Book Review: The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James


The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James by Ashley Herring Blake ~ 370 pages ~ published 3/26/19 by Little, Brown

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

What I Thought:

When I heard that Ashley Herring Blake was releasing another middle grade novel, I was super excited! I read Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World and absolutely loved it, so I had super high hopes for The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James. Those super high hopes were super well deserved! Also, look at that absolutely gorgeous cover!! 😍

First, I love Sunny. Sunny was such a fun character. She is fun and quirky and so very strong. I couldn’t even imagine going through something like a heart transplant as an adult, and she did it at age 12. Rockstar! I very much enjoyed her zest for life and her drive to re-invent herself (even if she didn’t really need a re-invention…but then who of us really does, hmm?) Getting to view the world through her eyes was a delight. 

I loved the setting for this book. I found Juniper Island to be such a fun backdrop for this story to be painted onto. I loved that Sunny and Kate live in an old lighthouse, and that her bedroom is pre-teen goals. This book just really transported me back to my pre-teen years in the best way possible.

I really enjoyed how light and upbeat this novel is while simultaneously dealing with some really tough issues. Sunny has so much drama going on in her life: an absent mother who suddenly reappears in her life after years, a best friend who betrays her trust, a potential crush on a girl, and, to top it all off, a heart transplant. She’s got a lot on her plate, but she has such a sunny (sorry for the pun!) outlook on life that it makes this book feel uplifting rather than super heavy.

This is a book I would hand to any girl, pre-teen and above, who is looking for a fun and inspiring heroine and also discusses some very well-written real-life issues. I loved it, and I hope you will too!

My Rating:


I gave The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James 5 STARS!

Are you interested in learning more about this book? Check out the links below! 

Ashley Herring Blake’s Website

Ashley Herring Blake’s Twitter

The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James on Goodreads

Purchase The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James at

Have you read The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James? How about any other of Blake’s books? Which is your favorite? Let’s talk down in the comments! 

Love and happy reading,

7 thoughts on “Book Review: The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James

  1. Ah, this book sounds awesome 🙂 I agree – the cover is a dream! And it’s so uplifting to hear that the protagonist is upbeat and full of positivity, in spite of the challenges she’s facing; I think that’s something vitally needed in the pre-teen/teen book scene ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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