Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Plastic Hearts (Hearts #1) by Lisa De Jong

My life has always been safe. I like it that way. I grew up in a fake society where plastic hearts rule. If our hearts are made of plastic, they can never be broken. My parents have expectations and I do everything I can to meet them, even if it means giving up on my own dreams.  Now, all  I want is to be free to make my own choices.  Dane Wright is everything I have been warned to stay away from. We met one night while I was with my perfect, parent-approved boyfriend and I haven’t stopped thinking about him. I don’t want to like him. I am doing everything I can to ignore his pull, but my heart seems to want what it cannot have, what it has never had.  Can he measure up? He may think I am too good for him, but maybe he is too good for me.  Life is a series of choices and I have never been able to make my own. Until one day, when my heart decides to make a choice for me.

Release Date: February 27, 2013
Publisher:  Self Published
Pages:  220
Genre:  New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Purchase at: Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Plastic Hearts was not what I was expecting when I began reading this book.  It is a heart wrenching story of self discovery and self acceptance that went much deeper than I anticipated.  This story was awesome - from the characters to the topics covered to the relationships examined.

Every now and then, someone would tell me they wished they had my life.  I may have a nice house, expensive clothes and a generous monthly allowance, but my life was nothing to envy.

This story is about a girl with a plastic heart - Alex.  She is from a wealthy family that has many high expectations placed on her shoulders.  This is not a case of a loving family wanting the very best for their beloved daughter.  Alex is expected to dress, eat and act a specific way, and she is expected to socialize with only those deemed acceptable by her country club mother.  This includes whom she dates.  Alex has been groomed to be a physician and is attending NYU as a pre-med major.  It's no surprise that Alex hates her pre-med classes, but she lacks the strength and resolve to disobey her parents.

The story open up with Alex dating Ryan, a boy she grew up with who is on her mother's approved list of young men.  There is absolutely no spark between these two, and Alex breaks the relationship off, much to her mother's chagrin.  Around the same time, Alex meets a smoking hot, motorcycle riding, tattooed art major.  Dane Wright is everything that Alex should stay away from according to her mother.  Not only is he not from the proper social circle, but he has tattoos, is studying the wrong major and has a dark past of his own.

This man standing in front of me right now could break me into a million pieces, but if I didn't let him in I'd never feel that deep down in my stomach kind of love; I'd forever be unbreakable.

Dane is 100 % swoon worthy.  Although he previously had a love 'em and leave 'em attitude, he is completely wrapped up in Alex.  Dane has never had a girlfriend, and once you discover his past, you'll understand why.  It's complicated with this man.  He spends most of this book proving to Alex that he is worthy of her affections.  He teaches Alex how to feel and how to love.  He provides the support that she is lacking in her life.  

He was everything I didn't think I could have and somehow, he'd become everything I needed.  There was a part of me that knew I would never recover if this fell apart, but what I felt now was worth it.

However, there are stormy clouds on the horizon.  When Alex meets Dane's mom and brother, she is not prepared for their family dynamics.  We briefly meet Nolan, Dane's younger brother who has some very serious issues.  I am so very intrigued by Nolan.  He's definitely not a feel-good character, but I'm itching to discover his past and his redemption.  We also meet Dane's mom, who is everything that Alex's mother is not, and not necessarily in a good way.  There is such a clear definition drawn between Dane's and Alex's families.  You can see the drastic differences between Dane's and Alex's upbringing, but also see that these two are perfect for one another.  This is all a credit to De Jong's intense character and plot development.  

Alex has to learn to accept herself and her situation if she ever wants to have a real chance with Dane.  I enjoyed Alex's growth and decision making in this book.  She didn't always make the right choices, but she learned from the wrong ones.  Alex has a difficult road to travel, but she figures it out and I hope that she is better for it on the other side.

Change used to scare the hell out of me, but now I welcomed it because the more things that changed, the better I felt about myself.

I honestly couldn't even stomach Alex's family.  The only person that is somewhat decent is Alex's sister, Gwen, who is the golden child.  She is living her life the way her parents want her to, and marrying the man of her mother's dreams.  Gwen, though, understands Alex and gives her good sisterly advice.  Alex's mom and dad are disgusting in their treatment of Alex with no redeeming qualities.  

I love the "plastic hearts" metaphor that is examined in this novel.  It was a theme throughout and I loved how Lisa De Jong wove it in and out of the various plot lines.  Alex was raised to have a plastic heart - to feel no strong emotions, no matter the situation.  After all, she had appearances to keep up.  Some might argue that Alex is in college and should live her own life and turn her back on her parents, but this is a difficult situation. Not only will they cut her off financially, but in my experience, no matter how terrible parents are, a child will always try to please them, even if that child isn't aware of that behavior.  Alex wages an internal battle with herself in this book between her dreams and desires and her parents' control of her life.  

I learned a long time ago that most of my family and friends had plastic hearts.  Plastic hearts are made so they cannot be broken.  Cracked, maybe, but never broken.  They made decisions based on outward appearances and ignored all emotion.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the continuation of Alex's and Dane's story in Glass Hearts, due sometime this summer.  De Jong did a fantastic job of story telling that sucked me into the lives of her characters.  With the explosion of New Adult books that feature the "other character's" point of view, Dane's PoV would be pure gold if you enjoy that sort of thing (I do!).  If you are a fan of the New Adult genre, then this is one that you cannot miss.  

My plastic heart became glass the day I met Dane Wright.


Bookworm Brandee said...

Wow! Fabulous review! I can't wait to read this one! :)

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