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My Box-Shaped Heart

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A powerful YA novel about an unlikely friendship between two struggling teens—and how they come together to help one another. Holly's mom is a hoarder, and Holly is fed up with being picked on at school for being weird . . . and having the wrong clothes . . . and sticking out. All she wants is to fit in. She loves swimming, because in the water everyone is the same. Ed goes A powerful YA novel about an unlikely friendship between two struggling teens—and how they come together to help one another. Holly's mom is a hoarder, and Holly is fed up with being picked on at school for being weird . . . and having the wrong clothes . . . and sticking out. All she wants is to fit in. She loves swimming, because in the water everyone is the same. Ed goes to the swimming pool because everything else in his life has changed. In his old life, he had money, was on the swim team, knew who he was and what he wanted. In his old life, his dad hit his mom. Holly is swimming in one direction and Ed's swimming in the other. As their worlds collide they find a window into each other's lives—and learn how to meet in the middle.


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A powerful YA novel about an unlikely friendship between two struggling teens—and how they come together to help one another. Holly's mom is a hoarder, and Holly is fed up with being picked on at school for being weird . . . and having the wrong clothes . . . and sticking out. All she wants is to fit in. She loves swimming, because in the water everyone is the same. Ed goes A powerful YA novel about an unlikely friendship between two struggling teens—and how they come together to help one another. Holly's mom is a hoarder, and Holly is fed up with being picked on at school for being weird . . . and having the wrong clothes . . . and sticking out. All she wants is to fit in. She loves swimming, because in the water everyone is the same. Ed goes to the swimming pool because everything else in his life has changed. In his old life, he had money, was on the swim team, knew who he was and what he wanted. In his old life, his dad hit his mom. Holly is swimming in one direction and Ed's swimming in the other. As their worlds collide they find a window into each other's lives—and learn how to meet in the middle.

30 review for My Box-Shaped Heart

  1. 5 out of 5

    Simone Liedtke

    My Box-Shaped Heart is a powerful story of an unlikely friendship from Rachael Lucas, author of The State of Grace. Published By: Pan Macmillan   Following a powerful story that has elements of true, relatable circumstances for most people, 'My Box-Shaped Heart' follows the unlikely meeting of Holly and Ed, both who feel like outsiders.    Holly, who's Mom is a hoarder, and Ed, who comes from a difficult background (#SpoilerAlert) both end up meeting at the one place they have in common: The swimmin My Box-Shaped Heart is a powerful story of an unlikely friendship from Rachael Lucas, author of The State of Grace. Published By: Pan Macmillan   Following a powerful story that has elements of true, relatable circumstances for most people, 'My Box-Shaped Heart' follows the unlikely meeting of Holly and Ed, both who feel like outsiders.    Holly, who's Mom is a hoarder, and Ed, who comes from a difficult background (#SpoilerAlert) both end up meeting at the one place they have in common: The swimming pool.   Yes, it has a (#SpoilerAlert) happy, feel-good ending. But my, oh my... I had to just take a deep breath and pause in between chapters. While it was an easy read, I felt so close to these characters in a lot of ways. Some of the things that left Holly questioning herself, some of the things that made Ed doubt himself... I've felt these too, and I'm sure that you have too.   And the insecurities and difficulties they face? Yes, well... You and I have probably experienced them too, at one point in our lives.   Author Rachel Lucas has found a topic that not many dare venture into, proving, once again, that you simply CANNOT judge a book by its cover.   I won't be going in to details, but 'My Box-Shaped Heart' is a reminder, in its purest form, that regardless of what you may be going through, what you may be experiencing; You are NOT alone and there are always people out there who are willing to listen, to help.   Staying true to the theme of 'true love', the story of Holly and Ed proves that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, regardless of how dark the nights may seem.   Based on it's relatability, and topic of choice, I'd give 'My Box-Shaped Heart' a 4 out of 5 rating.   Book Synopsis:  Holly’s mum is a hoarder, and she is fed up with being picked on at school for being weird . . . and having the wrong clothes . . . and sticking out. All she wants is to be invisible. She loves swimming, because in the water everyone is the same.   Ed goes to the swimming pool because everything else in his life has changed. In his old life he had money; was on the swim team; knew who he was and what he wanted. In his old life his dad hit his mum.   Holly is swimming in one direction and Ed’s swimming in the other. As their worlds collide they find a window into each other’s lives - and learn how to meet in the middle. *Please subscribe to my blog, Simsational Reads. Link to Review on Blog: https://sims1496.wixsite.com/simsatio...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bárbara

    This book was precious. I bought this last month during my vacation in Paris, at Shakespeare & C0. and at the time I thought, with my ever-growing tbr pile, it would be a while before I picked it. Luck had other things in mind, cause this one was the one whose name I picked from a small jar of papers when I was trying to decide what to read to start off my winter break. Context aside, now, I loved this book. It's about families, and how messy they can be. It's a bit about finding your own place This book was precious. I bought this last month during my vacation in Paris, at Shakespeare & C0. and at the time I thought, with my ever-growing tbr pile, it would be a while before I picked it. Luck had other things in mind, cause this one was the one whose name I picked from a small jar of papers when I was trying to decide what to read to start off my winter break. Context aside, now, I loved this book. It's about families, and how messy they can be. It's a bit about finding your own place in the world, and grabbing the crappiest situations life shoves your way by the balls and reshaping them into something that fits you. It's a book about swimming, about the incredible power of water to wash you off all the crap that taints your life. About finding yourself, defining yourself, not letting the world or circumstances define you. It's a book about all the ways life can be a bit crap no matter who you are, and how wonderful it can be to find a way to untangle that mess out of sheer willpower. There's so much love floating around in this book, in so many different shapes- and it's there not only to counter-balance the bad stuff, but also because it flows out the wonderful, precious characters: Holly and Ed are not only awesome together as friends, but the other characters are also so sweet and loving, the entire group dynamic ends up being the strongest feat of the story. I found so many wonderful messages in this story that I'm kind of selfish and I'll just prompt you to read this and discover for yourself. At least I'm not selfish in the sense that I'm willing to share the experience that was this book. It deserves to be read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Fabulous Book Fiend

    Rachael Lucas has done it again, she has found something which doesn't normally get talked about openly in young adult literature and blown it wide open in this novel. This book is definitely a reminder that we don't know what goes on behind closed doors and that we really don't know what people, specifically young people, are dealing with at home when we come into contact with them and decide how to treat them! This book also serves as a reminder to those who might be dealing with the issues in Rachael Lucas has done it again, she has found something which doesn't normally get talked about openly in young adult literature and blown it wide open in this novel. This book is definitely a reminder that we don't know what goes on behind closed doors and that we really don't know what people, specifically young people, are dealing with at home when we come into contact with them and decide how to treat them! This book also serves as a reminder to those who might be dealing with the issues in this book that they are not alone, that there are other people like them and there are people out there who are willing to help them. I found Holly and Ed really easy to like as characters. Because of the way the book is structured, you have an instant sympathy for Holly and so that really helps you get to know her and get on here side. Ed is such a sweetheart and the fact that he has something in common with Holly will just make you root for the two of them all the way to the end of the book. The swimming pool is also a major player in this book, it is a salve for Holly and another thing that links her and Ed. I know the value of getting under the water and forgetting everything else that is going on with the world and I am glad that this author has shone a light on that! Obviously there are a lot of issues dealt with in this novel, there's a definite trigger warning for domestic abuse here, however I think that the way Rachael Lucas deals with these issues, through these young people, is really great and really sensitive. I think that because we are seeing these issues play out in the lives of these young people, they almost don't become the main focus of the book, they are a hurdle which Holly and Ed need to, not overcome, but accept as part of their lives. I just really liked the fact that this author has openly dealt with the issue of hoarding and everything else she covers in this book through the medium of young adult literature. The storyline was gripping, the characters were easy to like and this was a great read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nicola Clough

    This is quite an easy read and full of romance and friendship where you least expect it. The characters are good and story plot is good so true to life has you wanting to read more to see what happens. Can read quickly and curl up and read on a lovely day. It's a powerful story to with many difficulties that families have. You have holly who's mum is a border and she is picked on at school for being different and she's fed up with it. She wants to be invisible but she lives swimming so she goes This is quite an easy read and full of romance and friendship where you least expect it. The characters are good and story plot is good so true to life has you wanting to read more to see what happens. Can read quickly and curl up and read on a lovely day. It's a powerful story to with many difficulties that families have. You have holly who's mum is a border and she is picked on at school for being different and she's fed up with it. She wants to be invisible but she lives swimming so she goes to the swimming pool to excape life. Then you have Ed who's life has changed so much as he's moved into a safe house and no longer has money he had everything he ever wanted now has nothing. They form a friendship which is what you wouldn't expect as so different but can they find romance and happiness or not and can they support each other with their difficult lives.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chloe

    This book was a bit slow, mostly because i don’t usually read these types of books, but i did enjoy it! It wasn’t the most amazing thing i’ve ever read but it had its moments. Its focused around a 16 year old girl who lives in Scotland, who swims for fun & later, teaches swimming as a job. She meets a boy named Ed at the pool and the two of them hit it off. But their romance is simply a behind the scenes thing for me and the parts that stood out are the tales of both of their home lives. Their m This book was a bit slow, mostly because i don’t usually read these types of books, but i did enjoy it! It wasn’t the most amazing thing i’ve ever read but it had its moments. Its focused around a 16 year old girl who lives in Scotland, who swims for fun & later, teaches swimming as a job. She meets a boy named Ed at the pool and the two of them hit it off. But their romance is simply a behind the scenes thing for me and the parts that stood out are the tales of both of their home lives. Their mothers are both struggling with difficult times during the book, and i thought it was a nice way to make it feel more real- like each other are their only escapes. Holly and Ed were both likeable, simply put together characters who i enjoyed reading about. I sympathised easily with both them and was glad to read about a girl who was described as being not particularly conventionally attractive, a little chubby and quite tall and also Ed was not described as being some “hot muscled guy” either, he seemed like your average teenager. Overall, a super cute little read! I actually really want to see what else the author has written because i did like her simply writing style & her plot was also simple but solid! I’d definitely recommend if you’re looking for something small, mostly cute but also with a deeper background !!!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Megan (thebookishtwins)

    Disclaimer: I received this free from the publisher via Netgalley Holly has a passion for swimming because in the water everyone is the same. No one sticks out for being weird or being poor. Holly lives on a council estate with her mum who also happens to be a hoarder. It doesn’t make her home life ideal. Holly meets Ed at the swimming pool who swims to escape from his home. He used to have money, he was on the swim team, he had known who he was and what he wanted. Now, he lives in a house assign Disclaimer: I received this free from the publisher via Netgalley Holly has a passion for swimming because in the water everyone is the same. No one sticks out for being weird or being poor. Holly lives on a council estate with her mum who also happens to be a hoarder. It doesn’t make her home life ideal. Holly meets Ed at the swimming pool who swims to escape from his home. He used to have money, he was on the swim team, he had known who he was and what he wanted. Now, he lives in a house assigned by the women’s refuge with an uncertain future. An unlikely romance starts between the two and they find a window into each other’s lives. My Box-Shaped Heart was an easy read with an awkward, but cute, first-time romance. I loved how their romance developed and I loved how both Holly and Ed had a passion for swimming. I liked how, in a way, they were both each other’s escape from their own individual home lives. I mostly enjoyed the swimming aspect because it is something that you don’t often see in YA which was nice. Holly also lived on a council estate in Scotland and I really appreciated that and I also appreciated the fact that Holly swims and works at a council swimming pool. I’ve not read many books with a working-class m/c. I most recently read Skylarks by Karen Gregory which I adored but My Box-Shaped Heart focused less on the fact that the m/c is working class but more on Holly’s character arc and her relationship with her mother and her growing romance with Ed. My Box-Shaped Heart features some pretty heavy topics such as depression, hoarding, and domestic abuse but it still manages to be a nice summer read with a light-hearted romance. Overall, My Box-Shaped Heart is a lovely read that I do recommend if you are looking for a light-hearted romance which also features some deeper and heavier themes.

  7. 5 out of 5

    16KiteM

    I thought this book was really good and age appropriate for me. I really liked the storyline and all of the characters. I especially liked how they had all sorts of characters, so it related to the modern day. The main character had a step sister who was very popular at school,whereas the main character was the complete opposite. The main characters mum isn't very good at letting go of things, so her house is a mess. This is i think where the title comes from ; everything is boxed up. I would de I thought this book was really good and age appropriate for me. I really liked the storyline and all of the characters. I especially liked how they had all sorts of characters, so it related to the modern day. The main character had a step sister who was very popular at school,whereas the main character was the complete opposite. The main characters mum isn't very good at letting go of things, so her house is a mess. This is i think where the title comes from ; everything is boxed up. I would definately recommend this book to girls aged 13.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    4.5 stars Rachael Lucas has done it again! I adored The State of Grace and was really highly anticipating the release of My Box-Shaped Heart as a result and I was not at all disappointed. This book is gorgeous and filled with layered characters that I could really connect with. I loved their stories and how authentic the whole book felt. What really stood out for me is that this is the kind of book that someone somewhere will pick up and see themselves for the first time. Holly and I clicked immed 4.5 stars Rachael Lucas has done it again! I adored The State of Grace and was really highly anticipating the release of My Box-Shaped Heart as a result and I was not at all disappointed. This book is gorgeous and filled with layered characters that I could really connect with. I loved their stories and how authentic the whole book felt. What really stood out for me is that this is the kind of book that someone somewhere will pick up and see themselves for the first time. Holly and I clicked immediately. I really felt for her when learning about her living conditions with her mother. Although she loves her mother wholeheartedly, she is embarrassed by the state of their house due to her mum’s hoarding, which inevitably causes her some social difficulties too. The teachers are concerned about her, she has so much responsibility on those young shoulders and I just really warmed to her. Holly’s passion is swimming and it was really great to read a book where the character’s passion was what really kept her going when things were tough. At a first glimpse I was wary of Ed (or ‘the boy’ as I first called him in my review notes). He seemed quite full of himself but I could also sense there was something going on. When that something became more revealed my feelings for Ed changed completely and I just adored him. There are a whole host of other fantastic characters in this book including Cressi the amazing neighbour who supports Holly with her swimming as well as at home with her mother. I think we could all do with a Cressi in our lives from time to time! I also really liked reading the scenes with Allie and Rio in and I warmed to Lauren more and more as the book went on. In fact some of my favourite scenes were with Lauren and Holly. There are also a few not so nice characters in the book so it’s not all rainbows and puppies! The friendship and romance with Holly and Ed was so perfectly written it still makes my heart swell thinking about it now and I read this book a few months ago! They are absolutely adorable and I’m not sure I will ever see Oreos in the same way again after that gorgeous scene (if you’ve read the book then you know the one, if you haven’t then what are you waiting for?) My favourite thing about this book though? Definitely seeing Holly’s struggle and I say this because her struggle is so real and so many readers will resonate with it. Holly is embarrassed of their house, she keeps herself to herself because of her mum but at the same time she adores her mum and still counts herself as lucky to have a loving home – even if it’s not her dream home physically. Some parts of this struggle were so honest that they left me feeling raw with emotion. It’s a really touching and beautiful read. I don’t want to go much into the plot as I think this is a book that is best discovered for yourself but what I can tell you is that My Box-Shaped Heart is much more than it first appears. It is a book about friendship, love, families, learning to love yourself and it will leave your heart pounding with emotion. I really can’t wait to see what Rachael Lucas will write next! Thanks to NetGalley, Macmillan Children’s Books and Rachael Lucas for my advanced copy in exchange of a fair and honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    I won an ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway! 3 stars for a YA contemporary romance that could have been better if it included more cute romantic moments and less over-the-top drama. My Box-Shaped Heart is about Holly, a girl who is not very popular, and Ed, a mysterious and handsome boy who is also not very popular. Holly and Ed meet at the pool where Holly volunteers and Ed begins to frequent. The two teens swim to get away from their family issues, including their abusive and absent father I won an ARC of this book in a Goodreads giveaway! 3 stars for a YA contemporary romance that could have been better if it included more cute romantic moments and less over-the-top drama. My Box-Shaped Heart is about Holly, a girl who is not very popular, and Ed, a mysterious and handsome boy who is also not very popular. Holly and Ed meet at the pool where Holly volunteers and Ed begins to frequent. The two teens swim to get away from their family issues, including their abusive and absent fathers and a hoarder mom. Holly and Ed become a couple, but still keep their secrets to themselves, which causes misunderstandings. Not much swimming actually happens in this book. I liked that My Box-Shaped heart was super short. At around 200 pages, you won't find any dragged-out story elements here because it's all quickly wrapped up, which makes for a fast read. I also liked how the characters were portrayed (shout-out to the realistic antagonists and how they weren't just evil for no good reason), and Holly was an okay lead, although a little bland. I was never crazy about Ed - he was such a normal male love interest with no likable quirks that I ended up not caring about him. The ending was what made me give this book three stars. A confrontation is made, and I think the book should have ended with the focus on the main couple and not anyone else. The confrontation ends poorly, and though the book's epilogue (and ending) is happy, the last chapter was frustrating for both me and the main characters. I would recommend My Box-Shaped Heart to anyone looking for a new contemporary read that focuses on issues deeper than the typical YA romance does. Or maybe if you really like books about swimming.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Edel

    This is the delightful story of a teenager called Holly and one summer of her life where everything changes . Holly lives in an overwhelming amount of clutter with a mother who is struggling with depression and a multitude of other issues , Holly is essentially the adult in the family and struggling to live her own life and she is way down the list of her responsibilities of which there are plenty so when she is offered a job doing the one thing in the world she loves she jumps at the chance and This is the delightful story of a teenager called Holly and one summer of her life where everything changes . Holly lives in an overwhelming amount of clutter with a mother who is struggling with depression and a multitude of other issues , Holly is essentially the adult in the family and struggling to live her own life and she is way down the list of her responsibilities of which there are plenty so when she is offered a job doing the one thing in the world she loves she jumps at the chance and it’s about to change her life . This was an inspiring and uplifting read about domestic violence , the importance of family and friends and happily ever afters. Loved it ! I received this book for review from the lovely people over at lovereading.co.uk. This book is being published May 2018 and will be available from lovereading.co.uk and all other good bookstores then.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amy (Golden Books Girl)

    I have been meaning to read this book for ages (even more so since one of my closest friends absolutely loves it), and I`m so pleased I`ve finally read it. It is the story of two teens named Holly and Ed, who both have pretty complicated home lives, as they meet and fall in love via their swimming pool, and it is so lovely. I don`t know why I`d expected a dual narrative when I started this, but I loved Holly`s narration so much I didn`t care that I was wrong, especially since her sense of humour I have been meaning to read this book for ages (even more so since one of my closest friends absolutely loves it), and I`m so pleased I`ve finally read it. It is the story of two teens named Holly and Ed, who both have pretty complicated home lives, as they meet and fall in love via their swimming pool, and it is so lovely. I don`t know why I`d expected a dual narrative when I started this, but I loved Holly`s narration so much I didn`t care that I was wrong, especially since her sense of humour was great. That`s not to say I didn`t like Ed though, because I truly did, and I was a big fan of several side characters as well (mostly Cress, because what a queen!). Something else I adored was how gentle this felt somehow, as even though it deals with difficult subjects such as hoarding and the aftermath of domestic violence, it is so hopeful and cosy that it feels wholly uplifting. A wonderful love story that somehow feels real and like the stuff of fairy tales all at the same time 4.5/5

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tabrizia

    Such a heartwarming romantic novel about friendship and trying to find the happiness that you deserve when nothing seems to go your way. What I really like about this novel is that it discusses issues that you don't commonly find in YA literature. Holly's mother is a hoarder and battling with depression while Ed and his mother are escaping an abusive relationship. It really demonstrates the real issues that teens face but are not known because they are hidden behind doors. It also shows that peo Such a heartwarming romantic novel about friendship and trying to find the happiness that you deserve when nothing seems to go your way. What I really like about this novel is that it discusses issues that you don't commonly find in YA literature. Holly's mother is a hoarder and battling with depression while Ed and his mother are escaping an abusive relationship. It really demonstrates the real issues that teens face but are not known because they are hidden behind doors. It also shows that people are always there to help you. The swimming pool is used as a healing tool for both Holly and Ed. In the pool, they can be themselves and all their worries and anxieties melt away. This is such an insightful read that is perfect to curl up in your favorite chair and finish on a perfect day.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lara

    Okay, I liked this more than I thought I would at the beginning

  14. 4 out of 5

    Karen Whittard

    Holly is a lovely young lady who is leading a bit of a troubled life. She is getting picked in at school (something I completely sympathised with her about) and her mum is a hoarder. Needing escape Holly’s escapes to the gym and find comfort and escapism in swimming. One of the swimming instructors sees Holly’s talent and allows Holly to become a swimming assistant. But then her mum breaks her leg and seeing that Holly needs help Cressi decides to run some erronds for the family and ends up help Holly is a lovely young lady who is leading a bit of a troubled life. She is getting picked in at school (something I completely sympathised with her about) and her mum is a hoarder. Needing escape Holly’s escapes to the gym and find comfort and escapism in swimming. One of the swimming instructors sees Holly’s talent and allows Holly to become a swimming assistant. But then her mum breaks her leg and seeing that Holly needs help Cressi decides to run some erronds for the family and ends up helping to clear away the hoarding mess. With every bit of rubbish that is cleared. Holly’s mum gets brighter and finally decides that she needs to seek help from the doctor. Ed goes swimming to escape the trauma of his abusive dad. Who used to beat Ed’s mum. Thankfully they now live in a safe house where he cannot find them anymore. Both Ed and Holly are living troubled lives and it is no surprise that they end up becoming close friends and even a little romance sparks between them. Throw into the mix one of Holly’s friends gaining the confidence to tell them that she is gay and we have a very topical book. That I believe not only teenagers of today can relate to but adults as well. As always Rachel writes in a style that is easy to read and engages the read from the very first page. I throughly enjoyed reading this book. With lovely characters and an intriguing storyline. This book ticked all the right box’s for me and I very much enjoyed reading it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    BookAholicEllie

    I really enjoyed this book and completed it in 3nights. Its a very easy contemporary read. The relationship build up is extremely cute. I loved Holly as a character and her voice as it flowed beautifully. The descriptions of Hoarding is realistic and amazingly written. The element of secrecy throughout between the two is cool to read. Even as they are close they still don't know much about each others life. Other than swimming. I love swimming and used to be a competitor. So the swimming element of t I really enjoyed this book and completed it in 3nights. Its a very easy contemporary read. The relationship build up is extremely cute. I loved Holly as a character and her voice as it flowed beautifully. The descriptions of Hoarding is realistic and amazingly written. The element of secrecy throughout between the two is cool to read. Even as they are close they still don't know much about each others life. Other than swimming. I love swimming and used to be a competitor. So the swimming element of the novel absolutely appealed to me. Mostly its just a fun, lighthearted ,quick romance read. That deals with Mental health too. (Which was right up my street).

  16. 5 out of 5

    Liam

    I honestly don't know how Rachael Lucas pulls this one off, but she does and it is simply wonderful! My Box-Shaped Heart deals with so many big, serious issues. Holly's mum is struggling with her own mental health problems. Holly is having to care for her, and cope with everything on her own. She has problems at school and an awkward relationship with the girl who was her step-sister until their parents split up. Ed has his own parent problems he's trying to deal with. Neither of them fit in, and I honestly don't know how Rachael Lucas pulls this one off, but she does and it is simply wonderful! My Box-Shaped Heart deals with so many big, serious issues. Holly's mum is struggling with her own mental health problems. Holly is having to care for her, and cope with everything on her own. She has problems at school and an awkward relationship with the girl who was her step-sister until their parents split up. Ed has his own parent problems he's trying to deal with. Neither of them fit in, and they're trying to figure out the relationship between them around all of this. My Box-Shaped Heart should be heavy, hard hitting and emotional. It should leave the reader drained. Yet somehow it doesn't. There's definitely an awful lot of emotion in there, don't get me wrong. This is a novel that packs a punch. And yet, somehow it wraps it up in beautiful prose that leaves you feeling warm, comfortable, possibly even slightly fuzzy. This is a novel that says "Yes, life is hard, people will let you down, but it's going to be okay." It's a novel I needed to read, and it's a novel I'll be reading again because it is so important to be reminded of that. That we're not alone, that we're not too weird, that we'll get through. It's lovely. There's something else that struck me while I was reading My Box-Shaped Heart. Now I'm a very tactile person. My ex-wife regularly used to disapprove of the way I'd walk through shops touching things, just to get a feel for them. My Box-Shaped Heart is possibly the first book I've read where that sense of touch comes across really strongly in the writing. "We're in a meadow full of wildflowers, and as we walk I run my hands along the tops of the grasses, feeling them tickling my palms." "I press the flat of my hand against it for a second, feeling the way each little stone jabs into my palm." Rachael's writing really pulls you into the story, with all of your senses engaged. It is very clever, and very well done.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Eve beinguniquebooks

    Holly has a tough time time in school as she gets bullies while Holly's mum is also a hoarder and so she escapes to the swimming pool for relaxation and to escape her and life. Cressi, a kind neighbour manages to allow Holly to be a swimming assistant and Holly is grateful to have an excuse to not be at home. However, her mum has a broken leg from falling in all the mess and when kind Cressi calls in to check on them both she helps clear the house and slowly the hoarding mess lessens so much her Holly has a tough time time in school as she gets bullies while Holly's mum is also a hoarder and so she escapes to the swimming pool for relaxation and to escape her and life. Cressi, a kind neighbour manages to allow Holly to be a swimming assistant and Holly is grateful to have an excuse to not be at home. However, her mum has a broken leg from falling in all the mess and when kind Cressi calls in to check on them both she helps clear the house and slowly the hoarding mess lessens so much her Mum even brightens up and goes to the doctors where she's to start CBT for depression, seemingly triggered by her breakup with Lauren's dad. Allie and Rio are her two best school friends from school and often hang out with her and Allie later confides in them both that she's gay and later the trio attend a gallery where Allie tells them who her crush is. Ed goes to the swimming baths to escape his abusive dad whom used to hit his mum until they got lives to a safe house where he hopefully can't trace them to. His and Holly's lives collide quite literally as they swim into each other by accident one day and proceed to see each other at the baths and their bus stop and when Ed gives her his number it's inevitable they start hanging out more and more as they escape their chaotic lives together. Both Ed and Holly deal with tough situations forced on them thanks to their parents own issues. They found friendship and love in each other unexpectedly as well as giving them another reason escaping their parents drama was right for them as they shouldn't be expected to look after them. Cressi was a kind soul to step in and I commend the book for her character as she gave a more stable adult presence in Holly's life who took an interest in helping her grow as a person and encouraged her interests. It was a cute read as they find their bubble of combined happiness. Many thanks to the publishers for allowing me to review this book for them!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jenni

    This was such a good book. I'm a big fan of quieter books that tell real, heartfelt stories and this is such a good example of that. I felt drawn into the lives of the characters, particularly Holly's, so well that as times it felt like I was standing alongside them watching their story play out. This book deals with some really big social issues and handles them so very well. A really impressive read. This was such a good book. I'm a big fan of quieter books that tell real, heartfelt stories and this is such a good example of that. I felt drawn into the lives of the characters, particularly Holly's, so well that as times it felt like I was standing alongside them watching their story play out. This book deals with some really big social issues and handles them so very well. A really impressive read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lizzie Huxley-Jones

    This book owns my heart. As with Lucas’ previous YA outing, State of Grace, this book has blended a sweet summer romance with complex family dynamics to create a gorgeous story. Holly stands out — for being poor, for being weird and for having the wrong clothes. Her one safe place is the pool, away from her troubled mother, their cramped house and the memories of the family they once had. When beautiful Ed keeps showing up to speak to her, Holly is faced with an opportunity to fall in love but als This book owns my heart. As with Lucas’ previous YA outing, State of Grace, this book has blended a sweet summer romance with complex family dynamics to create a gorgeous story. Holly stands out — for being poor, for being weird and for having the wrong clothes. Her one safe place is the pool, away from her troubled mother, their cramped house and the memories of the family they once had. When beautiful Ed keeps showing up to speak to her, Holly is faced with an opportunity to fall in love but also to help someone else who is slowly drowning. I read the whole of this book lying on the grass one afternoon, finding myself laughing out loud and crying in turns. Holly and Ed’s families feel so real, and this book will provide solace for teens whose parents struggle with their mental health or being victims of violence. And seeing more working class characters in YA is wonderful! A contemporary YA filled with swoons and tears that needs to find itself on your TBR.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emily Lloyd

    *I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This was another great read from Rachael Lucas in a similar style to her previous novel that was full of friendship, romance and family issues (and Oreos). Another heartwarming story that was easy to read and had loveable characters with realistic problems. Holly’s mum is a serial hoarder and this means their house is getting out of control with things piled up in every corner even though they are struggling to *I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This was another great read from Rachael Lucas in a similar style to her previous novel that was full of friendship, romance and family issues (and Oreos). Another heartwarming story that was easy to read and had loveable characters with realistic problems. Holly’s mum is a serial hoarder and this means their house is getting out of control with things piled up in every corner even though they are struggling to make ends meet. She feels lonely at school especially after her mum broke up with her stepfather leaving her with an ex-stepsister, Lauren, who now hangs out with a cool crowd and ignores her. Ed has suddenly moved to town with his mum to get away from his dad and his life has turned upside down now he has been cut off from his old school, money and friends. Holly and Ed both swim to escape and their paths cross at the pool one day leading to the development of a sweet romance between the two. The relationship between Ed and Holly is the highlight of this book as there is a slow-burn build from friendship to romance and their interactions were always cute and realistic. Holly’s mum’s friend Cressi is a breath of fresh air in the story, and in Holly’s life, as she intervenes when Holly’s mum injures herself tripping up over her mess. Cressi encourages her to get the professional help she needs for her problems and helps to deal with the state of the house. As Holly’s home life improves she also gains more confidence at school and solidifies friendships with two other outcasts, Allie and Rio. This is a heartwarming, light-hearted romance with secondary plots dealing with some deeper themes like mental health, abuse and coming out. A great depiction of how messy, and complicated families can be and I loved the beautiful Scottish setting. I really recommend getting this when it comes out on 17th May.

  21. 5 out of 5

    April

    An easy read with lots of romance and friendship. The characters are good and I really enjoyed each of them which doesn't alway happen. In terms of the story I thought the plot was good, realistic and kept me reading to find out what happened. The only aspect I wanted more from was the mental health side aspect of the story. Overall I would highly recommend. An easy read with lots of romance and friendship. The characters are good and I really enjoyed each of them which doesn't alway happen. In terms of the story I thought the plot was good, realistic and kept me reading to find out what happened. The only aspect I wanted more from was the mental health side aspect of the story. Overall I would highly recommend.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Seawood

    I received this as a free ebook from Netgalley. This does not affect my review. I adored The State Of Grace. My Box Shaped Heart is a softer, gentler story even though it begins in difficulties; my favourite thing about it is the sense of hopefulness, of recovery from dark times. Holly's had to step up and be a carer, putting her own life last for so long that she barely recognises change when it comes. Ed's lovely - obviously sore and wounded but again, putting himself last, so that the relation I received this as a free ebook from Netgalley. This does not affect my review. I adored The State Of Grace. My Box Shaped Heart is a softer, gentler story even though it begins in difficulties; my favourite thing about it is the sense of hopefulness, of recovery from dark times. Holly's had to step up and be a carer, putting her own life last for so long that she barely recognises change when it comes. Ed's lovely - obviously sore and wounded but again, putting himself last, so that the relationship between the two of them evolves languorously as their lives improve and start to come out of the darker times. Above anything else, this is a read for when you want to be reminded that life does get better, that change isn't always bad, and that people really do want to help. Whilst light on the mental health aspects in the story (depression, separation and domestic violence are all presented as background facts to be worked on rather than being explored in great detail); there is a detailed section at the end providing contact details for Refuge, Mind etc.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

    one of those books that made your heart ache

  24. 4 out of 5

    Snjez

    A lovely story about families, friends and love. I liked the writing, all the characters were very real and likeable and I really enjoyed the Scottish setting.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alyce Hunt

    "I don't really know what sort of person I am," I say. "But I think it's time to find out."  Holly and Ed both use their local swimming pool as a way to escape from the things that are troubling them. Holly's mum started hoarding after breaking up with Holly's step-dad, Neil, and their house is overwhelmed with stuff that never gets dealt with. Meanwhile Ed and his mum have only just moved to the area and he doesn't want to share much about his past, but Holly can see that the fancy labels on his "I don't really know what sort of person I am," I say. "But I think it's time to find out."  Holly and Ed both use their local swimming pool as a way to escape from the things that are troubling them. Holly's mum started hoarding after breaking up with Holly's step-dad, Neil, and their house is overwhelmed with stuff that never gets dealt with. Meanwhile Ed and his mum have only just moved to the area and he doesn't want to share much about his past, but Holly can see that the fancy labels on his clothes don't mean a thing anymore. Bonding over their mutual love of swimming, Holly and Ed's friendship quickly blossoms, and suddenly Holly doesn't want to be invisible anymore. The thing I liked the most about My Box-Shaped Heart was that there is hardly any exaggerated conflict in this story. Holly and Ed like each other and there's no will-they-or-won't-they, they just start going out. Rachael Lucas perfectly describes the excitement and nerves which accompany the beginning of every relationship, but I didn't feel anxious or concerned while reading this book. It was a breath of fresh air. They each have their own trials and tribulations - Holly's mum breaks her ankle, while Ed eventually reveals that his dad was abusing his mum - but their relationship is a safe haven for them both. I can't think of another YA book where this is the case: normally the familial problems take their toll on the relationship and that's the main conflict which drives the plot, so it was great to read something different. There is still conflict (there wouldn't really be a story without it!) but it's mundane, ordinary conflict which most readers will be able to empathise with. I'm a bit of a hoarder myself, so I could definitely relate to Holly's embarrassment about the state of the house and not feeling able to invite her friends over. Although this is a short book, clocking in at just over 250 pages, it deals with a lot of topics which aren't commonly focused upon in YA which made it an even more compelling read. The moral of My Box-Shaped Heart is that you can choose your own family, and that blood isn't thicker than water (which made the setting of the swimming pool a clever choice!). This is a highly important message to convey to younger readers, particularly those who may have parents going through divorce or separation. They'll be learning to come to terms with a different family structure to the one that they've always had, which is exactly what Holly and Ed have to cope with. Families come in all different shapes and sizes - nothing is normal or abnormal anymore! This review was originally posted on The Bumbling Blogger.

  26. 5 out of 5

    JeniehLko

    Rating:2.5/5. My Box-Shaped Heart is nice. It exists. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s a book that tries to say something, to mean something, but shoves way too much into a relatively short story and ends up not providing any substance to the subplots. The blurb tells us that Holly is being picked on. Yet, at no point in the story is Holly picked on. At all. Sure, the narrator tells us Holly is a social reject, Holly is the lowest of the low, Holly is invisible to her classmates… but we, the rea Rating:2.5/5. My Box-Shaped Heart is nice. It exists. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s a book that tries to say something, to mean something, but shoves way too much into a relatively short story and ends up not providing any substance to the subplots. The blurb tells us that Holly is being picked on. Yet, at no point in the story is Holly picked on. At all. Sure, the narrator tells us Holly is a social reject, Holly is the lowest of the low, Holly is invisible to her classmates… but we, the reader, are never actually shown this. At first, I thought, maybe Holly was an unreliable narrator. That years of self-doubt had caused her to build a way between herself and her classmates, and this was a coming-of-age story about knowing when to ask for help from those around you… but nope. In fact, the entirety of this book centres on telling the reader XYZ is a problem and has been for years, only to drop us in just moments before everything gets resolved. Mother’s a hoarder? No problem, the neighbour will pop round and clean the entire house from top to bottom, let’s never address this again. Mother has depression? Well, she’s taking medication now! Problem solved. Haven’t spoken to you stepsister in years? Make a pizza together! Did you guys just become best friends? Mother fleeing from domestic violence? Ah, don’t worry the Epilogue will resolve everything! Way too much has been shoehorned into this plot, and as such, none of these issues really get the attention their deserve. My Box-Shaped Heart is an example of a book where so much is happening and yet, at the same time, not enough is happening.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Holly lives in a small town near Edinburgh, Scotland, and she's grown increasingly concerned about her mother's ability to cope. After her stepfather, Neil, a serial cheater, left her mother, Fiona has becoming increasingly isolated and begun hoarding various items. As often happens in cases like this, Holly can barely move through the house. But when her mother has an accident and a family friend sorts out the clutter and gets Fiona into therapy, things at home start to change. Holly isn't sure Holly lives in a small town near Edinburgh, Scotland, and she's grown increasingly concerned about her mother's ability to cope. After her stepfather, Neil, a serial cheater, left her mother, Fiona has becoming increasingly isolated and begun hoarding various items. As often happens in cases like this, Holly can barely move through the house. But when her mother has an accident and a family friend sorts out the clutter and gets Fiona into therapy, things at home start to change. Holly isn't sure whether to trust the changes even while she herself is changing, falling in love with Ed, a boy she meets at the pool where she works. He seems completely out of her league, judging from his accent and clothing. Of course, both teens are hiding secrets even while their relationship begins to unfold-with Holly fearful that Ed will learn how her mother once was a hoarder and Ed unwilling to share how he and his mother have arrived at such a reduced economic situation. Teen readers will enjoy seeing Holly grow in confidence, spread her wings, and take some chances while also coming to realize that abusive relationships cross all sorts of borders. Fathers take a bit of a beating in this novel, and readers will be hard pressed to find anything admirable about Neil of Ed's dad. I wish there had been a bit more about Fiona's road to recovery since the book makes it seems as though it was fairly smooth.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Just finished it and let me quickly list down the things you come across this little novel! 1. It's based Scotland I'm sure you have read many books centred in the UK or US. But this is different from the lifestyle, weather and people you have seen there. 2. Do you love swimming? There are so many cute scenes at the pool with Holly, Ed and Cress(I love this woman!) Trust me they are so adorable and indeed refreshing. 3. Holly That's our main girl! Redhead, big-boned, tall girl. Yep! There are so many Just finished it and let me quickly list down the things you come across this little novel! 1. It's based Scotland I'm sure you have read many books centred in the UK or US. But this is different from the lifestyle, weather and people you have seen there. 2. Do you love swimming? There are so many cute scenes at the pool with Holly, Ed and Cress(I love this woman!) Trust me they are so adorable and indeed refreshing. 3. Holly That's our main girl! Redhead, big-boned, tall girl. Yep! There are so many adjectives to describe her. She might not be the cute girl you meet in the most YA novels. Writer perfectly addresses her insecurities. Honestly, I can pretty much relate to her. 4. Multiple themes So one thing you have to remember before diving in is that there are so many themes discussed in the novel - family, sisterhood, hoarding disorders, domestic violence, teenage insecurities, generation gap etc. In the end, I felt that the writer had used too many topics to juggle, and that threw it off the balance. Since she didn't have time to address all the topics, she has used the epilogue to cover them. However, I think if she used a few more chapters she could have delivered it smoothly. Overall 3.5/5 stars 🌟 There are beautiful scenes in "My box shaped heart" and it is a perfect book to enjoy during the summer 🌞 These cute moments of young love will indeed bring back good memories!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kayleigh Cyphus

    I'd seen a lot of excitement for this book brewing over on Twitter so when I saw it go up on NetGalley I just knew I had to try My Box-Shaped Heart. I love YA contemporary books, especially UKYA, so this is right up my street. Luckily, it didn't disappoint and was a book that I looked forward to picking up every time I had a spare 5 minutes. One thing that I really liked about this book is how the main characters all come from dysfunctional families that aren't the "norm". Coming from a single-pa I'd seen a lot of excitement for this book brewing over on Twitter so when I saw it go up on NetGalley I just knew I had to try My Box-Shaped Heart. I love YA contemporary books, especially UKYA, so this is right up my street. Luckily, it didn't disappoint and was a book that I looked forward to picking up every time I had a spare 5 minutes. One thing that I really liked about this book is how the main characters all come from dysfunctional families that aren't the "norm". Coming from a single-parent family, I could really relate to Holly and what she was going through at home with her mum, which I so rarely find in YA. I also liked how one situation that comes up in the book is handled very sensitively, and for me I didn't find it triggering, which, again, is different to a lot of YA books. I really enjoyed reading My Box-Shaped Heart and felt that the only thing that let it down was that it felt a bit lacking somehow towards the end; it just needed that little something to make it stand out more. That said, I would still thoroughly recommend this book - it was a nice light read, perfect for the summer or if you're looking for a quick read that's easy to get into!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Shane Reid

    A relatable, literal, and honest YA book, with enough laughter and light-heartedness that the serious topics didn't darken the book too much. I love the topics that the author used: hoarding, depression in parents, lost step family, domestic violence, and class differences. All these are very rare, if ever written, in Young Adult books. All told from the perspective of the child dealing with those issues in their family, the issues raised were sensitive yet understandable. After meeting Rachael Lu A relatable, literal, and honest YA book, with enough laughter and light-heartedness that the serious topics didn't darken the book too much. I love the topics that the author used: hoarding, depression in parents, lost step family, domestic violence, and class differences. All these are very rare, if ever written, in Young Adult books. All told from the perspective of the child dealing with those issues in their family, the issues raised were sensitive yet understandable. After meeting Rachael Lucas at this book's launch, I knew I had to devour this book. It had too much backstory of writing to not prioritise it. The fact that she sat down and wanted to make the book relatable to readers (and future writers) was a big thing for me, because it inspired me as a writer to not be afraid to name places in my books that exist. Ed and Holly were a beautiful, compatible couple, and so easy to like. Lauren's role in the book really hit home for me, but served as an unexpected friend for Holly, as well as a support system. Holly's happiness seems so unexpected to her that when she gets it, it's so joyful to read. I adored this book so much. There really is no other like it out there.

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