Book Reviews

Review: Beating Heart Baby by Lio Min

Beating Heart Baby is a book that I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it absolutely surprised me. In the best way. It’s an emotional story about second chances, love, and forgiveness. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


When artistic and sensitive Santi arrives at his new high school, everyone in the wildly talented marching band welcomes him with open arms. Everyone except for the prickly, proud musical prodigy Suwa, who doesn’t think Santi has what it takes to be in the band.

But Santi and Suwa share painful pasts, and when they open up to each other, a tentative friendship begins. And soon, that friendship turns into something more. . . .

Will their fresh start rip at the seams as Suwa seeks out a solo spotlight, and both boys come to terms with what it’ll take, and what they’ll have to let go, to realize their dreams?


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: homophobia, panic attack, transphobia, racism, misgendering, SC child abuse

Beating Heart Baby is a book about questions, secrets, and mysteries in our lives, in our pasts, that we carry with us. It’s also about a love of music, friends that uplift us and are there for us, and the support of family. All of the emotional highs and low points are woven throughout Beating Heart Baby. It can be hard to make new friends, to be vulnerable with someone, but Beating Heart Baby examines that fear. Of being able to letting our family members into our lives – while also recognizing their limitations and what the relationship has to offer.

How we make and lose friends. How it feels to be seen, but also to hurt someone. I loved how the first part of the book was narrated by Santi and the other half by Suwa. The friendships formed, and developed in Beating Heart Baby are exquisite and heartfelt. And speaking of characters, Santi and Suwa are fantastic complex diasporic teens. Watching them open up to each other, for their relationship to bloom and develop, is one of the joys of Beating Heart Baby. This book, at time, felt emotionally raw, but also a warm hug personified.

It’s about the mistakes we make, the way the past won’t let us go. Beating Heart Baby is one of those gems. Confronted with our dreams, it’s scary because what next? What if they’re not what we thought? If we lose them again? Beating Heart Baby is a testament to the power representation can have, but also the scariness of being that representation. Beating Heart Baby is an emotional triumph and 100% should be on your TBR. Find Beating Heart Baby on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


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