Review: Beating Heart: A Ghost Story by A.M. Jenkins

Publication Date: January 3rd, 2006
Format: Paperback, 256 pages
RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars
This house
is mine
I am
its beating heart.
She is a ghost: a figure glimpsed from the corner of your eye, a momentary chill, and a memory of secret kisses and hidden passion. He is 17 years old: Evan Calhoun, warm and alive, and ever since moving to this big abandoned house, he has dreamt of her. Ghost and boy fascinate each other-until her memories and his desire collide in a moment that changes them both.
Combining verse fragments with chiseled prose, A. M. Jenkins captures the compelling voice of a long-dead ghost and the perspective of a modern teen, twining mystery and romance in this evocative, sensual, and unrelentingly engrossing novel.

A haunting tale of a restless ghost, this story captured my attention with its beautiful writing and what was seemingly an unlikely romance. My first impression of this slight book was that it would explore a love story between the living and the dead. But I was wrong. It was a love story, all right. But one that did not have a fairy tale ending.

Evan Calhoun and his family moved to a historic house after his parents just got through a divorce. What they didn’t know was that the house was alive. Its walls, its stairs, every room was a living, breathing being possessed by a girl who died in the arms of who she thought was the boy she loved. The ghost was harmless for the most part, until she saw Evan. And suddenly, the life she lived before she died came back hauntingly and with it the memories of what her fate had been. Evan is a typical teenager going through the angst of having separated parents. He’s mostly angry, mopey, and confused about his relationship with his current girlfriend. To top it all off, he started having some pretty disturbing, erotic dreams of a girl from a time past. The present and the past collide one day when the events of the past projected into the present.

This was a short read but the writing, as I mentioned was cryptically beautiful. The verse, was especially elusive; half the time, I wasn’t sure if the girl was talking about the house or if she was talking about her person. The author has a talent for giving life to inanimate objects. I also find it to be dangerously close to being an R-Rated book…but that’s debatable. Depending on how you perceive what constitutes an R-Rated or General Audiences rating, I say you’re the judge and the jury. All I can say is that those dreams, written in verse, was perhaps one of the steamiest I’ve ever read. And don’t get me wrong, the author wasn’t even very descriptive. It’s in the way she wrote it.

I’m a bit disappointed that this book didn’t really have an eventual resolution. Actually, I found it didn’t even have a point. The ghost would remain haunting the house in her harmless, creepy way and Evan would have to face the fact that he’d have to grow up and accept some of the responsibilities that his father had vacated. Other than Evan solving the puzzle of how the girl really died, I missed the whole point of the story. But you know what? It was a story that needed to be told.