Spotlight on Diverse YA Books- A Darkly Beating Heart

A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith 

27414389After a traumatic break up with her girlfriend and the subsequent mental breakdown she had afterwards, Reiko is sent to Japan to recover. Working as an intern for her uncle’s graphic design firm, Reiko finds that she has been included in her cousin’s plan to become a teen idol. Reiko doesn’t speak the language, she is having a difficult time coming to terms with new her medications, and she doesn’t want to make any friends. The only thing fueling her life is rage. She wants to exact revenge on everyone around her, from her girlfriend and abusive older brother. Nothing is more important than the world ending rage fueled revenge plans she is constantly cultivating. Reiko’s cousin and her entourage (which includes Reiko) go for a weekend to a small historical/religious village, which is having a popular festival. As the crew is determining locations for a potential photo shoot, Reiko stumbles upon a way into the past. She becomes Miyu from the Edo period. Miyu is also driven by rage, for reasons Reiko attempts to learn. Soon Reiko finds solace in the past and another life, making her connection to the present tenuous at best. What are Miyu’s true motivations and will Reiko be lost to the past?

This novel read like a novelized form of a manga. It is the first that I have come across. It weaves Japanese culture into the story, making it both informative and interesting. Reiko is a unique character, whose parents are Japanese immigrants and she deals with issues related to the world’s acceptance of her bisexuality. This was a supernatural/time travel novel, which just so happened to include relevant social issues. I feel that the novel offers a diverse example of a supernatural/time travel thriller.

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