Simon & Schuster UK, August 2015
“Feeling alive is always worth the risk.”
A chance meeting on the Owl – San Francisco’s night bus – brings Beatrix and Jack together. Beatrix is focused and dedicated, she always wears her hair in braids and wants to be a medical illustrator. Jack is exuberant and charming, is secretly a notorious graffiti artist who sprays words in golden paint around the city. They have an electric connection, but even as they get to know each other better it is clear that Jack is hiding a dark secret. Will Bex find out Jack’s story? And will she be able to help him?
Initially I found the characters lacked credibility – they were a bit too quirky – but as the book progressed I warmed to them. While Bex and Jack aren’t your average teens, they are likeable and relatable. Their slow-burning romance is handled brilliantly, and the book deals very positively with sex. Bennett also handles mental health issues in a very sensitive and informative manner, creating a character who is more than her problems. She explores how a mental illness can affect not only the person, but those around them. As well as the strong protagonists, other characters – particularly Bex’s family – are well drawn and interesting. The book explores creativity – what art is, what we try to express and why. it is a love story, but it is also much more than that. Night Owls is an engaging and memorable read, with nuanced characters and well-developed relationships. This is Jenn Bennett’s first foray into YA, and I certainly hope there is more to come!
In the US this book was published as The Anatomical Shape of a Heart which quite nicely references Beatrix’s passion for medical illustration (in particular a diagram of the heart by Max Brödel, one of the two artists Bennett dedicates the book to) and her developing relationship with Jack. However, I think the title Night Owls captures the atmosphere of the book well, and I love the UK cover. The UK proofs had a tag on the front – one of the words Jack sprays around the city. Mine said ‘BELONG’.
Interview with Jenn Bennett coming soon!
Thanks to LoveReading4Kids for sending me a copy of Night Owls to review. Check out the other reviewers’s thoughts on the book here.