Night Owls (AKA The Anatomical Shape of a Heart) – Jenn Bennett – Simon & Schuster/ Feiwel & Friends – Published 1 October 2015 (varies in each region, August – UK, November – US).
Missing the last train home, Beatrix finds herself on the Owl – San Francisco’s night bus – and meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside-down. Jack is charming, drop-dead sexy… and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists, daubing beautiful words in gold in locations across the city. Beatrix herself has an incredible artistic talent and is determined to become a medical illustrator. Across midnight buses, blog posts and through her artwork, Beatrix unravels the enigma that is Jack while the two of them fall passionately in love. But will the secrets Jack stubbornly guards come back to haunt him? Or will Bex’s own complex family fall apart first?
This book just completely blew me away. I don’t know why but for some reason I utterly underestimated how awesome it was going to be. It was a book I thought I’d try but didn’t expect to love. Well, I loved it. Totally and absolutely loved every single minute and every word of it. It was funny, heartwarming, sad, moving, beautiful, completely passionate and full of life and love and art.
Beatrix is determined to win a competitive student art competition and earn herself a scholarship. But to do so she will need access to a model. A dead model. Beatrix likes anatomy and is planning on becoming a medical illustrator. But after being stood up for a meeting with the director of the anatomy lab she catches the late bus home and meets Jack – gorgeous, charming Jack who seems to be responsible for the gold graffiti that has been appearing all over San Francisco. As Jack and Beatrix become closer they spend their summer traversing the city and slowly learning the others’ secrets.
Beatrix is wonderfully hilarious. She makes a great narrator and I adored her from the first page. Her comments and internal remarks are fabulous. She is one part sarcastic, three parts dry wit and one part all her own style. Funny, dark, serious and yet so full of light. Jack is the perfect complimentary half – charming, troubled, ever so slightly insecure and meets Beatrix quip for quip. They make a great pair. The romance is quite steamy, and I loved how they talked openly with each other. Night Owls targets mature readers, with main characters who are seniors in high-school, topics of college and moving away from home, and the book’s level of sexual content, which is tastefully executed through candid discussions and closed-door scenes.
Bex and Jack’s families are an important part of this story. It is family that provides a lot of the complications and is where the more serious issues arise. Despite the serious undertone, this book retains its lightness throughout. Teenage mental health is obviously a popular topic for young adult books this year. The mental health aspects of Night Owls emerge halfway through the book in a secondary character, and this provides a depth and meaning to the book, turning what would be a wonderful book into one that is also heartwarming and poignant.
This was a refreshing novel and highly enjoyable.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Abuse, bullying, equality, friendship, disabilities, romance, relationships and dating, mental health.
Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.
Advisory: Infrequent coarse language, f***, s***, bas***d. Sexual references and discussions, implied sexual scene, no details.
Published: 1 October 2015 by Simon and Schuster Australia. 3 November 2015 by Feiwel and Friends (US). 13 August 2015 by Simon and Schuster UK.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook. 304 pages.