5 reasons readers shouldn’t pass up A Heart In A Body In The World


If you’re on the fence about reading Deb Caletti’s A Heart in a Body in the World, it’s time to take a leap of faith and do it. 

Just hearing that a book is about running cross-country may cause some readers to lose interest, particularly if those readers just aren’t into stories that primarily focus on sports or physical activity. But it would be a mistake to pass up Deb Caletti’s A Heart in a Body in the World based solely on its synopsis.

Though the novel follows 18-year-old Annabelle as she runs from Seattle to Washington D.C., A Heart in a Body in the World is about so, so much more than that.

The story’s true premise lies in what Annabelle is running from. For starters, she’d like to forget the tragic events that she was a part of last year — events for which she feels at least partially responsible.  And then there’s the date looming ahead, the one that will force her to confront everything she isn’t ready to accept.

A Heart in a Body in the World tells a beautiful and powerful tale, but there are a few more reasons to read it as well.

1. The writing is quirky and powerful.

Caletti’s writing style is the kind that will hook readers from the first page. It’s sarcastic and quirky, but it never shies away from being serious when the time comes. You’ll definitely want to keep your highlighters on hand while reading A Heart in the Body in the World. There are some truly powerful passages within its pages.

2. The cast of characters is lovable and authentic.

From Annabelle herself to the entire supporting cast of characters, Caletti does an impressive job of making each individual feel unique and distinguishable from the others. This is even more commendable given that we hardly see most of the characters. With the plot focused on Annabelle’s run, most of their moments are confined to memories and phone calls.

Despite that, Caletti still manages to make the characters’ relationships with one another feel genuine. Annabelle’s family members are neurotic but supportive, something plenty of readers will likely relate to. And even though some of Annabelle’s loved ones aren’t in the present-day narrative, readers will quickly come to care about their relationships through her descriptions of the past.

3. The story unravels in a way that keeps readers on edge.

When A Heart in a Body in the World begins, readers only know that Annabelle is running from something terrible. As her journey continues, Caletti slowly begins to reveal the larger picture. And it’s probably not the what readers imagined during chapter one.

This clever means of storytelling is a promising way to keep readers engaged. If they don’t know the full story, they’ll keep reading until they do. And trust me, after hearing Annabelle talk cryptically about her experience for a few pages, you’ll be dying to find out what actually happened.

4. It’s more political than you’d think.

While Annabelle’s undertaking begins as a means of escape, it quickly becomes about larger issues. And those issues allow Caletti to confront some of society’s shortcomings, particularly when it comes to gun violence and holding men accountable for their actions.

As the story unravels, it slowly becomes apparent that the boy Annabelle refers to as “The Taker” murdered Annabelle’s best friend and ex-boyfriend with a gun. And though Caletti doesn’t spend too long going into the politics of the situation, she is sure to mention that even shootings involving school children go ignored by the government.

And as Annabelle thinks about these things, it also becomes apparent to readers that she’s running to draw attention to the problem. She is running to the White House, after all, and the more people she tells her story to, the more her message grows: Something needs to change.

5. It offers a feminist message.

If you’re weary of the “nice guy” mentality, you’ll appreciate this novel’s message. The reason that “The Taker” shoots Annabelle’s ex-boyfriend and best friend is because Annabelle rejects him, after several months of flirting with and showing interest in him.

And Caletti has Annabelle feel guilt over her own part in the tragedy, believing she could have prevented it if she’d just been less flirtatious and inviting. The implication is clear: Women blame themselves for men’s actions, even when they shouldn’t be the ones held accountable.

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This theme pops up repeatedly throughout the book, and Caletti never fails to highlight how problematic it really is. For its feminist themes alone, readers should give A Heart in a Body in the World a chance.