore. They bring out the best in each other, which is what real love is.
Jack is…well there’s no other way to say it… he’s swoony and I loved everything about him, and can totally see why Bex can’t resist. What’s your trick to creating a swoony guy?
Hmm, I’m not sure. I just try to write guys that I would like. And what’s not to like about Jack? He’s a graffiti artist, is super charming and witty, has a retro-hip pompadour (my UK publisher says he as the best hair in YA fiction) and is into rockabilly—which will always be cool, hello!—and best of all, he’s absolutely head-over-heels in love in Bex. (And who wouldn’t be? All those awesome braids? Addams Family style? Amazing anatomical artwork? Dry wit and determination? She’s every bit as cool as he is.)
Art plays a big part in The Anatomical Shape of a Heart… How are your art skills, and what kind of research did you do to explore and learn more about their talents?
My art skills are A-MA-Z-I-N-G. *buffs nails* No, but really, I have a B.F.A (Bachelor of Fine Arts) in Painting and worked on my Master degree in Painting as well. Once upon a time, I had glorious ambitions to be a World Famous Studio Artist…before I realized how truly meaningless an art degree is in the real world when you need to pay actual bills, and stuff. Now my artwork is a creative outlet done mostly for my own entertainment (I occasionally post sketches and paintings online). As for Jack and Bex, most of the research I did for their artwork was organic and just a natural part of my own daily art curiosity. Though I spent a lot of time quizzing several San Francisco graffiti artists online, who were all gracious with their time and happy to answer my questions. Some of the cadaver and Willed Body research for Bex and her quest to draw cadavers was a little…interesting. Pro-tip: Don’t eat lunch before you dive into dissection research!
Were there any scenes that had to be cut that you wish would have stayed in?
Not a single scene was edited out. I was worried some of the handsy-ier stuff *waggles eyebrows* might get the ax, but happily, my editor was on board with this book being sex-positive for teens. Because she’s cool.
Did any of your characters surprise you by doing something you didn’t expect?
Yes, but that would be a spoiler. Can I whisper it to you? Come closer. Psshshshshshsh. Am I right? Totally shocking, huh? Yeah.
Do you have any strange writing habits?
I begin writing all my books in Japanese spiral-bound notebooks with grid paper—A5 is my favorite size. I don’t actually write books in longhand; I just make notes about the characters, scenes I’m dreaming up. Later on, I carry these notebooks around with me, room-to-room, while I’m writing the book.
When you read a real book, what do you use as a bookmark?
Folded up Post-It notes and gum wrappers.
What are you currently reading?
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t fall in love with your first book. Think of it as your first boyfriend or girlfriend: practice. Now that you sort of, kind of, maybe know what you’re doing, go write something that won’t tear your heart apart and make you realize what a huge flippin’ dork you are. (You’re not. Everyone sucks the first time, I promise.)
What’s next for you? Are you working on anything right now that you can tell us about?
I’m writing the follow-up book to The Anatomical Shape of a Heart. The hero of this book is making me swoon, like, ten times a day, so Jack might have competition soon.
Favorite Song (right now): “Artificial Nocturne” by Metric
Favorite Book (right now): I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Favorite Movie: Amélie (2001)
Favorite Word: Dream
Favorite Color: Teal
I’m going to say it right now, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart is going to be on my top ten book list at the end of the year.
From the moment I read the summary of this book I knew I was going to love it and love it I did. When I turned the last page, I wanted to read it all over again.
Jenn Bennett is a new to me author, even though she’s not by any means a new author. This is her first YA title and I’m so, so happy she’s jumped in this genre.
The story here revolves around Beatrix or Bex as we get to know her. She’s our narrator and I absolutely loved being in her head for this story. Bex is determined to win a much needed art scholarship and she’s going to do whatever she has to do to make it happen. Even if that means disobeying her mom and pushing her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program so she can draw cadavers. Yes. I said cadavers. That’s her specialty and she’s crazy talented, but she needs the extra experience to win, and she needs the scholarship because her deadbeat dad walked out on them several years ago and left her mom to care for her and her brother with no support. But this whole decision is what ultimately changes her entire summer and introduces her to the mysterious Jack.
Jack is everything you ever wanted in a book boyfriend you guys.
“And right now, my anatomy-obsessed mind was appreciating the way my new acquaintance fit together, too. He was a walking figure study in beautiful lines and lean muscle, with miles of dark lashes and cheekbones that looked strong enough to hold up his entire body.”
He’s gorgeous, he’s funny, he’s talented and he’s got a secret no one would ever guess about him. He’s one of the city’s most wanted graffiti artists. His life is definitely not perfect. He’s got some major things happening, things that he can’t exactly be up front about for reasons I can’t even tell you because I’m not a spoiler!
From the very second that these two meet, I was hooked. I wanted more of them… more of their banter and more of them falling for each other, because those were two of my most favorite things here. Bex is probably among my most favorite characters I’ve read as of late. I appreciate her voice, her wit and her humor, her quirkiness and her talent… I would want her as a best friend if she were here in real life. And Jack – no matter the hand he’s been dealt, he tries so hard to find the happiness in his life and when Bex appears, he wants to grab tight with both hands and never let her go, I absolutely loved the way he pursued her.
While outside forces may be pushing and pulling them apart, they know what they’ve become to each other and are determined to make this relationship work. And they are seriously the cutest and sweetest. But there are a lot of background forces at play here… The secret that Jack has in his life and the noose over his head in regards to being the most wanted artist in San Francisco.
“Hey Bex?” Jack said as he grated. “Just so we’re clear, if we were alone, I’d probably kiss you right now.”
I gave him a swift glance as the hallway laughter made its way back to the kitchen. “Just so we’re clear, I’d probably let you.”
You guys… the SWOON in this book – I can’t even tell you how much I loved seeing these two fall more and more for each other. If you’re looking for an amazing YA romance then this should be at the top of your list. One of my favorite parts was when Bex and Jack talk about sex and can I just tell you how much I love his eagerness to make sure she gets what she needs and they are just so adult and mature about it and what an amazing representation of two people who are in a spot in their lives where they are responsible enough to be having sex. Plus Barnett is really good at writing the really sexy stuff so if you’re like me, you’ll appreciate that.
“Just promise me one thing,” he continued. “If it’s not good, tell me. Don’t just get angry and resent me. I’d rather us not do anything and keep what we have now than screw things up between us. Okay?”
If you’re a fan of contemporary and looking for a book filled with romance and friendship and family, look no further because this has it all and more. Bennett does an amazing job of weaving a captivating story filled with wonderful characters, and a story you’ll absolutely love. Plus, it’s low on drama and that is always a bonus in my reading life!
Thank you to my lovely Kassiah for grabbing this for me at TLA!
Jenn is so wonderful she even offered up one of her last ARC’s for us to do a giveaway with! This is US only – please make sure you check out our giveaway page for the full set of rules!
a Rafflecopter giveaway