October 09, 2011

My Beating Teenage Heart

by C. K. Kelly Martin
Random House
288 pp.
Young Adult

From an unknown perspective, Ashlyn Baptiste discovers herself watching 16-year-old Breckon Cody; it's either that or escape to a darkness where her senses don't perceive anything.  In fact, it is only through Breckon that Ashlyn pieces together her own name and memories, though what has brought her to this body-less status she has no comprehension, just as she has none regarding her role in Breckon's sphere.

Between alternating chapters of Ashlyn's and Breckon's voices, the death of Breckon's eight-year-old sister, Skylar, is revealed.  As his parents, girl friend, Jules, and friends, Ty and Big Red, wander into his consciousness, Breckon struggles to sleep, to feel, to play his appropriate roles.  Meanwhile Ashlyn is discovering her memories, some recent others deep-rooted, perceiving them in terms of Breckon and his experiences.  Without realizing it, he provides her with the basis for her memories and ultimately an appreciation of her obligation to him.

C. K. Kelly Martin's easily finds the voices of our teen protagonists, never too heavy handed.  Their responses to their circumstances are authentic, at times clear but sometimes confusing.  What teen doesn't know those personal conflicts?  Although almost 16 herself, Ashlyn plays the more naive teen to Breckon's more "experienced" persona (being sexually-active), a necessary juxtaposition to reveal how they need each other.

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