HEARTS UNBROKEN, by Cynthia Leitich Smith, Candlewick Press


New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith turns to realistic fiction with the thoughtful story of a Native teen navigating the complicated, confusing waters of high school — and first love.

When Louise Wolfe’s first real boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. It’s her senior year, anyway, and she’d rather spend her time with 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. From the newly formed Parents Against Revisionist Theater to anonymous threats, long-held prejudices are being laid bare and hostilities are spreading against teachers, parents, and students — especially the cast members at the center of the controversy, including Lou’s little brother, who’s playing the Tin Man. As tensions mount 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?

Out October 2018


I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

So here we have a brilliant Native YA author’s voice.  The subject of discrimination effected toward Native Americans needs to be heard and should be heard more often and I appreciate the author taking this subject on.

I hate to call it rant info dumps, but sadly, on occasion there were a few.  With such a great premise, I think these could have been handled better.  Short chapters are great but where and how a chapter ends and where and how the next chapter is picked up should have been done differently to avoid jumpy plot pacing.

I love the strong protagonist and the huge sense of loyalty she had to her family and ethnic background. Sometimes, I wish people would get over themselves since they seem to constantly forget that there is really only one race of people living on this planet, the human race. But that’s a topic for another blog.

I think the writing was not something many would appreciate and believe this is because of the chapter structure–you can’t read a bit and put it down, then pick it up and read some more. It just doesn’t work.  Not all chapters feed off the one previous. To combat this, I read the book in a couple of hours with a hot cup of tea.

In doing this, the story worked for me.

The other issue I found that bothered me, was that there were a lot of characters constantly being introduced; in my opinion, too many.  I think this book could have used a bit more structure editing and character modifying or eliminating to allow the reader to bond more with the Protagonist and to understand her goals better. A good solid secondary character and perhaps a few extras including the Antagonist, would have been sufficient. This way, the author could have fully fleshed out their character arcs and their growth and development would have been more noticeable. The secondary characters would also have a stronger focus in helping the Protagonist and Antagonist reach their goals. In writing this way, the plot would have flowed more with a more definitive tension build and unfolding and be less jumpy/jerky.

I would love to see more indigenous writing and look forward to seeing what this author writes next.

I gave this book:




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.