17-year-old Kate has lived her whole life in abject poverty, with an alcoholic father and drug-addicted mother, who severely abuses Kate. At school, her second-hand clothing marks her as a target. Her refusal to stand up for herself makes her the recipient of her classmates taunts and bullying. That is, until Henry returns.
Henry Jamison moved away six years earlier, just as he and Kate had begun an to develop feelings for one another. He returns to find the bright, funny, outgoing girl he had known now timidly hiding in corners, barely speaking to anyone around her, suspicious of even him.
Kate can’t figure out what game Henry is playing with her - for surely it is a game. What else would the gorgeous, popular boy from her past want with her?
Kate finally decides to trust Henry’s intentions, opening her heart to him. Just when it seems he might be genuine in his friendship, tragedy strikes, threatening everything Kate has worked so hard to gain. Can Henry help her to overcome this new devastation, or will it tear them apart forever?
Title: Heart on a Chain
Author: Cindy C. Bennett
Publisher: Self Published
My Rating: 4 out 5 stars
Cindy C. Bennett, you know how to make me cry. I'm not much of a book crier, but you've made me weep through not just one book, but TWO. You have some magic button that just unleashes my tear ducts so that I find myself sobbing while reading. And then, you add these crazy-good, awwww endings that make me smile through my tears. May we have some more, please?
I devoured Cindy's book Geek Girl and couldn't stop thinking about it. Her writing and characters draw me in and make me feel like I'm present for everything--that I'm watching my best friend live these events. I have now read BOTH of Cindy's books in one sitting each because I care so much about these characters that I can't stop without knowing the conclusion of their story.
While Geek Girl is a little lighter, a littler fluffier, Heart on a Chain tackles some serious issues: abuse and bullying. You can't read this book without it making you want to be a nicer, better person. It exposes the effects of bullying in a way that tore at my heart. It showed how a plea for help may be stifled or go unnoticed because bullying has isolated and destroyed someone to the point where there's no one she can trust to protect her from unimaginable horrors at home. A particular conversation between Kate and a tormentor at the end had me WEEPING as the tormentor realized what her bullying had done--how she had made sure Kate had no friends...and thus no one to confide her terrible secret to.
Every mean girl needs to read this book.
Bad boys, move aside. Cindy sure knows how to write the white knight. Her heroes are squeaky clean and devoted, and it's refreshing to see the anti-jerk get some page time. Cindy's boys are so...non-judgy. Henry and Kate share some sweet chemistry, and Henry's epilogue at the end had me awwwwing because it was so adorable. (Yes, Henry, ADORABLE.)
While the events may border a tiny bit on melodramatic at times, Heart on a Chain made me want to stamp out bullying and sprinkle friendship and kind words all around. I can't think of a better way to teach teenagers the effects of bullying. This is a story of abuse, redeeming love, and forgiveness that's unforgettable.