Cover Image: Beating Heart Baby

Beating Heart Baby

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Member Reviews

When Santi was a preteen, he made an online friend named Memo. When he accidentally left his phone in his guardian's studio and Memo's song was leaked, Santi's friendship with Memo ends. He finds himself feeling lost and depressed. Fast forward a few years (and moves) later, Santi is now starting his second go around at his junior year in Los Angeles. His new school,, the school where his guardian and mother went, Santi becomes part of the Sunshower marching band. As Santi continues to try to put his past friendship with Memo behind him, he starts to make new friends. Santi initially has a hard time with Suwa, one of his section leaders, but that quickly fades as love begins to grow between them. Then a poorly-timed confrontation separates Suwa and Santi. The narration then shifts to Suwa's perspective as year and a half later. Suwa is trying to cope with the pain of the confession from Santi when he is offered an opportunity too great to pass up. Suwa finds himself back in LA and he finds himself trying to heal all the damage from the past in order to have a bright future. Such a fantastic and moving novel!

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First of all, this cover?!?!?! GORGEOUS. But the book itself?!?!?! EVEN BETTER SOMEHOW.

Beating Heart Baby displays realistic queer characters, a romance that will have you turning your pages until long past your bed time (speaking from experience) and a great cast of supporting characters that make the book feel /so/ well rounded. The book is very atmospheric... perhaps I would recommend for fans of Nina LaCour? Except it's not as depressing as LaCour's books tend to be, just very Vibey.

My only complaint would be that I wish Santi was more developed as a character in the first half. The first half of the book is narrated by Santi, then we get a POV switch to Yuwa for the rest of the book, but I feel like I learned more about Santi's interests from VYuwa's perspective than his own which was a bit strange. Nevertheless this book was SO addicting to read, I'm literally running to the B&N 25% of preorder sale right now to get it lol. 4.25-4.5ish stars

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DNF. Did not finish. I did not connect with the writing style/format or plot and decided not to pick this one up. Thank you publisher for the early copy!

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I thought this book was lovely! Very cute story, perfect for people who love enemies to lovers/marching band. Loved all the character arcs as well. I think the cover needs some work, though: it looks very amateur and is off-putting enough to deter potential readers.

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I got this book because the cover was pretty. I didn't have any particular expectations. What I got, instead, was my favorite realistic queer YA since Radio Silence. The characters! The music! The romance!

Every one of the main and secondary characters in this book is a gem, even when they're imperfect humans. When they make bad or short-sighted decisions, it makes sense with what's shown of their life and experiences. No one in this book is perfect (well, except for maybe the marching band director, he's a perfect cinnamon roll who wants the best for all of his teenagers), and a lot of them have various kinds of trauma, but they all try.

Particularly excellent in the book is really straightforward, unshy (although not particularly graphic) depictions of the way getting intimate can be a moment of serious vulnerability for a trans person-- and also the ways a supportive partner can handle that. There's also a scene where two young adults are intending to hook up, then mutually decide the vibe isn't right and they just hang out. I've seen more of that in YA lately, but it's always good to see more!

It didn't surprise me at all to find out Lio Min was a music journalist-- the writing about music in this book is excellent. I want to hear every song described, I want to be at every concert, I want to be on the marching band field playing a sousaphone.

Maybe my favorite book of the year so far, definitely my favorite YA. Give this one a try!!!!

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Thank you, Flatiron, for allowing me to read Beating Heart Baby early.

Beating Heart Baby is a beautiful and devastating story at times reminiscent of Felix Ever After. The love between Santi and Suwa is so palpable and so messy at the same. Lio Min's writing is gorgeous and their characterization is astounding. I read this story in one sitting and just couldn't let go of Santi and Suwa. A shoutout to the cover artist who understood the story so well and showed the heart of this story in so little detail. I can't wait to read more by Lio Min and wouldn't mind if their next project is an adult story. Their lyrical writing would be so fitting for adult literature.

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Please, put this gem about music, dreams, and first love between two boys (one trans) on your TBR!!! It’s utterly gorgeous, amazing, incredible, and mind-blowing!

I found Beating Heart Baby on Edelweiss/NetGalley and fell for the sweet and intimate cover. My request for an ARC kept pending and pending, and in the meantime, I read some raving reviews. I got restless, and I felt this want, no, this need in my body, to read this story RIGHT NOW!!! And then suddenly I got approved… I almost cried and screamed out loud.

Do you know that feeling? When you want to read on and on, and you try to read slowly because you don’t want the story to end, and at the same time, you see those pages flashing by at an agonizingly fast pace? That gnawing feeling in your chest when you put your book or e-reader down and want it with you every minute of the day? That sigh of contentment when you pick it up and start reading again?

This book! This book! This book! Goosebumps crawled over my body, and smiles tugged at my lips. My eyes watered from anger and joy, and sometimes I just stared in the distance, teardrops rolling down my cheek. My chest hurt and my heart thudded in my throat. And then the sky broke open, and warm sunshowers fell down on me, embracing me wholeheartedly. This book! This book! This book! So full of emotions. Full of emo oceans. So achingly beautiful!

Beating Heart Baby is a love song about music, about self-acceptance, about dreams, about found family, and about love itself! It’s so, so, so good! I’m sure this story will end up as one of my most favorite reads of 2022, and probably as one of my most favorite young adult books ever.

And as a sideline, I loved the structure, set up as a music album, divided into an A-side (narrated from Santi’s voice) and a B-side (narrated from Suwa’s voice), with track numbers as chapters.

So, did you quit reading my review and put this sweet, and intimate, and personal, and heartbreaking, and heartwarming, and stunningly, lyrically written story on your TBR? And did you preorder it? NO? Please, leave social media RIGHT NOW and do it!! And when you’re back on your socials and have an Instagram account, please follow @emo.ocean (Twitter @EmoOcean).

Thank you so much, Lio Min, for writing this incredible story! You’re going to be such a great author! Correction, you are a great author! And thank you, Flatiron, for trusting me to read this gem early!

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I adored Beating Heart Baby! Initially, I gravitated to it because of its title matching a song by rock/pop band Head Automatica. Sadly, no Head Automatica was to be found in this fantastic bildungsroman about a diverse group of queer kids who find a safe space in their high school marching band. I will be proposing this as a group read for the LGBTQ+ Youth Group I run at my library.

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Lio Min’s BEATING HEART BABY reminds me of why I love YA so much: because of how it instructs a reader on how a life might be lived well, because of how it gives us a fundamentally flawed but loveable hero (or in this case, heroes), and because a part of its fundamental mission is to offer comfort. Much literature nowadays couldn't give a second's consideration to comfort, as is its right. But it's nevertheless wonderful to come upon a book with characters in whom so much of onesself is reflected, and who proceed their way through a narrative that is prescribed to success by genre.

Min’s Los Angeles is mythic: inhabited by prodigies, savants, models, and camera crews, by (literal and metaphorical) bands of talented queer friends, by preternaturally devoted mentors and siblings, by agents and writers who have their subjects' best interests at heart (how I wish that were true!). Most of all, BEATING HEART BABY is a fantasy of what queer family might look like, in the best sense of that word "fantasy": perhaps shot through by death, estrangement, and loss, but populated by a devoted cast of larger-than-life characters who keep returning to one another. Sure, the book's a bit corny, but corn is part and parcel of the YA meal, and I consumed my serving with delight.

BEATING HEART BABY's two loves are anime and music, and the novel is structured like a cassette tape, each side narrated by one half of the relationship. This book is a love letter to Los Angeles, a tribute to nurturing relationships over time, a devotional to the socal asian experience that scans as true to a fellow socal asian, and I shed tears at the end of this book. I thought the rendering of Suwa's father was done particularly beautifully.

Lio Min understands how relationships work between asian people, and I want to thrust this book upon all the queer and trans asian teens, foremost to my younger self. How fortunate are we, to now live in a world where a book like BEATING HEART BABY is possible!

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This book will break your heart again and again and somewhat put it back together. It is an ode to music, to young love, to recognizing yourself in art. Honestly this book is a piece of art in itself that queer youth and adults will be able to see themselves in and relate to in many different ways. The journey that Suwa and Santi go through is reminiscent of Bryan Washington’s Memorial or Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous - in the way the author deftly handles the intersection of queer love and race and culture. Incredible story that I’d highly recommend to anyone.

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