After Briana's father dies of a heart attack, her mother withdraws into her bedroom and her grief. Grandpa Ben helps out, but it's 13-year-old Briana who steps in, struggling to keep things normal while dealing with her difficult little brother and her own profound sense of loss. Since her father's death, she has felt a new heart within her, speaking with Dad's voice in cryptic phrases like "say goodbye" and "find her." But Briana's not ready to say goodbye to the parent she loves best. And she's too angry with her mother to want to find her. Time brings changes: a new friend, a promise of romance, and a mother who takes charge of the family again, letting Briana be Briana. Bass excels in portraying the family members, their relationships, and how they shift when one person is no longer there. Incorporating extended flashbacks as well as brief messages from the second heart, Briana's engaging first-person narrative is perceptive and brutally truthful about her all-too-human emotions and actions. A heartfelt story of loss, grief, and healing. Grades 5-7. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews
In this tenderhearted tale, Bass (Sign of the Qin) conveys the complex, conflicting emotions that arise in a family facing the unexpected death of a parent. When Manhattan eighth grader Briana finds her father slumped over on his exercise bike, she feels a "second heart" form in her stomach. This heart communicates cryptic messages in her father's voice ("Find her, said my Dad heart") and sparks memories of life "Before Aaron," her special-needs younger brother: "Aaron and I had two parents, but really we each had one.... Dad was mine." Her mother's grief-induced slide into depression forces Briana to assume responsibility for Aaron and cope with heartache, resentment, and fear, all while navigating the treacherous social dynamics of middle school. The narrative moves seamlessly between past and present and incorporates Greek myths, Briana's "fractured fairy tales," and Grandpa Ben's tall tales, highlighting the power of storytelling to foster healing and strengthen relationships. Briana notes a parallel process between creativity and new friendship: "We were making it all up right there as we went along." It's an emotionally nuanced exploration of grief and resilience. Ages 8–12. Agent: Lucy Carson, Friedrich Agency. (Apr.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.Review by School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 5–8—Eighth grader Briana has a lot on her plate. Her friends may not have her best interests at heart, she may have a crush on her best guy friend, and her brother's emotional needs draw too much of her parents' attention. Then her other problems are put in perspective when her father dies suddenly. She feels a second heart grow inside her which speaks with her father's voice and acts as a conscience. While this device will be abstract to many young readers, they will still respond to the tender emotional arc. Bass balances the coming-of-age narrative with a grief journey that sensitively and realistically shows how friendships and family relationships change after a tragedy. VERDICT Bass depicts grief with honesty and complexity. Purchase where realism and fiction about overcoming loss are needed.—Amelia Jenkins, Juneau Public Library, AK Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.
Briana, devastated by the sudden death of her dad, imagines she has a new heart growing deep inside her belly that gives advice in her father's voice, providing her with the support she needs to navigate through her grief.Review by Publisher Summary 2
There are times we all feel we need more than one heart to get through. When Briana’s father dies, she imagines she has a new heart growing inside her. It speaks to her in her Dad’s voice. Some of its commands are mysterious. Find Her! it says. Be Your Own! How can Briana “be her own” when her grieving mother needs her to take care of her demanding little brother all the time? When all her grandpa can do is tell stories instead of being the “rock" she needs? When her not-so-normal home life leaves no time to pursue her dream of writing for the school literary magazine? When the first blush of a new romance threatens to be nipped in the bud? Forced by the loss of her favorite parent to see all that was once familiar with new eyes, Briana draws on her own imagination, originality, and tender loving heart to discover a surprising path through the storm.