Review: Beating Heart Baby by Lio Min

Beating Heart Baby

Beating Heart Baby
Lio Min
Flatiron Books
Published July 26, 2022

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Beating Heart Baby

Lio Min’s Beating Heart Baby is an “achingly romantic” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) love letter to internet friendships, anime, and indie rock.

When artistic and sensitive Santi arrives at his new high school, everyone in the wildly talented marching band welcomes him with open arms. Everyone except for the prickly, proud musical prodigy Suwa, who doesn’t think Santi has what it takes to be in the band.

But Santi and Suwa share painful pasts, and when they open up to each other, a tentative friendship begins. And soon, that friendship turns into something more. . . .

Will their fresh start rip at the seams as Suwa seeks out a solo spotlight, and both boys come to terms with what it’ll take, and what they’ll have to let go, to realize their dreams?

Beating Heart Baby on Goodreads

My Review

I had to read the first chapter of this book twice because the first time, I felt like I didn’t understand what was going on. There are some music references and names that weren’t immediately familiar to me, so I wasn’t sure at first if they were characters or pop culture references. I ended up having to put the book aside for a couple of days for other reasons, but when I picked it up, I started reading again from the beginning. The second time through, I felt like I found my feet with the opening scene, and from there, I was hooked.

Both Santi and Suwa share their points of view in the story, but instead of alternating back and forth chapter by chapter, the first half of the book is Santi only. The second half is Suwa only. I don’t know if I’ve seen that done before, but I found that for this particular story, I really liked it.

I loved all the scenes of the marching band and how they learned to work together. And what becoming part of their team meant to Santi. I also loved the development of his relationship with Suwa and the way they got to know each other and grew together.

I also loved the performance and band scenes told from Suwa’s perspective. I felt like the story really captured the magic of performing and being part of a band without letting it get repetitive or distancing us from the characters.

On the whole, I’m incredibly glad I read this book. I think music fans, band nerds, and romance lovers will find a lot to love in BEATING HEART BABY. I think fans of Bill Konigsberg will enjoy it a lot.

Beating Heart Baby on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Suwa is trans and Asian. Santi is gay and Filipino on his mom’s side. There are other LGBTQIA side characters as well.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used somewhat frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between two boys. A couple scenes show undressing leading up to sex.

A powerful music executive comes on to Suwa, and he feels cornered and super creeped out. One person defends Suwa, but others kind of shrug it off, like that’s just the industry. Suwa’s boss does promise to keep him away from the creep though.

Spiritual Content
Santi wears a cross necklace and touches it or crosses himself sometimes. Some references to prayer.

Violent Content
Santi gets into a fight with another boy. References to his past trouble with fighting.

Drug Content
Teens drink alcohol and smoke pot and cigarettes.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of BEATING HEART BABY in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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