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Review: About Griffen’s Heart by Tina Shaw

What is it?

A photo of the book About Griffen’s Heart by Tina Shaw

About Griffen’s Heart by Tina Shaw

First published 2009

A New Zealand, young adult contemporary novel.

The Back Cover Blurb

James Griffen is not the bravest guy around. That’s not surprising — he’s on the waiting list for open heart surgery, and scared witless. Mostly he putters about on his Vespa and hangs out at the local video store.

His rebel brother Ryan, whose motto is never going to be “safety first”, needs some sorting out, but James can’t get that right either.

Then James meets the gorgeous Roxy and all caution goes to the wind — in spite of the thrashing of his heart.


What I thought

I had high hopes for this book when I grabbed it off the library shelf. As always, I had the kids with me, so I didn’t have a lot of time. The blurb made it sound interesting (a bit of romance, a bit of brotherly bonding, life and death stakes) and the voice in the first chapter started off so good.

It went downhill so fast.

I read this book in about a hour thanks to the judicious application of skimming, waiting for something interesting and not skeezy to happen. I always hate declaring books to be “good” or “bad” because that’s so subjective once you get past those generally-accepted rules for grammar and structure, but this really didn’t work for me.

Griffen is crushing hard on Roxy, the hottest girl in school who is too damn cool to care about anything, including Griffen. Why does he crush on her? you ask. It is her stunning personality? Their shared interested?


Of course not.

She’s hot. That’s it.

And she’s so out of his league that whenever she deigns to glance in his direction, he gets a total hard on. And then he stalks her like a total creeper. And then she gets with his brother because of course she does.

So, let’s make a tally, shall we?

  1. A bit of romance — creepy stalker doesn’t get the girl.
  2. Brotherly bonding — they hate each other at the start, hate each other in the middle, hate each other at the end. No development or growth.
  3. Life and death stakes — couldn’t care less.

And then, just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, Griffen declares: “Call me sexist, but I haven’t met a girl yet who could play chess properly.” (p.163)

Okay, you’re sexist. And a creep.

Did he learn anything? Who knows. And history seems set to repeat when the chess-playing girl has the misfortune of becoming the latest target of his lust, and an invitation to play is taken as encouragement. Her feelings towards him (if any) don’t seem to be relevant.

And I haven’t even mentioned the almost entirely despicable overweight character.

Okay, that turned into more of a rant than I meant it to. Normally I’d try to focus on the positive, or not talk about it at all, but this book left such a bad taste in my mouth.