The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James by Ashley Herring Blake

Book Sypnosis

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. 

Book Review

This book has been on my wish-list since before it even had a title. That’s how much I love and trust Ashley Herring Blake. I waited months and months for this book, and every second was absolutely worth it, because this book was phenomenal.

The best thing about this book is all of the smaller moments. Sunny’s figuring out she’s queer and she’s just had a heart transplant, so you’d think those would be the biggest parts of this book. Well, you’d be wrong. For me, at least, the best parts were Sunny’s relationships with the other characters.

Sunny’s mum left when she was a little girl, after her father passed, and Kate, her mother’s best friend, has been raising her ever since. I adored Kate with my entire heart. She was Sunny’s parent, through and through, and I loved their relationship. I loved how protective Kate was over Sunny. I loved Dave’s involvement in their life. I loved the friendship drama with Sunny’s old best friend, and I especially loved how it ended. You don’t often get that sort of closure in real life when you break up with a friend, so I really enjoyed that. Of course, I absolutely loved the friendship and developing romance between Sunny and Quinn. It was sweet, and real, and everything 12 year old me dreamed of.

Most of all, I just enjoyed Sunny. She was such a fantastic character; strong, vulnerable, funny, kind, daring. She is someone I instantly fell in love with and that is so important to me when I’m reading a book.

Final Thoughts

I wish I had a book like this when I was younger. I feel like I say that about every queer YA book, but this one in particular hit me hard. It was such an emotional rollercoaster but everything was so perfectly planned that not a moment felt dull or overdone. I was captured the entire time I was reading it, and stayed up until a ridiculous time in the morning to finish it. But the lack of sleep was completely and totally worth it.

I would recommend this to absolutely anyone and everyone. Despite being a middle grade book, this was still relatable and interesting to me, a 24-year-old woman. That’s how good of a writer Ashley is.

I also want to mention the cover; Ashley’s covers have always been fantastic, but this might be my absolute favourite. Shout out to for the amazing design of the cover, I was in awe when I first saw it (I still am, let’s be honest!).


The main character in this book likes both girls and boys; I can’t quite remember if she or her love interest ever use a label, but both girls are most definitely queer. Quinn, the best friend and love interest, is also a Mexican girl.

And this may be somewhat spoilery, so feel free to skim over this part, but I believe Sunny’s mum’s partner is an Indian man (well, he’s brown, and his name is Janesh so I’m assuming), and their daughter is mixed race.


5/5 stars, easily.

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