From debut author Lio Min comes Beating Heart Baby, a love letter to internet friendships, anime, and indie rock perfect for fans of Heartstopper
When artistic and sensitive Santi arrives at his new high school, everyone in the wildly talented marching band welcomes him with open arms. Everyone except for the prickly, proud musical prodigy Suwa, who doesn’t think Santi has what it takes to be in the band.
But Santi and Suwa share painful pasts, and when they open up to each other, a tentative friendship begins. And soon, that friendship turns into something more. . . .
Will their fresh start rip at the seams as Suwa seeks out a solo spotlight, and both boys come to terms with what it'll take, and what they'll have to let go, to realize their dreams?
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.