Review (Plus): ‘American Heart’ by Laura Moriarty

America’s Bookshelf Blurb:

TSA has regulations in place because of our nation’s threatened security from 9-11—imagine a world where we place our human threats in internment camps to ensure our safety. Sarah-Mary finds she is helping a wanted Muslim escape safely to Canada despite her own political views and know how.

America’s Review:

Sarah-Mary of Hannibal, Missouri finds herself having to uphold a promise to her brother to help an estranged Muslim find safety and shelter outside the walls of the United States. In Laura Moriarty’s new book, American Heart, she explores the depth found within the walls of our hearts and shatters the illusion of safety.

Sarah-Mary and her brother have been repeatedly abandoned by their mother, so they live with their religious, overzealous aunt. Sarah-Mary is forced to go to a private Christian school where the administration enforces a strict dress-code and moral judgments upon everyone who doesn’t think and believe as they do. The outer world and the news around Sarah-Mary doesn’t concern her until the moment her brother makes her promise to help Sadaf: a wanted Muslim woman. Sarah-Mary is a disappointment to many, but to her brother she is his world. She would move mountains for that little man, and in promising to help her brother, she opens her heart to help a Muslim.

This story is told by Sarah-Mary as she makes her way from small town, white majority, Midwest USA to the borders of Canada. Sarah-Mary uses her street smarts and her wits to help the ladies hitchhike across the Midwest while they encounter both unsavory characters and kind-hearted individuals who show Sarah-Mary and Sadaf evil and kindness can lurk in the most unsuspecting places.

Those unsuspecting places and people are what truly made me enjoy this book which offered a perspective on human nature I haven’t seen through the eyes of a teenage girl in this dystopian world of Muslim haters. Sarah-Mary was sheltered and naïve to the racism and bigotry that exist in the world. Through the glimpses of people encountered along the way, not only is Sarah-Mary’s perspective broadened but also the perspective of the reader who will turn the pages of this hitch-hiking adventure.

Books like American Heart offer readers a perspective of what could come to pass if we do not change our mindsets and those around us. Sarah-Mary offered her heart at the risk of losing her life to jail time or to murder from the nasty minds of individuals who would rather turn her in than help her save a life.

In the Classroom: Research Paper & Report by poster board

Have your students pick a nationality. See if they can interview someone from there. Write the five paragraph paper with a Works Cited page including facts about their culture, religion and customs. The main part of this assignment is the visual. Have your students create a 3D poster board, share their new found knowledge and display them on your classroom walls. Stay late one day after school and create a Scavenger Hunt worksheet based on the information your students have shared on their poster boards. Then have your students complete your worksheets while learning about their peer’s research. Like Plato and Aristotle, you want your students to become wiser than the teacher.


American Heart by Laura Moriarty (HarperTeen | 9780062694102 | January 30, 2018)

America Grelinger

America Grelinger doesn’t mind if you call her Ms. America. It makes her head swell and she loves the title. America is a former English teacher and has a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, now retired to raise two crazy little boys who think the funniest thing on the planet is to burp and toot… which is why she reads. Because it’s cheaper than counseling. Amy and her husband live with those two crazy little boys in Floyds Knobs, Indiana.