11 Paper Hearts

Underlined. Jan. 2021. 320p. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780593180075.
Gr 6-10–The Valentine’s Day festivities at her high school leave senior Ella Fitzpatrick on edge. A year ago she had a serious car accident after leaving the holiday dance early. While physically recovered, Ella cannot remember anything from the weeks prior to the accident, including why she left the dance. Ella has also found it uncomfortable to step back into her former life. She frequently notices her best friends mocking other students. More disturbingly, she finds ample evidence that she behaved similarly in the past. But a paper heart message from a secret admirer sends Ella on a journey to fill in the blanks in her memory. As Ella deciphers each clue, she begins to come out of her post-accident shell and make new friends that feel more comfortable than her old ones, including adorkable Andy, who becomes her scavenger hunt partner. Will the girl who believes that everyone gets a love story finally write her own? Hartwell gives the accident-induced amnesia trope a meet-cute, and a romantic spin. Ella is engaging as she evolves from her formerly shallow self. Her romance with Andy is obvious from their first interaction, but readers will enjoy waiting for Ella to open her heart to this boy from outside her social set. While most plot threads wrap up neatly, the story does end with the acknowledgment that Ella may not be able to maintain her new friends and salvage her old ones as well. Characters’ ethnicities aren’t explicitly stated.
VERDICT Romance fans will enjoy this light, do-over love story wrapped up in a mysterious scavenger hunt.

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