Hearts Unbroken

Hearts Unbroken is a powerful and thought-provoking story about what it’s like to be a Native American in high school in this country, and the strength it takes to do the right thing.
 

Synopsis:

When Louise Wolfe’s first real boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off immediately and dumps him. It’s her senior year, anyway, and she’d rather spend her time on her family and friends and working on the school newspaper.

The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, the ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time the paper’s staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director’s inclusive approach to casting “The Wizard of Oz” has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town…long-held prejudices are being laid bare and hostilities are spreading against teachers, parents, and students.

As tensions heighten at school, so does a romance between Lou and Joey—but as she’s learned, “dating while Native” can be difficult. In trying to protect her own heart, will Lou break Joey’s?” – Author’s Website
 

Review:

This is the one of the few books I’ve devoured in a single day. It was THAT good.

Although the Kansas high school setting and general dating plotline might seem standard at first glance, this story is anything but. Louise is a flawed friend trying to do her best and stand up for what is important to her. Seemingly simple tasks, but difficult to accomplish in a community that quietly undermines women, Native cultures, and positive social change.

I loved that this book touched on very important and relevant topics such as racism and biases against Native Americans, different forms of bullying, and gender related sex-shaming. There was so much valuable information worked into the story about the Native experience and history, something I’ve always been drawn to knowing more about.

This would be a powerful and thought-provoking addition to high school curriculum, or to supplement the school system and teach these topics at home.

Hearts Unbroken is the recipient of many awards, some of which include:
2020 Winner, American Indian Youth Literature Award (YA category)
2020 Spotlight on Diversity Title, New England Book Show
2018 Silver Medal, Foreword Reviews Young Adult Fiction Award
2019 ALA Amelia Bloomer List (Young Adult Fiction)
 

Book Details

Hearts Unbroken
by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 9th 2018 by Candlewick Press

Summary

Hearts Unbroken is a powerful and thought-provoking story about what it's like to be a Native American in high school in this country, and the strength it takes to do the right thing. It covers so many relevant and "hot-button" topics, as well. I devoured this one in a single day - a DEFINITE must read!

— Cassie
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