cover image Beating Heart Baby

Beating Heart Baby

Lio Min. Flatiron, $18.99 (352) ISBN 978-1-250-819093

Min’s debut is a luminous homage to music, art, and the power of found family. When 14-year-old Filipino Santiago Arboleda inadvertently causes his online best friend Memo’s song to go viral, Memo seemingly disappears from the internet, subsequently breaking Santi’s heart. Now 17, Santi has relocated to L.A. to join the Sunshowers, De Longpre High’s award-winning marching band. Though he’s swiftly absorbed into the rambunctious Sunshowers crowd, Santi is haunted by his past as he navigates a future filled with possibility upon meeting Japanese and Korean drum major Suwa Moon, a trans boy who finds Santi as annoying as Santi finds him enchanting. The narrative is split into two parts, mimicking sides of an album. Side A follows Santi’s heart-on-his-sleeve earnestness as he tries to atone for his mistakes; Side B features reserved Suwa’s stumbling efforts to carve his own path in the world. This achingly romantic novel features racially diverse and variously queer characters, each of whom is given ample space to develop. Min’s personal-feeling prose epitomizes the current age, in which lifelong bonds are forged through computer screens and group chats, emphasizing connection in its myriad forms. Ages 14–up. Agent: Dana Murphy, Book Group. (July)