- The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-316-31459-6 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-316-31463-3 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 8–12
When seventeen-year-old Dee loses her scholarship to her prestigious boarding school, she’s so desperate to avoid going home to her alcoholic parents that she makes a deal with a demon, giving up her heart for two years in return for tuition money. The catch—besides the whole not having a heart thing—is that she is required to, with three other heartless teens, destroy what seem to be wormholes or “voids” in the space-time continuum. Bargaining with demons and charging into unknown spaces have a way of bringing people together, and Dee quickly finds herself attached to fellow bargain-maker James, even though she’s beginning to wonder if she’ll get out of this deal alive, let alone with her heart. There’s an interesting mix of sci-fi, fantasy, and supernatural all swimming around here, with an emphasis on the idea that demons, wormholes, and magic might simply be aspects of sciences humans have yet to understand. For all its fantastical elements, though, the story is grounded in realism, focusing especially on Dee’s paralyzing anxiety and deep-seated trust issues as a result of a lifetime in an abusive household. Her relationship with James skates near saccharine but her practicality gives it balance, and the tentative shaping of her confidence, both as a romantic partner and a world-saver, rings with authenticity. Readers’ hearts will lurch at the unexpected ending, but they’ll be glad to have known Dee and James, despite the bittersweet payoff.