Center for Children's Literature Blog

Children’s Book Committee – April 2019 Pick

A Heart In A Body In The World
Author: Deb Caletti

Annabell, 17, embarks on a cross-country run from Seattle to Washington DC in an attempt to outrun the pain from a terrible tragedy. Colorful illustrations and photos.

Our Young Reviewer Says:

A Heart In A Body In The World, by Deb Caletti, chronicles Annabelle Agnelli’s cross-country run from Seattle to Washington DC after she experiences a terrible tragedy. The story begins with a compelling narrative; simple yet deliberate, Caletti creates a text which one cannot relinquish. There are many words to describe this book; heart-wrenching; authentic; touching; but the one that I believe fits most is beautiful. The writing is beautiful, the facts regarding the subject of the book, the human heart, at the beginning of each chapter are beautiful. Yet what makes this book so truly incredible are the characters. In three hundred and fifty-five pages, Caletti creates an indelible personality. Annabelle is not merely relatable; she is a friend, she is a human being. I have never before so clearly understood a person and their motivations; never have I known a character so well.

Caletti’s novel is strikingly relevant in a country that is grappling with massacres such as Parkland and Columbine; it provides a narrative that is not one of the activist, it is one of an individual who has found herself in the spotlight, yet only wishes to mourn. Near the end of the book, when giving a speech on what had happened, protagonist Annabelle says of the nation, “It has not shown me that it will protect me, from males more powerful than me, from people who hate and intend to do harm. It has shown me that I am less than, that I am not worth being protected. It has shown recklessness with my well-being.”

A Heart In A Body In The World is a beautiful reflection on the world today, in a world that stands by during tragedies, but also a world with people like Annabelle Agnelli, like Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, who use their voices because, as Caletti writes, one’s voice is “the only thing you have sometimes when someone or something is larger and more powerful than you.”

– Jane, 14 years old, New York, NY.

Young people who are interested in reviewing are invited to do so as we welcome the individual perspective of our age appropriate readers. If you are interested in being a reviewer, contact

See our past monthly picks.