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Beating Heart Baby

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Member Reviews

~Thank you to NetGalley for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review~
An emotional rollercoaster of a romance/coming-of-age story following two queer Asian boys who struggle to find themselves amidst new friendships, old romances, new triumphs, and old hurdles. I love everything about this story - the heartache leaking from its pages, Santi's bleeding artistry, Suwa's love for words. The RADIO SILENCE of this book (*cough* online adolescent fandom-fueled friendships budding into something even realer *cough*) is simply unmatched!!!! The characters come alive between your fingertips and I yearned to learn more about each and every face we're introduced to. The anime/marigold/marching band/Y2K aesthetic/vibe of it all just made me want to climb into a hole and never come out (but in a good way). I feel like this book was made for me - that it took my life, scribbled all over it, scrunched it up and threw it back on the pavement. I just felt so nostalgic, yet so transported by this story, and I hope to G-d that this book gets the attention and praise it so truly deserves. Thank you for this story, Lio Min. It'll definitely stay a favorite of mine throughout my very own coming-of-age story.

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So here's the deal: if I were to review this book devoid of context, purely based on my reading and enjoyment as I am now, it would probably be a 3, and a wobbly one at that.

But there is context, and context makes a difference. As I read Beating Heart Baby, I read it not only as who I am now, a full-on real life adult who's comfortable in her life and sexuality, but who I was back in middle school, high school, college - a baby queer who always felt on the verge of an undefined something and wrote an impassioned essay in freshmen lit class about fan fiction as a vehicle for queer self-discovery from the perspectively of an allegedly straight ally (ha!). That me would give this book five stars.

So splitting it down the middle, I land on four. It's not the kind of book that I seek out to read nowadays, and it certainly has its fair share of foibles that hit some of my literary pet peeves.

Is the "mystery" set up at the beginning of the book painfully obvious to everyone except the POV characters? Yes. Does it have the vibe of, to quote the book itself, "a show about teenagers created by adults trying to work through their high school trauma?" Yes. Does it rely on several plot points that seem wildly improbable, at best? Oh yeah. Does it read like an admittedly well-done Wattled-era self-insert fan fiction? Also yes. But, and this is what really is the most important to me, would reading this book have made my high school self feel heard, affirmed, and uplifted by the tender centering of queer love and LGBTQ teens? Absolutely.

That's the conclusion that I ultimately came to: Beating Heart Baby is a tender but silly teen romance. It's sweet, it's awkward, it's earnest, and it's sometimes a little cringey. But it's for us. It's for all the sweet, awkward, earnest, cringey LGBTQ+ teens (especially teens of color, who are centered and uplifted in this novel). Kids who didn't see themselves in any other silly teen romances, or didn't think they were allowed to have things like that. And for that reason, for the fact that Beating Heart Baby lets LGBTQ+ teens of color be, in all their messy adolescent complexities, I would recommend this book. High school me would have loved it, and adult me is filled with joy that today's high schoolers will have an easier time getting ahold of books that showcase members of their community than people of my generation did.

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-No set up to the book, just immediately threw me in and I was so lost
-Don’t like the writing style
-Why did he meet a guy, immediately clock him, and then later awkwardly rub make up off his face. Why are you touching strangers faces
-After his first day of band camp it just speeds up and covers several weeks in just a few paragraphs which made no sense. The whole plot of this story seems to be him starting at a new school why completely skip him starting at said new school
- So many names just thrown at the reader without getting to know the people behind it. Who are any of these characters hes apparently friends with
-I feel like the author is writing this believing all readers know how high school band works. I was never in band, what is going on
-I hate when books try to convey texting with lingo and typos
DNF 10%
I’m honestly so confused at all the reviews raving it, did we read the same book

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Two boys living in the heart of Los Angeles, drawn to each other for their shared love of anime, band, music, and most importantly each other as they deal with the hidden secrets of their past and worry for the unknown future. The story is split into two points of view: starting with Santi - a gay teen living with a single guardian after the death of his mother trying to adjust to his new life in southern California - before switching to Suwa - a gay trans boy battling with his estranged father, his passion for music, and a major secret of his own.

This book was incredibly well-done and stood out from the other novels I have read this year. Not only does it focus on teens with a distinct taste of interests (anime and marching band - something that has more or less been considered " nerdy"), but they do so shamelessly. The story also touches on the importance of online friendships, which is a major part of the set-up for the novel. I also adored how each of the two main characters had their own found family when their respected biological family didn't accept them for themselves nor their passions, or tragedy took them apart. Additionally, the characters felt much more realistic with the appropriate dialogue and speech for their age, as all too often YA novels have a knack for "assuming" rather than hitting accuracy on how teens verbally interact with each other.

I only had two major drawbacks from the book (minus the fact I read it faster than I should of). To begin, it was obvious who Suwa's "hidden identity" was. Granted, it was officially revealed not too far into the book, but there were times when I would be reading through wondering how the dots weren't connecting for Santi. Secondly, at the beginning of the book, Suwa was introduced as this cold-hearted and rough kid who projected his insecurities into harmful words onto others, which he did so to Santi when he first arrived at his new high school. However, before I knew it the two of them suddenly hit it off and became good friends, possibly turning into something more. I do understand that Suwa's bullying was cut short due to Santi's kindness towards him despite his hurt, but there could've been a little more transition time between these two points.

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Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

I am not the target audience for Beating Heart Baby. While I do regularly read and enjoy YA this is one I just couldn't connect with. At times the jumping between timelines was a bit too confusing for me. I didn't like or connect with the main characters even a little bit. I've barely finished this book and I'm already forgetting what happened.

With that said this book has so much to offer readers and I do think people are going to enjoy it. Our main characters deal with some emotional and tough topics that force them to make difficult decisions. While the choices they make aren't always ideal, they are realistic and I think that really helps the genuine feel of the story.

Read this book if you want

> LGBTQ+ characters
> Music rep
> Hard decisions with hard consequences
> Found family

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This is a not for me kind of book but like any good reviewer/school librarian I know the kind of reader I'd recommend it to and the ways in which the book sitting on the shelf will help others be seen and connect. It's a softer, quieter story with a mood that feels like Benjamin Alire Sáenz with themes of friends to lovers connection after shared connection through pain.

I didn't like the presentation which is where it went wrong for me, but the human side of the connection can absolutely be felt through the pages.

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“The worst thing about music is that other people get to hear it.”

Sometimes, a book to review pops up on my kindle that I’ve never heard a single peep about—and in very rare cases, that book turns out to be an all-time favourite. Readers, Beating Heart Baby is one of those books. In this debut, we follow artistic and sensitive Santi, who arrives at a new high school where everyone in the wildly talented (and lowkey famous) marching band welcomes him with open arms—except for one prickly musical prodigy called Suwa, who doesn’t think Santi has what it takes to be part of the band. But what neither Santi nor Suwa know is that they share painful pasts that they’ve both tried to forget for years. As they slowly open up to each other, a tentative yet fiercely loyal friendship begins. When one of them realises just how connected they really are, can Santi and Suwa find a way through the pain and let go of old anger and resentment to create a future together?

There’s something so…alluring about Beating Heart Baby. I want to attribute it to the engaging writing or the compelling protagonist Santi, but really there’s a magic to this book I just can’t put into words. While it’s hard to talk about the plot without spoiling a few big revelations, I do want to point out what makes this book so addictive to read.

This story explores heavy topics such as past trauma and generational abuse—but it also highlights the importance of found family and the utter magic of the right person saying the right thing to you at the exact right moment, or offering a shoulder to cry on just when you need it but don’t know how to ask for it. It’s a heartbreaking read because characters in this story aren’t flawless—everyone makes mistakes. From saying the wrong things to acting out of anger or fear or even shutting others out because of truths you can’t really accept yet, all of the characters are imperfect but what makes this such a wholesome story is that they all grow as time passes. They learn from their mistakes, they intend to do better and then they try again. There’s much to be said for perseverance and inner strength and finding a way to love yourself when you’re scared others won’t and all these emotions are wrapped into Beating Heart Baby.

What I think is another highlight in Santi and Suwa’s romance is the sheer vulnerability that is displayed. Santi and Suwa have a lot of baggage to work through but they do it in this honest manner that just makes you clutch your chest because you can feel their pain and want them to be happy, no matter what. Their tentative friendship as they open up to each other after a rocky start is like watching a flower blossom—whenever they do something that benefits the other, the flower grows, whenever they lash out or hide away, the flower wilts. They’re put in incredibly tough situations but somehow, they emerge victorious, if somewhat disillusioned as they learn that dreams are sometimes not as achievable as they seem. It’s this disillusionment paired with the ambition to still make a name for yourself in whatever way you can which makes Suwa and Santi so perfect for each other.

Beating Heart Baby is also driven by music. From Santi becoming a part of the marching band at his new school to the song his best friend Memo sends him that causes Santi to lose his best friend’s trust, music can both heal and hurt in this story. Min somehow puts into words how music can build long-lasting connections between people but also somehow perfectly explains the utter devastation of a song that means the world to you not being heard the same way by others. Music can be this all-encompassing experience and even when hundreds of thousands of people scream the same lyrics, they might relate to them for hundreds of thousands of different reasons—somehow, Min made this book feel the same way. You might not have your heart ripped out and somehow glued together by this book for the same reason than the next reader—but trust that it will happen, regardless.

All in all, there is so much to love about this—the tender depiction of second chances, the way gender and sexuality discussions are handled, the inclusive cast of secondary characters who have so much personality, the geeking out over favourite animes and the love letter to internet friendships and how they can save you from yourself sometimes are all elements that are sure to keep you flipping the pages, holding your breath to see where Santi and Suwa will end up.

If you like angst, pining, anime, music and found family, Beating Heart Baby is the book that will make you cheer, weep, laugh and pine for your own internet friendship transforming into a happily ever after this summer!

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A warm story of first love and a group of queer teens finding their home in a high school marching band. Beating Heart Baby follows two boys, Santi and Suwa, from finding each other online to colliding at high school as they navigate through friendships, love and staying true to oneself. I really liked that the book was divided into two sides—one with Santi's POV and his struggles with truly connecting with people around him and the other with Suwa's POV and his journey as a trans boy making music. The LGBTQ+ community that forms their friends was so heartwarming to read about. All of that combined with references to anime and indie music and how the main characters incorporated aspects from them in their own lives made this book so much more heart felt.

My complaint with the book would be that the switch in POVs and a time jump right after the confrontations threw me off a bit. I actually wanted to continue reading about their high school experience (not that I mind the musical career bits). The writing felt somewhat stagnant at times too but I truly think the characters drive the story forward really well.

This book realistically queer YA that is equally messy and emotional. It's about music, chasing your dreams, found family, sustaining love and embracing yourself. I'd definitely recommend it if you're looking to read about anything along those lines!

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I loved this book so much. First of all, the cover is BEAUTIFUL. Secondly, the writing style is really enjoyable and easy to read. Although it had a bit of a slow start, and was a bit predictable at some points (I pretty much guessed all the details and history of Suwa and Santi’s relationship from the get go), the story and characters really kept me engaged the entire time. I also love that the book had amazing representation. I can definitely imagine this being a YA bestseller and a book lots of young teenagers see themselves in.

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Thank you to the publisher for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

OH my fucking god. I haven't had a book destroy me like this since Man O'War!! Y'all this book was everything. The angst, the baby gays, the pining. I LOVED ALL OF IT. Honestly, I am just a puddle of screams/cries because that is what this book has done to me. Seriously, you are going to want to read this.

Longer RTC when I feel more coherent. But this book hurt me and I am NOT okay!

Biracial Filipino adopted pansexual cis male MC, Korean-Japanese achillean trans male MC, Black lesbian cis female side character, queer nonbinary side character, queer and BIPOC side characters.

CWs: Abandonment, child abuse, emotional abuse, transphobia/transmisia, panic attacks, mental illness (PTSD, anxiety). Moderate: past death of parent(s), grief, body shaming, bullying, drug use, smoking, homophobia/homomisia, pressure to come out as trans, racism, past mentions of suicidal thoughts, violence.

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This was such a lovely story! A love a heart warming tale about first love! It was an utterly gorgeous read!

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Beating Heart Baby is a beautiful, careful depiction of two boys finding each other by accident and staying by choice. What made this novel so impactful for me is the sheer love suffused throughout. Not just romantic love- this story also portrays complicated familial love, found families, the love found in a group of queer friends, and even the unique connection of friends made on the Internet. Both of the main characters, Santi and Suwa, are deeply influenced by their love of music and anime, and this is what brings them together in the first place. Both are multidimensional characters with various interests and goals. They felt very real, and the writing style easily pulled me into their points of view.

The characters face realistic struggles, including portrayals of homophobia, transphobia, racism, and the ways these issues intersect. At the beginning of the novel, many characters are introduced at once and I struggled to keep them straight, but the side characters are characterized well and this problem quickly resolved itself. Los Angeles is depicted fantastically and almost feels like it's own character, just as dynamic and ever-changing as the characters themselves.

I found so much of myself and my own high school/early adult experience reflected in this story in a way I never could have imagined when I was the same age as Santi and Suwa. There is clearly so much love that went into this book, and it shines through in both the characters and narrative. I would highly recommend this for library shelves, particularly if you have older teen patrons looking for a story that follows characters beyond high school.

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I was so glad to get an ARC for BEAting Heart Baby as it was at the top of my wishlist for this summer! a big thank you to FLATIRON for the copy!

The story follows Santi and Suwa through their first prickly encounter, to their growing freindship and maybe a little more? Told in dual POV we get to see each boys perspective and it is filled with joy, angst, music and all the drama you'd come to expect from a YA book. Fast, fun read perfect for a day at the beach

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This may be one if the best books I read. Unlike the other ones I've loved, this took me a month to finish because as much as I wanted to devour it, I needed it to be the right time, to savor it because whenever I picked it up I fell in love again. It's emotional, deep, it will make you angry but it will also make you fall in love with the characters and the story and it's gorgeous.

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had a very strong feeling that this book was going to make me feel ALL the feelings. My instinct was not wrong. This book releases at the end of July, and I highly recommend putting this on your TBR now, especially if you teach high schoolers or are a high school/college student.

Why? Because, not only does this story gives us a glimpse of what it feels like to be inside these characters' heads, but also how important those around them are to their happiness, comfort, and general mental well-being.

This novel features a wide-array of characters from the LGBTQ+ community, including a trans main character. (Thank you, Lio Min, I love seeing this representation in literature!)

This story focuses primarily on Santi & Suwa. Santi's perspective is the first half of the novel, with the second half in Suwa's voice. At first, when the perspective shifted, I was a little unsteady moving into Suwa's portion, because I was a little made at him. Which, after reading his section of the book, made me feel a little guilty about that anger, but ultimately, I understood him a little more once I was actually inside his head.

I love Santi. First off, the boy can cook, and second he embraces his flaws—he knows he is imperfect and yet that understanding made him not only relatable but made me want to fall into the story and spend the day him. A lot of artists are like that I think, knowing their flaws and yet still making beautiful things. *sigh*

What I love about this story is that each character we meet all have a very distinct voice. Even the secondary characters! While some of the characters we only see for a few snippets of time, they are essential to the overarching story of Santi & Suwa. Plus, BONUS these characters are also of Asian decent (which was awesome for API Month)!

It was about friendship and love and romance. About finding yourself and letting that self shine through. This novel was about community, and how much of a difference it makes having a supportive one around you. My heart broke and mended, shattered and mended, over and over again while I read this. Santi and Suwa are such dynamic characters and being along on their journey together was beautiful.

There are lessons to be learned within these pages. There is so much unconditional love in this story, it appears to outweigh the broken love; and yet, for some reason we are reminded that the broken love seems to weigh much more on our souls. We carry that love differently, but also that community makes those burdens much easier to bear.

This book checks off so many boxes and again, I highly recommend this book. As a side note from someone who is not part of the LGBTQ+ community (aside from just being a supporter), I think this gave me a better look at what the struggles are for those transitioning. It is so hard to truly understand what someone is going through without being that person, but this glimpse inside was eye opening.

For those of you who are still becoming yourself, know that you are loved. You are valued for who you are—and that there are supporters out there for you as you journey to become the best version of yourself. Sometimes happy-endings come with time and tears—but sunflowers need time to bloom and water to grow— #SunShowersForever.

P.S. GO PRE-ORDER THIS BOOK NOW.

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I was more than excited to receive an early copy of this book; it was quite truly my most anticipated book for the summer and it completely lived up to my expectations. Beating Heart Baby was such a well-written, incredible book that really let the author's voice and influence shine through. It was well-rounded: its characters were developed and realistic, its storyline was entertaining and creative, and almost every page left me with a stronger need to keep reading.

I loved how the book depicted Suwa and Santi's early friendship; more specifically, an online friendship between two queer individuals. Because queer people are often outcast or feel like they can't relate to people around them, many seek friendships online. Many can relate to finding their best friend online, despite physical barriers and not knowing eachother's true names or faces. Of course, these online friendships can be as messy as they are perfect, and the author depicted this and its lasting effects on both Santi and Suwa very well. I was left with second-hand heartbreak for Santi, as he mourned the loss of Memo and was left distraught and frustrated.

I very much appreciated Lio Min's use of figurative language and metaphors throughout the book. I know this sounds like a middle schooler writing a review for English class, but I have to say it. I adore good use of figurative language and Min's astonishing and masterful manipulation of the English language impressed me time and time again while reading Beating Heart Baby.

Furthermore, I wanted to mention two things related to Suwa's identity and journey throughout the book. There are many aspects that I could discuss, but I was particularly impressed by these two. I appreciated how the book addressed the subject of coming out, and how it should be your choice only, not influenced by others. I also liked how Suwa's journey was shown, and how he used Mugen Glider to relate his identity because it is so reflective of how queer people consume media in real life. Taking media they adore and relating it to the queer experience, even when the media itself is not stated to be queer.

Finally, I adored the novel's depiction of complicated familial relationships. Suwa's relationship with his father throughout the book made me so emotional and was truly a realistic and heart-touching show of how complicated family truly is.

Emotional (Emo-ocean-al?). That is how I would describe Beating Heart Baby. It is a book that had me up late at night, staring into my screen and fighting throught the waves of emotions rushing through my head. Joy. Despair. Frustration. Helplessness, Pride. Happiness. And so many more feelings that I can't even begin to describe. Beating Heart Baby is masterfully-written novel that will truly make the reader feel for the characters and story. It leaves a lasting impression on you and makes you wish you could read it another ten times over again. From the first page to even the Author's Notes, I could not find a part of Beating Heart Baby that I didn't enjoy. If you have not already pre-ordered Beating Heart Baby, I would absolutely suggest doing so. This book will wreck you in the best possible way and is a must-read for this summer. Releasing July 26, Beating Heart Baby is a necessary addition to everyone's TBR.

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Many thanks for the ARC, which was provided by Flatiron in exchange for an honest review.

This is really a lovely book. This book, it seems to me, is clearly a book of the author's heart. Beating Heart Baby is a love letter to indie music, anime, and the city of Los Angeles, wrapped in a poignant exploration of family, first love, and identity.

Beating Heart Baby is told by two first person protagonists, Santi and Suwa, who connect on the internet as adolescents, have a falling out when Santi inadvertently leaks a song that Suwa has shared with Santi, and, unbeknownst to each other, reconnect several years later in their final years of high school, when Santi moves to LA with his guardian.

This setup, that the pair are in fact long lost internet friends, that is revealed to the reader in the blurb, and we spend much of the first half waiting for the other shoe to drop, wondering what the fallout will be when they finally figure out that their connection goes back further than either of them had ever imagined. Suwa and Santi had bonded with each other at times in their lives when they were both particularly vulnerable and lonely, and had been, for a time, an important lifeline for each other. The falling out hurt both of them deeply, and when they finally reconnect, they both in a better place, but neither of them have fully dealt with their pasts. The tension builds in the first half to a reckoning in the second half as we deal with the fallout of the long awaited reveal and switch from Santi's POV to Suwa's.

This reckoning means not only grappling with their relationship and what it means to both of them, but also with their own personal struggles with family and identity. In the years since their online friendship, Suwa has transitioned, a process that was complicated by the abusive reaction from his family. Suwa's identity as a young trans man is handled carefully and thoughtfully, and Min shows a tremendous amount of compassion for their young protagonist. Suwa is not always likeable, but he is always sympathetic, and it is clear that even at his worst, he is young man with a deep well of love in his heart for the people who have stood by him. He is passionate about music and alternately driven by ambition and terrified of realizing his dreams.

Min's sensitive approach to Suwa's gender gives the reader the sense that there are certain things that readers, as outsiders, are not owed when it comes to trans identities and bodies. For example, when a character who knew Suwa pre-transition calls out Suwa's deadname, the word is redacted in the text with a black box, as if the first person narration of Santi knows that this knowledge is not his to share with the reader. This is echoed in the fade to black sex scenes, which, while not atypical for a YA novel, also seem to grant Suwa a measure of privacy when told from Santi's point of view. Suwa is slightly more forthcoming in his own narrative, but only slightly, mentioning what an act of trust it is to take off his binder for Santi, for instance, but stopping short of describing any body parts or acts. Suwa is here to tell his story, but the reader must respect certain boundaries. Following along with this idea there also a bit of a meta narrative about how Suwa is pressured by the industry to come out in order to make him more interesting and marketable, which at odds with Suwa's own ambivalence about coming out. When Suwa releases his first EP and many fans find hints and subtext about his gender, Suwa is, while sympathetic to young fans who want to see themselves reflected in him, still slightly uncomfortable with the album he wrote as a breakup album becoming an album about being trans.

In many ways Suwa's conflict reflects current conversations around rainbow capitalism. Min asks us to consider #ownvoices as a marketing tool, the pressure on young artists to out themselves in order to claim authenticity, and the mixed feelings of many marginalized creators who recognize the importance of representation but who also just want to create without always having to center gender/sexuality/race. As Suwa argues, can't a trans man just write a breakup album? His mentor (who is a Black lesbian superstar), counters by asking him, did transness not factor into your relationship and breakup at all? Can you really separate the two? Beating Heart Baby doesn't settle this question, but asks it, and asks the reader to reflect upon it just as Suwa does. As for Suwa coming out as trans, Min allows Suwa to realize that he should come out when he feels ready and on his own terms, and not due to any outside pressure nor even to sense of obligation to the lgbtq community.

The other protagonist, Santi, struggles with finding his purpose and making true connections, having moved around a lot through childhood following the death of his mother in a car accident. When he moves to LA and falls in with Suwa and his group of friends, he feels like he has finally found everything he has ever wanted. The only problem is that his new friend group will soon graduate and disperse, and Santi despairs that he has found friendship and love only to lose it all too soon. I think many of those reading this book will relate to the feeling of latching onto another person and finding purpose in that relationship, and ultimately realizing that's not actually great for you or for the relationship.

Both main characters are Asian-American, with Suwa having a Korean father and a Japanese mother, and Santi being half Filipino. The book is full of references to favorite foods, to the Koreatown neighborhood of LA where Suwa grew up, and even to the historical conflict between Japan and Korea that made Suwa's grandparents disapprove of his parents' marriage. This detail struck me in particular because it's not something that someone without first hand experience with these cultures would have thought to include, but having had a similar experience myself, it rings extremely true. The way Suwa's family reacts to his transition is also rooted in his parents' cultures, and it is refreshing to see trans representation viewed through an Asian lens rather than a white one.

There is a large cast of side characters who all help to bring the world to life. I think the adult characters are actually the fullest-- Santi's guardian, Aya, the marching band director, Cap, and the haunted and tragic figure that is Suwa's father. The relationship between Suwa and his father is particularly compelling, simultaneously heartbreaking, complex, and infinitely nuanced. Min's sensitive treatment of that relationship avoids strict either or moralizing of a child's decision to keep or not keep contact with a parent who has been abusive in the past. Suwa's relationship with his father is still, by the end of the book, largely unresolved, and there is neither a triumphant cutting of contact nor a joyful reconciliation. Whatever hope there is for a parent child relationship between the two of the is at best tenuous and tentative,

The prose of Beating Heart Baby is accessible and at times quite beautiful, and the the first person voices of the two protagonists are distinct. Santiago is a bit awkward and a bit impulsive, which leads to a lot of uncertain self-talk, which is endearing without being irritating, whereas Suwa is more introspective and poetic, Suwa narrates the second half of the book, and when we finally entered his head, I was surprised by the degree of self awareness he has regarding his actions, even thought here are hints of this in Santi's half of the book..

Beating Heart Baby is peppered with references to anime and indie rock that feel timeless and genuine (even when they are made up) rather than self conscious or name-droppy. Perhaps the cleverest reference combines both anime and indie rock in the form of the made-up anime, Mugen Glider, the "fandom" which brings the protagonists together in the first place. Mugen Glider in fact a song by the Japanese rock band Asian Kung Fu Generation, and when the characters quote the "anime" Mugen Glider, they are in fact quoting lyrics from the Japanese-American singer-songwriter, Mitski. These sorts of references are a subtle homage to the source material, rather than an obvious wink-and-nudge.

Overall, Beating Heart Baby is an excellent YA novel debut from an author who is already a seasoned music journalist, and I hope we see more from Min in the future. It is sensitive, smart, poignant and timely. Regardless of our the ways our identities may or may not intersect with those of the protagonists, anyone who has ever been a sad teenager who found an outlet in music, or a lonely teenager who fell in love too hard and too fast, will find something resonant in Beating Heart Baby.

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5 Stars/Beating Hearts 💖💞💗💕💓- Beating Heart Baby by Lio Min was such a fantastic read, I could barely (just once) put it down! It made me laugh, made me cry, made me want to throw it across the room only to immediately go and pick it back up and apologize! 😭

I just can't put into words how much this book amazed me and made me completely lose myself in the story. I found myself reliving some of my own life experiences through Suwa and Santi, along with getting to see so many more queer experiences that I could never have imagined myself.

The story is so incredible, I swear that everyone needs to go out and read this book the moment it is available! (July 26)

Thank you to #flatironbooks for providing me with an advance reading copy through #netgalley. All opinions are my own.

#yafiction #bookstagram #liomin #emoocean #beatingheartbaby

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I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Hold on a sec while I put on some Head Automatica... *BABY IS THIS LOVE FOR REAL?! LET ME IN YOUR ARMS TO FEEL / THE BEATING OF YOUR HEART BABY*

I really enjoyed this book. It was so delightful, and such a great YA story. The development of the characters was really great, and the structure of the book being split into A and B sides was great. It tackled so many big things, but none of them felt watered down as sometimes happens. I loved both Santi and Suwa so much. There was so much representation but it didn't feel super forced.

I struggle with music-based books many times because reading what the music is supposed to sound like just often does not pan out. For the most part, I thought this book handled it well, but I did find myself glazing over a couple of Suwa's songs.

It was pretty easy to guess what was going to happen right from the start, but I don't think that necessarily detracted from the story. Definitely give this one a read!

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This was a great look at two complicated, flawed and lovable characters, and I was rooting for them throughout. I really love childhood friends to lovers, and this was a doozy. The first half of the book was my favorite, I was really invested and loved Santi's POV. The switch halfway through to Suwa's POV, along with a time jump, lost a bit of the momentum for me. Possibly because I was more interested in the high school band aspects of the story than the music stardom elements, and because it was hard not to feel really angry at Suwa at that point in the story. There was also a lot of build up in the first half that made the sudden time jump feel like something of a let down. And there were definitely times I wanted to march Suwa into therapy because he was his own worst enemy and really unfair to Santi. But I loved how real the characters and their relationship felt. I do wish the book had spent a bit less time inside the characters' heads with them apart and shown more of their interactions and time spent together. The writing was engaging, though not always my cup of tea. And the side characters were wonderful.

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