February 7, 2012

Review: Heart on a Chain by Cindy C Bennett

This is what happens when you follow so many book lovers on Twitter. You start to snoop in on conversations about books and end up buying them. I’m not complaining, though, it’s a great way to discover stories that otherwise would go unnoticed. Thanks to Katie (aka KT Grant) for indirectly recommending this book to me.

I’m having a hard time rating this book. Just based on entertainment value it deserves a high grade because I found it addictive and engrossing, I couldn’t stop reading. However, it’s seriously flawed. If you want to enjoy the book your BS-meter has to be turned off or else you won’t handle how over the top and extreme this book is.

Henry and Kate were best friends their whole life. When they were in sixth grade their friendship developed into something deeper but Henry moved away leaving Kate alone. Six years later Henry is back but things have dramatically changed. Kate’s life became a living hell: her drug addict mother is volatile, extremely violent and abusive; her father is an alcoholic and is seldom at home, and when he is he either ignores what’s going or beats his wife; and at school she is a pariah, everyone bullies her, she’s afraid to do or say the wrong thing and she keeps to herself as much as she can. Now Henry is back and Kate is sure that the kind boy she used to know is now another tormentor, so even though he tries to talk to her, she just ignores him and even hides from him. 

We know that Henry is good and means well, but Kate has a ton of reasons to be dubious and so he has a lot of work to do. Slowly he wins her over and Kate finds a safe haven in Henry. They rekindle their friendship and soon fall in love with each other. But things are bad and soon get worse, so when Kate finds herself in trouble and in need of help she turns to Henry, who doesn’t even realize that Kate’s troubles go beyond school bullying.

This is drama at its best. Here we have a girl who is being tortured by everyone around her -and since she is the narrator we get to see in painful detail how bad things are-. She doubts everything, any act of kindness must be concealing something mean that will soon follow, she keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop, she eats in the floor because she’s afraid of sitting at a table and she gets beaten constantly both at home and at school. But suddenly this dreamy, perfect guy comes to save the day. He is popular, beautiful and in love with her. He helps her, actively pursues hers, and defends her. He is the personification of a knight in shining armor. Personally, I love stories like this one where the heroine is the underdog and the hero is the popular prince. It's like a retelling of the Cinderella story, if Cinderella was beaten by everyone, including the cute little animals and the Fairy Godmother.

I don’t want to go into details as to not spoil the story, but the things that happened to her were unbelievable not because violence like that isn’t real, but because no one noticed it. She ate on the floor, she was beaten on a regular basis both at home and at school, she was hungry, and yet no one saw it? Where were the teachers? How could they not see what was in front of their eyes? And then you get to the twists, turns and revelations, and that's when the real WTFckery begins. 

Kate was a contradiction. She was both weak and strong, but to be honest I didn’t see how it was possible for her to have the energy to fight.

“Besides being starved, sometimes for days on end?” I ask, caustically. “Or do you mean other than being forced to stand in a corner for hours at a time? Or there’s always the classic forcing me to sit in the closet for a few days, knowing that when she let me out I would be beaten, because it’s impossible to go that long without going to the bathroom. Also, I don’t suppose it’s normal to get hit, pinched, slapped or kicked for breathing the wrong way.”

That’s how extreme the abuse was. Henry was perfect, too perfect. At this point I wasn’t expecting much realism, and since he was the only good thing to happen to Kate I was glad he was so good, but in real life no one is that supportive, or maybe they are, but they also have parents that freak out when their son gets so close to someone in so much trouble. The parents in this book don’t call the cops when their son’s friend gets beaten to a pulp, and then invite her to spend Christmas in Florida with them.

It sounds like a pretty awful book, right? Well it’s not. If you’re sensitive to violence and abuse, then run for the hills, but if you can handle it and you like drama and angst, then you must read it because it’s as entertaining as it gets. I cried, and cried, and cried, then snorted when the plot got ridiculous, and then cried some more. There’s a happy ending that was pleasantly surprising in its realism, especially after all the craziness, and I liked it.

It’s flawed and slightly crazy, but I loved it! Read it knowing what you’re getting into and enjoy it for what it is. I’m giving it a 3 because it’s far from perfect, but I do recommend it.

Review by Brie
Grade: 3
Sensuality: McPrude (Just kisses, but lots of violence so careful)


17-year-old Kate has lived her whole life in abject poverty, with an alcoholic father and drug-addicted mother, who severely abuses Kate. At school, her second-hand clothing marks her as a target. Her refusal to stand up for herself makes her the recipient of her classmates taunts and bullying. That is, until Henry returns. Henry Jamison moved away six years earlier, just as he and Kate had begun to develop feelings for one another. He returns to find the bright, funny, outgoing girl he had known now timidly hiding in corners, barely speaking to anyone around her, suspicious of even him. Kate can't figure out what game Henry is playing with her - for surely it is a game. What else would the gorgeous, popular boy from her past want with her? Kate finally decides to trust Henry's intentions, opening her heart to him. Just when it seems he might be genuine in his friendship, tragedy strikes, threatening everything Kate has worked so hard to gain. Can Henry help her to overcome this new devastation, or will it tear them apart forever?

CreateSpace. December 22, 2010.


  1. This sounds...crazy, lol. I may look into getting this one, not sure though. Thanks for the review, Brie!

    1. Hi Jess!

      It is kind of crazy, but I think you will like it. Give it a try, the Kindle version isn't that expensive and the book is very entertaining.

  2. OOoh this sounds like one I would not enjoy. All of the circumstances would get on my nerves. I can see myself rolling my eyes at the shenanigans of this book. Thanks for the review. I know this is one I need to pass up.

    1. You know I love damaged characters! LOL Not for everyone, though. Next I'll review a happier book, promise. ;-)

  3. I want a Henry!! I loved, LOVED Kate and Henry's relationship and how he wasn't a typical jerk like in most the YA's I've read and showed how stable and loving his home life was.

    If the author had just toned down the over the top abuse Kate suffered, then this would have been one of the best books I've read to start 2012 off.

    I look forward to more from Bennett and so happy I can help you in your book addiction. Muah.

    1. OMG! The first thing I did after finishing this book was buy Geek Girl. Did you read that one? The heroine is a Goth and the hero is a nerdy nerd. It looks awesome. The heroine is just as tormented as Kate and the hero looks soooo sweet. I'm hooked to this author and her over the top awesomeness. You can keep the recs coming, I'm not complaining.

    2. Geek Girl is just as good as Heart on a Chain. Hmm I may have to pick that one up.

  4. It's nice to see your take on this book, Brie. I've been wanting to read Geek Girl by this author. I hope the author does a better job with the realism in Geek Girl.

    I think one of the problem in today's society is people don't get involved. They see, but they do nothing :(

    1. I'm reading Geek Girl now and I think is much more realistic. The heroine wasn't abuse (at least as far as I've read) and she hides her fears behind a mask. I think she is more complex than Kate. And I just hit the 33% mark and I haven't cringed once ;-)

    2. That's good to hear, Brie. I'll wait for your review then :)


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