A Sharon Creech novel, thanks to Heather Shepherd.
Creech, S. (2004). heartbeat. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Sharon Creech’s free verse novel, heartbeat, is sure to connect to preadolescents. Annie, a twelve-year-old girl, is experiencing a lot of changes in her life. For twelve years she has been the only child, but that is all about to change, as her mother will be giving birth in a few short months. She will have to share a room with her new sibling because her Grandpa has moved in with the family after her Grandmother’s death. To add more to her already changing life, her best friend and running partner, Max, is going through something and they seem to be drifting about. The reader can follow along with Annie as she learns how to handle these changes.
Creech’s heartbeat is a realistic fiction book that falls under the situational realism category. Annie is experiencing several changes in her family and personal life, changes that are likely to happen. After years of being the only child she will have a new baby brother or sister and her Grandpa, an extended family member, has moved in with her family. Annie’s relationship with her best friend, Max, is also changing, something that often happens as children become adolescents. Creech did an amazing job telling the story through free verse in a first-person point of view. The reader can feel close with Annie because her feelings and thoughts are made clear. Instead of chapters the story is divided into free verses that tell a different thought or situation, each beginning with a heading to give the reader an idea of what the verse will be about. Throughout the book onomatopoeia is used with a reoccurring sound, thump, thump, the sound of Annie’s heartbeat.
The targeted audience for heartbeat is intermediate and middle school students. At this age students go through many changes in their family, school and personal life. Reading this book, or others similar to it, will help the reader see that everyone goes through changes but it is up to the individual as to how to handle it. The organization of the story is different from many novels and students may find the free verse style refreshing and easy to read. BIG questions to ask:
- In the free verse “Lines”, Annie comes to the realization that she has much more to learn about apples. Do you think she meant apples literally or figuratively? Why?