Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down by Anne Valente

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Actual Rating: 3.75


This book is so hard to review, for so many different reasons. Firstly, I love that this book (kind of) addresses the about school shootings – something that has been plaguing America in recent years and definitely needs to be discussed more.

Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down describes the aftermath of a mass school shooting. It follows Nick, Zola, Matt, and Christina, as they all struggle to deal with the scars that they will have for the rest of their lives. But it’s not over. One by one, the homes of the classmates who had lost their lives in the shooting go up in flames, and families are broken, once again.

Matt, Nick, Zola, and Christina, all deal with these events each in their own ways, and recovering is much harder than they would have anticipated, especially when there are so many questions still left unanswered.

I thought that the characters in this were very three dimensional, and it was definitely easy to feel the grief that they were struggling to overcome. Because there were four main characters, their personalities were evident in the way they dealt with their situations. I won’t lie – there were moments where I was annoyed with how a character acted, but I had to remind myself about their situation, and once I stepped back, it was very easy to understand why they were acting the way they did.

The plot for this, when I stop and think about it, really doesn’t encompass much, because the majority of the story focused on emotions, which I think was just as powerful. I do have a little issue with the ending of the story, which is left pretty open-ended. Normally, I have no problem with endings that are left for interpretation, but I feel like the ending of this left me more confused than anything. I usually have no problem suspending my disbelief, but I think, because the story was set in such a realistic setting, the second it departed from that near the end, I became a little lost, especially when the story left my questions unanswered.

Okay, now to the main thing that boosted my high review. The writing style. It is so powerful, so touching, and it was the one thing that really kept me reading the story. This book is also divided into several sections that are not all storytelling, such as character profiles, news articles, and even images, and I think these also helped in allowing me to get into the story. The writing style was extremely consistent throughout, and it really allowed me to feel the gut-wrenching pain that the main characters were experiencing.

Overall, what I would say is this: read this book for the writing style. Definitely. But after being so emotionally invested in all the characters, I am still a little disappointed in the ending.


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