Smith, Lindsay. A Darkly Beating Heart. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2016.
Reiko has had a tough time. Her older brother has always treated her poorly, her classmates bullied her, and the girl she fell in love with dumped her for someone else.
After a family tragedy, she convinces her parents to send her to Japan to stay with family for the summer. But her cousin and her friends are just as mean as the kids back home. Reiko is filled with a rage she can barely control.
While visiting a historic village, Reiko finds a strange rock that transports her back to 1862, into the life of a young woman who’s even more mistreated. Miyu is full of hatred and Reiko loves living through her and planning a revenge fantasy, until she discovers the village’s secret and must find the courage to save the village and herself.
This book was interesting. I liked the science fiction aspect of time travel and body switching. Miyu’s story was fascinating and I liked how Reiko responded to it. I also appreciated that Reiko’s same-sex relationship isn’t particularly noteworthy; she doesn’t agonize over being bisexual, and her sexuality isn’t really a plot point, except insofar as her ruined relationship makes her angry.
I recommend A Darkly Beating Heart for fans of historical fiction and psychological distress in fiction.
Content note: There are several scenes discussing and describing self-injury.