A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti. Unabridged downloadable audiobook, 9 hours. Read by Julia Whelan, Simon & Schuster Audio, September, 2018. (Review of audiobook downloaded from public library.)
Annabelle Agnelli should be enjoying her senior year of high school. Instead she's withdrawn and hobbled by guilt and grief. Over what? Do not be impatient to find out. Be with her as she attempts to cope with a triggering incident that sends her running - literally running from Seattle to Washington D.C. Appreciate her slightly dysfunction but indomitable and staunchly supportive extended family. Yearn for friends like Zach and Olivia. Witness Annabelle's courage as she peels back the scarring to face the unthinkable. Acknowledge her doubt. Weep when she is able to face her pain and finally rejoice for there is always, always hope.
The hardest reviews to write are the ones of books that I absolutely love. This one just gutted me. It is stunning, searing, brilliant, devastating and unquestionably and unfortunately, timely. The voice grabbed me from the start. I adore Annabelle. She's a gifted runner, a great sister, a somewhat snarky daughter, a girl everyone finds easy to like and wants to befriend. I hate running. Honestly, I can't run three strides without wanting to heave myself on the couch; but I do admire runners. I loved reading about Annabelle's running. I loved the brutal monotony, the rituals, the interior dialog. It almost made me want to try again but I think my bones are too heavy. Really. I am dead weight.
Caletti has assembled a memorable cast of characters around Annabelle. Even the most fleeting of background characters have impact. Annabelle has found a permanent place in my heart, because of these remarkable
I read this with my ears and, at first I didn't realize that it was read by a narrator of whom I am not a fan. Her style fit. I still don't love her male voices though. The performance was very good and I am glad to have read it that way; but there were so many bits of brilliant writing, luscious metaphors, startling imagery and glimpses of hope that I wished I were reading with my eyes so as to dog-ear the particularly evocative passages. This is definitely one for the reread pile. And that cover! Oh man, the cover is perfect!
A Heart in a Body in the World is a first-purchase for all high school and public libraries as well as anyone who serves teens. I can't recommend it enough and will be recommending it to my more mature student readers.