Book Review: Hearts are Like Balloons
Hearts are Like Balloons
By Candace Robinson
I was so excited to read Candace Robinson’s first piece of contemporary YA fiction! Candace runs the wonderful book blog Literary Dust, and recently released her first YA fantasy novel, Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault (I reviewed that book last month here). Since I loved Candace’s fantasy writing, and contemporary YA is my favorite genre, I was super excited to read this!
What I loved about this book is that it takes place over a long span of time. I love it when books deal with either really long or really short time periods--like over the course of one day, or ten years. Including the epilogue, Hearts are Like Balloons spans about eight or nine years of May’s life.
Hearts are Like Balloons is a really emotional story, and it deals with some VERY heavy topics. In the first half of the book, May has to deal with losing her father to cancer, and then an unexpected pregnancy shortly after. I won’t go into too much more detail, since I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but these issues become even more complicated and difficult for her to handle as the book goes on.
What I loved, though, was that May used art to get her through the tough times in her life. As a writer (who occasionally draws as a hobby), I’m also someone who takes solace in my art, so I felt that I could relate to May in that sense.
I also REALLY loved the side characters. May’s best friend, Jessie, is great. I appreciate that they stayed so close over the years, even when they were no longer living in the same town. Their interactions felt authentic, and they were believable as best friends. I also loved the character Violet--partially because she’s obsessed with purple, like me! I used to have purple hair back in the before-I-was-a-teacher days. I also admired Violet’s unwavering confidence in herself, and her devotion to her art.
The title, Hearts are Like Balloons, is fitting as well. When I first heard the title, before even seeing the cover art, all I could think about is what a pretty image that brings to mind (and the cover art certainly doesn’t disappoint). I thought the heart/balloon analogy was woven nicely into the story, with the way our feelings can inflate and deflate over time. It was a nice commentary on emotions, and how some feelings are fleeting, and some last.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book! I would NOT recommend it, though, if you’re looking for a light and funny read--this book can be very heavy at times, since the characters go through some really difficult times, in such a realistic way. However, there is some nice humor interspersed throughout, especially with the way the characters interact with each other. The way they teased each other and joked around strengthened their relationships on the page.
So, yes, do read this, but only if you’re okay with the possibility that you might cry (but don’t worry--the ending is happy)!
Hearts are Like Balloons will be available in paperback and e-book on Amazon starting June 30!