Ashley Herring Blake: The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James (Little, Brown & Company 2020)
When Sunny St. James gets a new heart, she decides that her life will be different from this moment on. She makes a plan: 1) she will do amazing things she never dared to or cannot do before; 2) find a new best friend; and 3) she finally kisses a boy. But when she executes the first two steps of her plan, with the help of her new best friend Quinn, Sunny questions whether she really wants to kiss a boy. The situation is complicated by the return of her mother, who left her daughter with her best friend 8 years ago because she was an alcoholic. Now she also wants to start a new life. Meanwhile, Sunny starts writing songs to process what is happening inside and around her.
This is a very sensitively and beautifully written novel about self-acceptance. Sunny has to get to know her mother, whom she has only dreamed of until now, but at the same time she has to think about what Kate means to her, who raised her and was by her side every day. The creative process plays an important role in the novel through Sunny’s songs. However, the book’s most important question is what defines who we are. Sunny can live because someone died, she is also concerned about whether she is still herself if her heart belongs to someone else. In the past, even before her illness, the girl sometimes wondered what it would be like to kiss a girl, but she was teased for it, so she decides to be different with her new heart and only wants to kiss boys. But can you deny yourself?
Ashley Herring Blake is an award-winning author and teacher. She loves coffee, cats, melancholic songs and cheerful books. In addition to her romantic books for adults and young adults, she also published middle grade novels where LGBTQIA+ contents play important role. She is a co-editor of the YA romance anthology Fools in Love. She currently lives with her family on an island off the coast of Georgia.