At the start of her eighth-grade year, Briana's father suddenly dies due to a rare heart problem, and now all kinds of responsibilities rest on her shoulders. After her father's funeral at the synagogue, Briana's mother spends her days crying, sleeping, and wandering the house in her pajamas and blue slippers. Briana is now almost the sole caregiver to her 5-year-old brother, Aaron, who is on the autism spectrum. Abruptly, she is no longer just handling regular coming-of-age teenage angst, such as friends, crushes, and school activities, but helping fill in the gaps after her father's death. There are a lot of different topics covered in this book, but they never feel like too much, and they all fit into the scope of the plot. Bass tackles some heavy issues—having a sibling with a disability, losing a parent suddenly and at a young age, and coping with a parent's depression—but she manages to do it with grace and empathy. Readers will see Briana's understanding of her brother shift as she starts to really see him as opposed to what she feels he has cost her. This book is full of heartache and rare smiles, but that is because it is achingly real. —Kirkus
Note: Kirkus critics group THE GIRL WITH MORE THAN ONE HEART with “similar books": including Newbery Award winner WALK TWO MOONS by Sharon Creech and National Book Award winner MOCKINGBIRD by Kathryn Erskine
“An imaginative and emotionally riveting story of a courageous girl navigating her way through a stormy, bewildering time.” — Lore Segal, Pulitzer Prize finalist for Shakespeare’s Kitchen.
“Alive to the rhythms of love, loss, imagination, and friendships that define life at every age, this book will find its way into your heart and stay there.” —Myla Goldberg, New York Times bestselling author of Bee Season.
"In this tenderhearted tale, Bass (Sign of the Qin) conveys the complex, conflicting emotions that arise in a family facing the unexpected death of a parent. When Manhattan eighth grader Briana finds her father slumped over on his exercise bike, she feels a “second heart” form in her stomach. This heart communicates cryptic messages in her father’s voice (“Find her, said my Dad heart”) and sparks memories of life “Before Aaron,” her special-needs younger brother: “Aaron and I had two parents, but really we each had one.... Dad was mine.” Her mother’s grief-induced slide into depression forces Briana to assume responsibility for Aaron and cope with heartache, resentment, and fear, all while navigating the treacherous social dynamics of middle school. The narrative moves seamlessly between past and present and incorporates Greek myths, Briana’s “fractured fairy tales,” and Grandpa Ben’s tall tales, highlighting the power of storytelling to foster healing and strengthen relationships. Briana notes a parallel process between creativity and new friendship: “We were making it all up right there as we went along.” It’s an emotionally nuanced exploration of grief and resilience. Ages 8–12." —Publisher’s Weekly
"After Briana’s father dies of a heart attack, her mother withdraws into her bedroom and her grief. Grandpa Ben helps out, but it’s 13-year-old Briana who steps in, struggling to keep things normal while dealing with her difficult little brother and her own profound sense of loss. Since her father’s death, she has felt a new heart within her, speaking with Dad’s voice in cryptic phrases like “say goodbye” and “find her.” But Briana’s not ready to say goodbye to the parent she loves best. And she’s too angry with her mother to want to find her. Time brings changes: a new friend, a promise of romance, and a mother who takes charge of the family again, letting Briana be Briana. Bass excels in portraying the family members, their relationships, and how they shift when one person is no longer there. Incorporating extended flashbacks as well as brief messages from the second heart, Briana’s engaging first-person narrative is perceptive and brutally truthful about her all-too-human emotions and actions. A heartfelt story of loss, grief, and healing." — Booklist
"This is a wonderful book. The eighth-grade narrator, Briana, has just lost her adored father, and that leaves her a kind of orphan—because as far as she’s concerned, she lost her mother years earlier, when her brother, Aaron, arrived. Now she must take care of not only difficult Aaron, who’s on the autism spectrum, but also her mother, unmoored and depressed. Briana’s new heart—her “dad heart,” beating “deep in [her] belly, below [her] right rib”—speaks to her and provides flashbacks to happier times, many of them “before Aaron,” when she could still be a little girl, that provide a counterpoint to her current struggles and responsibilities. In one vivid scene after another, we see Briana explore her creativity, her compassion, and her ultimate realization that as much as she has lost, there is a way forward. The book is a moving journey of discovery for Briana—discovery of herself, in so many ways, but also of the meaning of friends, family, and a widening world and her resolute place in it.” —David Bumke, Goodreads, 5 stars
"Compassion and creative mastery unite in a compelling portrait of a family in a painful life transition. Following the sudden death of her dearly loved father and the grieving withdrawal of her mother, thirteen-year-old Briana finds herself torn by her own sadness and loss and the pressing demands of a younger brother on the spectrum. Rising to the occasion, Briana discovers hidden strengths. She imagines a new heart beats within her that speaks to her in her dad’s voice, serving as a rich source of creativity and inspiration. It offers her the wisdom she needs to face the unwanted challenges of being forced out of childhood too soon.” — Peter Hassinger, Goodreads, 5 stars
"Bass has written a timely, winning, resonant novel. The pleasures of this rich and beautiful book are manifold. By turns playful, tenderhearted, and yearning, her blend of gravity and invention tackles real-life issues, and strikes at the heart of today's complex lives. Brianna, the protagonist, is thrust into the realities of loss, sorrow, conflicting responsibilities, and new-found love. Bass's magical leaps of imagination coupled with richly textured detail, make an engrossing, satisfying read. This is a smart, lyrical, and empowering novel for young teens everywhere.” — Claudia Burbank, Goodreads, 5 stars
"This is an extraordinary book. The characters are wonderful 360 degree personalities who take you on their journey through grief and anger to healing and strength. I loved the relationships between the characters -- parent and child -- kid to kid -- I felt like I knew them. The path is profoundly real-life -- but also optimistic. It is a beautiful work -- I HIGHLY recommend!” — Kyle Zimmer, Goodreads, 5 stars
"This is a sensitive and poignant story of a young girl's journey through some of life's most challenging realities. By looking within herself, Briana finds her way with grace and dignity. I found this to be a moving and inspiring book for young, and not so young, adults. — Ken Sandbank, Goodreads, 5 stars
“I found this book to be a stunner! In this compelling, layered novel, Laura Geringer Bass takes us along with Briana, age 13 after losing her father suddenly…Woven with threads of ironic humor and soft persuasions of memory…it’s clearly a valuable read for adults as well as adults in the making…It’s an honest, fearless expression of the most private and sensitive needs one faces in loss at an age where developmental pressures are intense…Descriptions…are sweetly detailed, bold and authentic, allowing access to the parallel worlds of inner and outer experience…There’s a wonderful grandfather as an anchor along with Briana having to navigate a dawning understanding of her traumatized mother and a brother with unique, unsettled ways of being in the world. Midway through, events in the story came pouncing, like a cat you thought was asleep in another room. Highly recommended!" —J.L. Cooper, Goodreads, 5 stars.
"Eighth grader Briana has a lot on her plate. Her friends may not have her best interests at heart, she may have a crush on her best guy friend, and her brother’s emotional needs draw too much of her parents’ attention. Then her other problems are put in perspective when her father dies suddenly. She feels a second heart grow inside her which speaks with her father’s voice and acts as a conscience... Bass balances the coming-of-age narrative with a grief journey that sensitively and realistically shows how friendships and family relationships change after a tragedy. VERDICT Bass depicts grief with honesty and complexity. –Amelia Jenkins, Juneau Public Library, AK, School Library Journal
“This book is beautiful. It shows us how art, patience and love help us learn to deal with even the most profound loss.” —Brian Selznick, New York Times bestselling author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck.