Girl with More than One Heart by Laura Geringer Bass
Find Her! it says. Be Your Own!
How can Briana “be her own” when her grieving mother needs her to take care of her demanding little brother all the time? When all her grandpa can do is tell stories instead of being the “rock" she needs? When her not-so-normal home life leaves no time to pursue her dream of writing for the school literary magazine? When the first blush of a new romance threatens to be nipped in the bud? Forced by the loss of her favorite parent to see all that was once familiar with new eyes, Briana draws on her own imagination, originality, and tender loving heart to discover a surprising path through the storm.
Praise for THE GIRL WITH MORE THAN ONE HEART
"Bass tackles some heavy issues—having a sibling with a disability, losing a parent suddenly and at a young age, and coping with a parent's depression—but she manages to do it with grace and empathy." ―Kirkus Reviews
"In this tenderhearted tale, Bass (Sign of the Qin) conveys the complex, conflicting emotions that arise in a family facing the unexpected death of a parent . . . It’s an emotionally nuanced exploration of grief and resilience." ―Publishers Weekly
"Bass excels in portraying the family members, their relationships, and how they shift when one person is no longer there . . . A heartfelt story of loss, grief, and healing." ―Booklist
"Bass balances the coming-of-age narrative with a grief journey that sensitively and realistically shows how friendships and family relationships change after a tragedy." ―School Library Journal
"Readers struggling with responsibility for younger siblings might especially relate to this." ―The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Throughout The Girl with More Than One Heart, Briana reflects on happier days with her late father . . . and those memories propel her to find her own way, to “be her own” (as her second heart tells her) and embrace her new life." ―BookPage
The day my father’s heart stopped, I discovered an extra heart deep in my belly, below my right rib. It talked to me. I wasn’t crazy. Before that day, I had just one heart that never said a word.
My little brother, Aaron, was kind of crazy, I guess, but everything in our house was what my grandpa Ben liked to call “under control.” At least I always knew what to expect.
Aaron and I had two parents, but really we each had one. Mom was in charge of Aaron. As soon as he was born, she quit her job so she could take care of him. She was his. Grandpa Ben was Aaron’s, too. Dad was mine.
I missed Mom—the mother I remembered from Before Aaron. She used to pick me up every day after school. If my nose was running, she had tissues. She took them from her purse, and they smelled sweet like flowers.
I tried not to pay much attention to Aaron and Mom. I really didn’t need Mom to pick me up from school. I was old enough to walk home with my friends. I played with Peter, my best friend, and Tina, my next-to-best friend, and Reena, who tagged along. They came over to my house almost every day, or I went to theirs. Actually, it wasn’t ever Reena who tagged along. It was me, but I didn’t know it back then.
On weekends, it was harder not to notice Mom and Aaron in their own little bubble, but Dad was more fun than Mom and we had adventures, just the two of us. We’d sneak out of the house without letting Mom and Aaron know where we were going. Mostly, we just went to the movies at the Loews around the corner. Or we rode our bikes in Inwood Park. Or we went swimming at the Y. Or we took the subway to museums like the New York Hall of Science in Queens, the one with the giant yellow slide and the see-through floor and the water wheel in the play-ground. Dad walked on a weird treadmill there once with special sensors in the handlebars. It spat out a crinkly blue slip of paper like the fortune in a cookie. Dad read the paper and looked annoyed. He crumpled it into his fist and shook it at the machine. “What else is new?” he said.
I hopped oﬀ my treadmill. It was a twin to Dad’s, but it spat out a red paper. Don’t quit now, it said. Go for pro.
I showed Dad my printout. “What does yours say?” I asked. “I’ll trade you. I like blue better.” He handed his to me in an angry little ball. I rubbed it with my finger to flatten it out. It said: Your heart is working too hard.
“You may as well tell me I’m alive,” said Dad to his machine.
“Mine didn’t say that,” I said. “I’m alive.”
“You may as well tell me I have a family,” he said.
“I do, too,” I pointed out.
“And that I love my family no matter what,” he added, not looking at me. He was still talking to the treadmill. “If you’re human, your heart is working too hard,” he said.
I wondered if my treadmill could tell I didn’t love Mom and Aaron no matter what. I wondered if it knew that when it came to Mom and Aaron, I wasn’t sure I had a heart at all. When Dad was tired, the pale scar on his forehead from when he was a little kid and rode his bike through a glass door bulged a bit, as if a worm had gotten under his skin. It did that now. I wondered if Mom and Dad had been up all night again, talking about Aaron, worrying about him.
“I’m human,” I reminded Dad.
He looked at me then and smiled. “As human as they come,” he said.
“I love you, Dad,” I burst out. I hugged him. I reached up and touched his scar and then his beard gently, the way I’d seen Mom do it. “I’m not so sure about Mom and Aaron. I guess I love them—but not as much.”
He didn’t correct me. He didn’t say, “Of course you love Mom and Aaron.” He gathered me in his arms and squeezed me tight. He said, “I love you, too, Beautiful.”
Copyright © 2018 by Laura Geringer Bass
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