Review: The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones (Spoiler-Free)
The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones broke my heart in the best way possible.
It’s an exciting story about a girl who sold her heart to a demon in order to escape her abusive household. However, this synopsis merely scratches the surface of the entire story. The protagonist, Dee, is one of four “heartless” in Portland, Oregon. Their mission, assigned by the Agathodaemon who took their hearts, is to close dangerous voids that could potentially let monsters into the world.
The story is filled with hilarious dialogue and exhilarating action scenes. Dee and James, another one of the “heartless”, must work together to close voids and save the world.
“‘...We’ll do whatever is takes. We’re heartless,’ [said Dee.]
“James looked over the destruction, and there was a twist to his mouth when he said, ‘‘This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a’ bad pun.’”
Another great aspect about this book is the incredible representation of both people of color and people that identify themselves as LGBTQ+. For example, Dee herself is half latina and her roomate, Gremma, is lesbian. While this is already amazing representation for a young adult book which sometimes lack diversity, the strongest form of representation is displayed through the character of Riley.
Riley is a girl who joins the group of “heartless” by selling her heart because her parents didn’t support her gender identity. She is a trans woman, and eventually her and Gremma fall for each other. This is incredible representation because media rarely portrays a healthy lesbian relationship that involves a transgender woman. It is so important to normalize all types of relationships and gender identities without making that the only important trait of a character. Lloyd-Jones did this perfectly by making Riley a fully fleshed-out character who just happened to be trans; being trans was not Riley’s sole characteristic.
Another aspect that was executed flawlessly in this book was the equal healthiness between platonic relationships and romantic relationships. Regarding platonic relationships, Gremma and Dee are a great example of a healthy girl friendship. In many young adult books, girl hate is a common trope and it is so rare to see a sister-like love through a great friendship in this genre of books. While they do have their fair share of arguments or falling out, their relationship never crosses the line of being unhealthy like in many young adult books.
The second healthy romantic relationship from this story involves the main character and her love interest. He is very supportive of Dee and genuinely cares about her.
Unfortunately, this is something that is not found in young adult books often enough. Much of the time there are tropey love triangles or unhealthy/abusive relationships thrown in to add “drama”, but it simply spreads horrible messages to any impressionable kids reading. They could start to think that that kind of relationship was normal.
Luckily, Lloyd-Jones made sure to include a very supportive and thoughtful love interest who allows for a healthy relationship to form.
Overall, I found this book to be an impactful story full of great representation. The ending was bittersweet, but not clichè, and it was the perfect end to this fantasy standalone.
Song I was reminded of while reading: All of Me