Henry Page has led a fairly uneventful life; his young life’s ambition is to be editor of his high school newspaper and eventually get into a good college. Then the aloof Grace Town comes walking (limping?) into his life using a cane, wearing oversized boys’ clothing and keeping mostly to herself. The two of them are named co-editors of the newspaper and because this is a work of YA Henry finds himself falling for the mysterious manic pixie dream girl.
Like any good MPDG worth her salt Grace is full of strange quirks. She has a car that she allows Henry to drive but she won’t get behind the wheel herself. She wears boyish clothes and smells like mens’ cologne but she is overtly made up in her Facebook profile picture. She also has secret hideouts like an abandoned building with a basement full of fish.
Grace Town was a chemical explosion inside my heart. She was a star that’d gone supernova. For a few fleeting moments there was light and heat and pain, brighter than a galaxy, and in her wake she left nothing but darkness. But the death of stars provides the building blocks of life. We’re all made of star stuff. We’re all made of Grace Town.
Our Chemical Hearts is not a particularly great novel but it is pretty good John Green fan-fiction. Unfortunately one of the things Green does best is where Sutherland falls shortest- writing the best friends to our protagonist. Green is a master at making realistic secondary characters and unfortunately Henry’s besties, a caricature of an Australian and a token lesbian whose defining characteristic is she came out shortly after kissing Henry years ago, fail to hit the right notes. Overall the roll out of Grace’s secret is written well and you don’t spend an overwhelming amount of time having “get off my lawn” thoughts about the teenage shenanigans being had.