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When My Heart Joins the Thousand
Cover of When My Heart Joins the Thousand
When My Heart Joins the Thousand
Borrow Borrow

A heartbreaking debut YA romance featuring a neuroatypical girl with a tragic history and the chronically ill boy trying to break the vault encasing her heart.

Alvie Fitz doesn't fit in, and she doesn't care. She's spent years swallowing meds and bad advice from doctors and social workers. Adjust, adapt. Pretend to be normal. It sounds so easy.

If she can make it to her eighteenth birthday without any major mishaps, she'll be legally emancipated. Free. But if she fails, she'll become a ward of the state and be sent back to the group home.

All she wants is to be left alone to spend time with her friend, Chance, the one-winged hawk at the zoo where she works. She can bide her time with him until her emancipation. Humans are overrated anyway.

Then she meets Stanley, a boy who might be even stranger than she is—a boy who walks with a cane, who turns up every day with a new injury, whose body seems as fragile as glass. Without even meaning to, she finds herself getting close to him. But Alvie remembers what happened to the last person she truly cared about.

Her past stalks her with every step, and it has sharp teeth. But if she can find the strength to face the enemy inside her, maybe she'll have a chance at happiness after all.

A heartbreaking debut YA romance featuring a neuroatypical girl with a tragic history and the chronically ill boy trying to break the vault encasing her heart.

Alvie Fitz doesn't fit in, and she doesn't care. She's spent years swallowing meds and bad advice from doctors and social workers. Adjust, adapt. Pretend to be normal. It sounds so easy.

If she can make it to her eighteenth birthday without any major mishaps, she'll be legally emancipated. Free. But if she fails, she'll become a ward of the state and be sent back to the group home.

All she wants is to be left alone to spend time with her friend, Chance, the one-winged hawk at the zoo where she works. She can bide her time with him until her emancipation. Humans are overrated anyway.

Then she meets Stanley, a boy who might be even stranger than she is—a boy who walks with a cane, who turns up every day with a new injury, whose body seems as fragile as glass. Without even meaning to, she finds herself getting close to him. But Alvie remembers what happened to the last person she truly cared about.

Her past stalks her with every step, and it has sharp teeth. But if she can find the strength to face the enemy inside her, maybe she'll have a chance at happiness after all.

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About the Author-
  • A.J. Steiger has lived her entire life in the Chicagoland area. She's a graduate of Columbia College, where she majored in fi ction writing.
Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    November 1, 2017
    "Nutjob." "Robo-tard." "Weirdo." All of her life, 17-year-old orphan Alvie Fitz has dealt with name-calling and cruelty. At this point in time, Alvie, who is autistic, doesn't care about happiness. All that matters is convincing a judge she's emotionally, mentally, and financially ready for emancipation; she has her GED and has already been supporting herself for some time. If she can't, she'll spend the rest of her life in a group home as a ward of the state. Boundaries and routine make up the foundation of the protective wall Alvie's been building around herself since her mother died when she was 11, but 19-year-old college student Stanley Finkel shakes that foundation, gently and gradually forcing Alvie out of her comfort zone. Stanley also stands out in a world that doesn't easily accept people outside the mainstream. He was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a condition that results in bones that break easily, and uses a cane for support. Stanley doesn't erase the autism by ignoring it; he accepts it as part of her but doesn't define her by it. Alvie's first-person narration presents readers with a fully developed picture of a person with autism; she's frank, observant, and funny. The book's title is inspired by a line from Watership Down, a book Alvie turns to time and again because she identifies with the rabbits' plight to survive. All characters appear to be white.A gorgeous love story of depth and raw emotion that beautifully dismantles the ugly perceptions of autism. (Fiction. 14-adult)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    January 1, 2018

    Gr 10 Up-Alvie is 17. She enjoys her routine of working at the zoo, coming home to her apartment, playing on her laptop, and going to the park near her home. After running away from foster care, she has been living on her own and is eager to be legally emancipated. Sitting in the park one day, she sees a boy (Stanley) throw his cell phone into the pond. She rescues the phone, emails him, and an online friendship quickly develops. When Stanley wants to meet in person, Alvie asks him if they can have sex. Although nothing is consummated, a romantic relationship starts to build between them. When Stanley tells Alvie he loves her, she panics and cuts off contact with him. This sends her into a spiral, which ultimately results in her losing her job and becoming homeless. It is only after she reconnects with Stanley and faces the truth about her past that she can find happiness. Flashbacks to Alvie's childhood, her difficulties at school, and her relationship with her mother add depth and understanding to her character. Her meltdowns and behavioral quirks (an interest in rabbits, a love of the book Watership Down) add dimension to what is a fully realized portrayal of a person living with Asperger's. As her romantic foil, Stanley's character is initially a little too perfect, but as the story progresses it is made clear that he struggles with his own issues. This is a love story that could also appeal to adult readers. Their love is hard-fought and deservedly earned. VERDICT Recommended for all YA collections.-Kefira Phillipe, Nichols Middle School, Evanston, IL

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "A gorgeous love story of depth and raw emotion that beautifully dismantles the ugly perceptions of autism."
  • School Library Journal (starred review) "[Alvie's] meltdowns and behavioral quirks add dimension to what is a fully realized portrayal of a person living with Asperger's... This is a love story that could also appeal to adult readers. Their love is hard-fought and deservedly earned."
  • Cammie McGovern, author of Say What You Will "At last! A.J. Steiger's When My Heart Joins the Thousand offers a love story between two atypical characters with breathtaking honesty about all the messy aspects of real love—sex, compatibility, trust, and most of all, honesty."
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    HarperCollins
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A. J. Steiger
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