Review| The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James – Ashley Herring Blake

Ashley Herring Blake has been on my radar for awhile, but I haven’t had the chance to read anything by her yet. The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James was a group read this month in TBR & Beyond, so I thought it was the perfect chance to get started with this author’s books. What did I think of this book? Keep reading to find out!

Twelve-year-old Sunny St. James navigates heart surgery, reconnections with a lost mother, first kisses, and emerging feelings for another girl in this stunning, heartfelt novel–perfect for fans of Ali Benjamin and Erin Entrada Kelly.

When Sunny St. James receives a new heart, she decides to set off on a “New Life Plan”: 1) do awesome amazing things she could never do before; 2) find a new best friend; and 3) kiss a boy for the first time.

Her “New Life Plan” seems to be racing forward, but when she meets her new best friend Quinn, Sunny questions whether she really wants to kiss a boy at all. When the reemergence of her mother, Sunny begins a journey to becoming the new Sunny St. James.

This sweet, tender novel dares readers to find the might in their own hearts.


The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James is such a powerful book. I’ve read a lot of books, but this is the first one I’ve read where a character gets a new heart. I can’t imagine how scary that is and from the start I really felt that Sunny was such a strong character.

After receiving her new heart, Sunny decides it’s time to be a new Sunny St. James. She even makes a list of things to do when she’s feeling a bit better. Sunny is really ready to be able to live again. When even walking wasn’t something she could do anymore, life got hard. On top of that losing her best friend wasn’t easy.

Sunny was such an outspoken character and I loved that about her. Nothing would stop her from completing her list. When things get hard she writes poems and leaves them around town. I loved these little peeks into her mind and to see how she deals with things. The writing was such a creative way.

Not only does this story deal with a heart transplant, but also that families aren’t always blood. Sunny’s mother deals with alcoholism and couldn’t take care of her. She’s grown up with Kate who has basically been her mother. Not many middle grade stories deal with these subject and I think it’s important. So many kids deal with these things on a daily basis. I thought this part of the story was heartbreaking and beautiful. The way the author dealt with this seemed very realistic.

What I also loved about this story is the diversity. Sunny starts off thinking she wants to kiss a boy, but throughout the story she starts thinking about kissing girls. It’s not easy figuring out how you feel or even be open about it, especially when your former best friend let out your secrets. Sunny was very brave though and her relationship with Quinn in this story is amazing. At that age, kids are starting to figure out who they are and I loved how the author added that to Sunny’s story.

It’s hard for me to put this story in to words, because I really think you need to read it and experience all the feels for yourself. I really hope authors give us more stories like this. They feel so important and children need books like these. My review may be a bit all over the place, but believe me when I say you need to pick this one up!

The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James definitely has a special place in my heart. I love seeing more and more books deal with difficult subjects. What books have you read recently that deal with heavier things?

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