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Heartbeat    by Sharon Creech order for
by Sharon Creech
Order:  USA  Can
Joanna Cotler, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio
* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Annie loves to run barefoot. She works out many of life's problems running, 'weaving through the trees, skimming over the ground, touching down, thump-thump, thump-thump, here and there, there and here, in the soft damp grass.'

Annie is twelve and her mother has just revealed that she's pregnant. Annie's grandfather lives with them, and is becoming more and more forgetful, even occasionally forgetting their names. Max, Annie's best friend and barefoot running partner, has also started to change. He decides that he wants to join the track team and wants Annie to join too. Throughout all her difficulties, she knows she can discover the answers to her problems by listening to others and looking inside herself.

Newberry Medal winner Sharon Creech has written another beautiful story in verse. At first glance, the book seems short and without much depth, but inside are treasures waiting to be mined by the reader. I feel like I know Annie and her family almost as well as members of my own family. Their struggles and triumphs became my own. Heartbeat is the type of book that speaks differently to readers of all ages. Though the suggested reading level is 8-12, older teens and adults can appreciate and learn from Annie's life.

Sharon Creech is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors for young people. She captures the typical striving for independence, and the discoveries along the way, with a vivid realism that makes readers empathize with her characters.

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