A Heart in a Body in the World

by Deb Caletti

Paperback, 2020





Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2020), Edition: Reprint, 384 pages


Followed by Grandpa Ed in his RV and backed by her brother and friends, Annabelle, eighteen, runs from Seattle to Washington, D.C., becoming a reluctant activist as people connect her journey to her recent trauma.


Original language


Physical description

384 p.; 8.25 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member EdGoldberg
Something traumatic has happened to Annabelle Agnelli and almost a year later, she is still not over it. Thoughts crop up at unpredictable intervals, such as when she's ordering burgers and fries at Dick's. The thoughts take over and she runs and runs and runs. That short run turns into a long
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run...a run from Seattle, Washington to Washington, D.C.

Annabelle doesn't know why she wants to run to D.C., a cross country feat accomplished by only a handful of people. She fells helpless and maybe by running across the United States she'll feel lest hopeless. Her mother, Gina, can't talk her out of it.

Then her friends and her younger computer whiz brother rally around her and her Grandfather, Ed, volunteers to drive cross country in his RV to make sure she's safe, and the plan falls into place.

A Heart in a Body in the World waits until the very last to let readers know what the trauma was, but astute readers will figure it out about two thirds of the way; through the book. Deb Caletti, initially known for Honey, Baby, Sweetheart describes the inner turmoil Annabelle feels throughout the journey, both in miles and in healing. As Annabelle traverses the country, she begins to realize that there are thousands of young women who have felt some degree of the helplessness and anger that Annabelle feels.

I admit, I did get a little teary towards the end although I don't think that was Caletti's intent. Her intent was to shows that girls, people need to be strong, that they can overcome adversity, that they can act and they have a voice. I hope young girls everywhere read this book and learn from it.
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LibraryThing member krau0098
I got this through the Amazon Vine program to review. This was a very well done book about a high school senor that survives a horrible tragedy but is still having trouble coping. She ends up just running in an effort to deal with it and decides to run from Seattle to Washington DC. Initially she
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is convinced that she caused the tragedy and has a ton of survivor’s guilt.

This was an interesting read. It's well written and engaging. I loved learning about what someone has to go through physically and mentally to run that long and that hard. I also enjoyed how the population of the US rallied behind the heroine and her goal.

This is an emotionally tough read, it will make you laugh and cry. I am glad I read it but couldn't read something this intense all the time! The book is mainly set in the present while Annabelle runs, but while running she has flashbacks to her past that reveal what happened to her.

Overall this was a fantastic read that really makes you think about our society’s attitudes and the increasing levels of violence. I would recommend to those who enjoy contemporary YA fiction about inspiring heroines struggling against great odds.
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LibraryThing member BillieBook
I wrote a review, but Goodreads ate it.

I finally mustered the courage to finish this after picking it up and starting it umpteen times. I just wasn't in the mental or emotional place to keep going with it. Even when I made the choice to start again and finish it this time, dammit, I wasn't in the
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right place, but I realized that I probably wouldn't be in the right place until sometime in 2020, if even then. So I powered through. And I cried through the whole thing. I saw tragedy coming, though I didn't know exactly what form that tragedy would take. And I saw Annabelle's hurt and guilt and self-blame and I recognized them, though I've been lucky to not have experienced anything quite as devastating as what she did. I know that guilt and self-blame because I am a woman in this world and we are all conditioned from an early age to be made to feel accountable for the actions of the men around us. If we are nice to them, we are leading them on. If we dress a certain way, we are distracting or arousing or encouraging them. If we flirt, we must want sex. If we err, we are asking for punishment. So I read this book wanting to tell Annabelle that what happened wasn't her fault, but knowing that she wouldn't be able to hear it. Watching her finally, finally start to put the blame where it belonged and to make something good out of something so awful was beautiful.

And my apologies (but not really) to those of you to whom I recommended this book before finishing it. I didn't lie, though, did I?
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LibraryThing member muddyboy
Frankly, much of this book is equally as vague and confusing as the title. On the surface we have an honorable plot. A teenage girl suffers a major trauma in her life and tries to overcome her depression by a cross country run across the United States to Washington D. C. She is aided by her R V
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driving grandfather and other family and friends. But, the writing is very confusing. Present time to flashbacks (constantly) with no transitions. Imaginings interspersed with real life and back without transitions. There is much choppy dialogue with vague cloudy writing.
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LibraryThing member ShellyPYA
Followed by Grandpa Ed in his RV and backed by her brother and friends, Annabelle, eighteen, runs from Seattle to Washington, D.C., becoming a reluctant activist as people connect her journey to her recent trauma.
LibraryThing member electrascaife
High school senior Annabelle decides to deal with a recent tragedy in her life by running from Seattle to D.C. with the help of her grandpa, who follows her in his RV, and her friends and family, who set up GoFundMe pages and handle the PR side of things. The novel is a chronicle of her journey,
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both physical and mental/emotional as she works through the deep anxiety and depression brought on by what she's endured.
This is one of those I-Wanted-To-Like-It-So-Much-More-Than-I-Did books, sadly. The subject (gun violence and its toll on young people) is so important right now, and I love that there are YA books out there trying to deal with it, but this one fell short for me. Two main things made me not absolutely love it: 1) the actual Tragedy isn't revealed right away, but is instead teased throughout the book, so that the reader only gets hints of it up until nearly the very end. I get that this is a device used to make the reader's experience mirror Annabelle's shyness about dealing with what's happened and her gradual growth into a strength that allows her to face the past, but it's drawn out too much here, so much so that I felt toyed with: okay, okay, I get that we don't get to know what happened just yet; I don't need constant reminders that I'm not allowed to know; 2) Annabelle suffers from some pretty intense anxiety issues, which makes sense based on the character Caletti builds and what she's experienced, but this, too, feels like it suffers from Beaten Dead Horse Syndrome. Again, I get that it's an important part of the story, but I think it needed a lighter touch. As it stands, it bogs down the plot movement and becomes more distracting than helpful. In the end, it's a good story and an important one, but it just trips over itself a bit getting there.
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LibraryThing member Hccpsk
One of the often-heard complaints about young adult literature is the tendency to sensationalize and bluntly overstate the social issues of the day. I definitely succumb to the ugh-not-another-book-about… syndrome at times, and gun violence books are filling that role for me right now. So I
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approached A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti with more than a little wariness as I contemplated the subject and the horrible title. The incredibly confusing and honestly boring start did not do the book any favors, but a bit of perseverance for this one saved the day. A Heart in a Body manages to be an entertaining, thoughtful and well-done book that explores those left behind after a violent attack. For reasons that unfold as the book continues, Annabelle flees from a fast food restaurant in her hometown of Seattle and begins to run--figuratively and literally. The story follows her journey across the country from Seattle to Washington as flashbacks fill in the backstory along the way. When it finally gets going A Heart in a Body has a lot to like, and readers who enjoy typical YA tropes--romance, high school drama, quirky family/friends, topical political issues with a bit of sadness mixed in--will definitely appreciate this novel.
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LibraryThing member BDartnall
"Then... Annabelle's life wasn't perfect, but it was full...full of friends, family, love. And a boy...whose attention Annabelle found flattering and unsettling all at once. Until that attention intensified.
Now... Annabelle is running. Running from the pain and the tragedy of the past year. With
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only Grandpa Ed and the journal she fills with words she can't speak out loud, Annabelle runs from Seattle to Washington D.C., and toward a destination she doesn't understand but is determined to reach. With every beat of heart, every stride of her feet, Annabelle steps closer to healing--and the strength she discovers within herself to let love and hope back into her life. Annabelle's journey is the ultimate testament to the human heart, and how it goes on after being broken. " - back cover summary
Aspects of the book I really enjoyed: the NW Washington setting, even details of Roosevelt High, the rest of the Puget Sound area (a few insider digs at Bellevue "East siders") and the geography of this young woman's journey across the U.S.
The Italian American aspects of Annabelle's family & the warmth /cheer of each member
The reality of a long distance runner's physical challenges and brutal realities - way beyond blisters!
Annabelle's voice - so real it hurt
Aspects of the book that were difficult or alternately annoying...but sometimes built suspense:
the unknown nature of Annabelle's "crisis"- her emoting in the beginning chapters make the reader uneasy, but few clues are given -feels like a gimmick
the "Taker" and his identity is dealt whit in such a coy manner; it was a relief to finally match a name to him by second half of book
the flashbacks - stopping at just a very specific moment - so you cannot get complete understanding of her specific episode/memory from the recent past
Nevertheless, when I gave it the time to read in a couple long chunks to the end - wow. It was such a warm hearted and sympathetic story - you're rooting for the protagonist, Annabelle, and all her "team" by the end.
Fans of A.S. King or Hopkins or Laurie H Anderson (Gayle Forman writes one of the key endorsements) will appreciate this - an Evergreen Bk Award nominee of 2020.
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LibraryThing member readingbeader
How can you go on after a tragedy? How can your heart bear it? After an incident at a restaurant that reminds Annabelle of a horrible event in her near past, she takes off running. Literally, she runs across the country. Along the way she struggles with her body, emotions, memories, and other
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people's expectations. But when she allows herself to get angry...she becomes powerful.

"It's a harrowing adrenaline blend, being fearless and afraid at the same time." p. 93
"It's hard to be all that you can be on carrot sticks and criticism." p. 94
"Music and books stir up emotions. They make feelings rise up and clatter and wreck, and sometimes that's dangerous. But music can make you rise up and clatter and destroy when you need to, too" p. 157

4.5 stars
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LibraryThing member jmchshannon
Anyone who has ever read one of Deb Caletti's novels knows that they are going to read something spectacular and highly relevant to modern society. This is especially true of her young adult novels. In A Heart in a Body in the World, Ms. Caletti channels all of the confusion, guilt, and fear
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associated with being a young woman in a society that sends extremely mixed messages about women. She does so in a way that will tear your heart and shines a light on your own fears and confusion.

When Annabelle makes the decision to run across the country, from Seattle to DC, you know she is not only running away from something but towards something equally painful. Her journey is not only her path towards redemption and acceptance but also one of punishment. As any journey tends to do, Annabelle not only learns about herself but also learns more about society and the same fear and confusion that fills her with such dread.

However, Annabelle's story is one only she can tell. For me to give anything away would be to undermine Ms. Caletti's careful construction. You need to experience Annabelle's emotions as she wrestles with them and feel her fatigue as she struggles to continue her journey. As you do, you find yourself ruminating about similar experiences and must also come to terms with what it means to be a woman in this day and age.

As always, Ms. Caletti's words loudly resonate with the reader. It does not matter that her heroine is eighteen years old. Ms. Caletti knows exactly what it feels like to enter a world where men consider beautiful women to be their right and property and where young women first learn of the unspoken "fine line" between flirting and "leading men on".

Annabelle's journey brings about many emotions, the least of which are the ones she feels. And therein lies Ms. Caletti's skill as a writer. A Heart in a Body in the World is one more example of how carefully Ms. Caletti highlights the issues with society and its impact on young women just learning to navigate its perils. If you have not done so already, Ms. Caletti is an author you must read.
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LibraryThing member kimpiddington
Gripping tale of life after loss and tragedy.
LibraryThing member kevn57
I decided to read this when I found out that it was a fictional account of running across America, I had read a few non-fiction books about the feat and really enjoyed them so I wanted to see what the writer had to say about this in a fictional universe.
But as the book unfolded I discovered that
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it was about something much more important, gun violence and the harm it does not just to the gunshot victims but to the survivors as well. As seen through the eyes of a young woman about to graduate high school, who'd lost her best friend and her boy friend.
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LibraryThing member Dairyqueen84
Wow. This book packs a wallop on so many levels combining important contemporary issues in a seamless way. All of the characters are so well drawn even secondary characters. Can't wait to share this with my students in the fall.
LibraryThing member jennybeast
Ok, so this is not my ideal genre -- emotions! boys! teen life! Contemporary stuff, no magic.

That said:

This is a very timely novel, about gun violence and the control of women. The tension of the story is masterfully drawn out over the course of the book -- who is Seth? Where is Kat? Is Belle
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going to jail? It lays out the details gradually like a line of treats.

It's hard to put down, because tension, because Annabelle is a fully fleshed character who is all kinds of messed up and we don't know if she can/will heal.

A tiny thing that vaguely troubled me:

I am a Seattle-ite. I LOVED all the local details that are spot on (there are many, many). Greenwood Market closed in 2012, so that stood out as a jarring detail.

Advanced reader's copy provided by Edelweiss.
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LibraryThing member OnniAdda
Disclaimer. This book has a lot of triggers. It casts a long and heavy shroud over every event in the book, which makes every emotionally taut-filled like a never-ending sense of anguish and foreboding lurking around each corner. This book was a lot. There were so many complex societal issues
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crammed within this book like gender roles and expectations, sexual assault, gun violence, PTSD, activism, dealing with grief and so much more. Most of these topics I felt were short-changed by the ambiguous nature of how the trauma is presented to the reader. What exactly caused the trauma is only revealed at the end of the book, which unfortunately does a disservice to the overall message. A message that is probably still very unclear to me, if I am being honest with myself. I sympathize with Annabelle a lot but I did not feel it necessary to turn her tragedy into a psychological mystery. Every vague recollection of the past or observation of the future felt like I was being pulled into two different directions. Either I was constantly feeling targeted and regulated into the constraints of a world in the wake of the Me Too movement. Or do I have to constantly live in terror and anticipation for the next mass shooting? It was an exhausting experience just trying to finish reading this book. If you had a different experience than mine, great. This book just wasn't for me.
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