A Heart in a Body in the World is about Annabelle, a girl who has experienced a horrific trauma. One day, fed up, she takes off running- and she doesn’t stop. It blooms into a plan: run from Washington State, to Washington D.C. 2,700 miles. Followed by her adorable grandfather in his RV for support and a place to sleep.
I read a few other reviews of this novel, specifically the negative ones. One thing that stood out is that people saw Annabelle as literally running away from her problems. Now, I just didn’t see this. AT. ALL. Did we read a different book? Through Annabelle, I’d argue we learn that you can’t run from your problems because they live inside our heads. Every day, running, left with only her thoughts, she’s left to replay the events leading up to that night. I think running gave her the opportunity to process what has happened to her, and come to terms with it. From the beginning she knew there would be an end to her run where she would go back to her life and have to deal with the aftermath everything- there was no escaping it, was no running away forever. The way Caletti was able to portray this this process of grief and overcoming was beyond powerful.
Without spoiling too much, because I think it’s better to go into without knowing what Annabelle has experienced, this book delves into a woman’s right to say “no” and how sometimes that right can put her in very real danger. If you’ve ever known anybody who’s acted like they are owed you, you’re time, or attention this book will scream to your experiences. You will feel for Annabelle when she feels she has to act polite despite unwanted attention. And you will hate society for engraving the concept of politeness into women, and the fear of being seen as a Bitch.
Obviously, I was a huge fan of this book. It broke my heart, it made me cry, and it was so so relevant. The side characters were all adorable; there’s even a little side story for the grandfather that just made my heart happy (it was kind of a light in all the dark). Her brother supportive, and the people she meets along the way help propel her forward. Now, if violence triggers you, then I’d probably stay away from this one. There’s a scene toward the end of the book that’s very violent when it’s finally revealed exactly what has happened. But I’m not going to give away more than that, so if you’re iffy go on Goodreads and there are some reviews that’ll have the triggers listed prominently. But, if you think you can handle it please go into it mostly blind- and pick it up immediately!