Annie runs barefoot with Max, her neighbour, and sits with her grandfather who doesn’t leave the house much anymore. She jokes with her mom and dad about the alien baby which grows into a pumpkin baby which grows into the baby they welcome into the world. Except Max joins the track team and Annie doesn’t want to. She knows herself well, she runs for the joy of it and doesn’t understand race mentality, although the coach who wants her to join the team thinks she’s scared. And this is where the book is truly beautiful. Annie masterfully answers the coach, because she knows the coach needs to win, while still maintaining the integrity of her running philosophy. Like one hundred different drawings of the same apple, Annie sees variations and perspectives that show something we might not have seen on our own.
Sharon Creech’s Heartbeat is truly a novel-in-verse, meaning it’s a story I can’t imagine being told any other way.
For teachers, here’s a discussion guide to several of Sharon Creech’s books.