Foreword Reviews

Hearts Unbroken

2018 INDIES Winner
Silver, Young Adult Fiction (Children's)

When Louise Wolfe’s boyfriend makes disparaging comments about Native people, she breaks up with him. After all, she is part of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and proud of it. But in the small Kansas town her family has lived in for just over a year, she finds that prejudice is quietly prevalent. When the school musical, The Wizard of Oz, is cast with several nonwhite students in leading roles, those prejudices quickly get much louder.

Hearts Unbroken is a thoughtful story about racism in small-town America. Louise, who writes for the school newspaper, and her younger brother Hughie, who earns the role of the Tin Man in the play, find themselves at the center of the controversy surrounding the inclusive casting. They even receive anonymous notes telling them to get out of Kansas.

Louise is also falling for a boy named Joey who works with her on the school paper. Joey is Lebanese, and though he is also subject to discrimination and stereotypes, Louise is hesitant to get too involved, fearing that she will be hurt if he cannot accept her Native ethnicity.

Many kinds of prejudice are shown, and Louise is not always certain how to respond. This insightful, complex take on a difficult topic also explores questions of how to appreciate art like The Wizard of Oz, whose author, L. Frank Baum, was himself outspokenly racist. Even considering its seriousness, the novel is fun to read, with charming characters and a nicely balanced teen romance.

Thought-provoking and engaging, Hearts Unbroken will leave its young adult audience with a great deal to consider.

Reviewed by Catherine Thureson

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the publisher for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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