The Avery Shaw Experiment


The following journal is a scientific study on the process of overcoming heartbreak and is my official entry for the 2013 Utah State Science Fair.

My theory is that having your heart broken is very similar to experiencing the death of a loved one. Therefore, it stands to reason that by using the commonly accepted seven stages of grief (shock/disbelief, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, and acceptance/hope), one can overcome the devastating effects of a broken heart.

In this experiment, I will prove my theory by taking you through the seven stages of grief as applied to my own severely-damaged heart. I hypothesize that once I have experienced all seven of these steps, I will have cured my heart of all cracks and tears and will be otherwise ready to fall in love again.

As I, Avery Shaw—average sixteen-year-old junior in Spanish Fork, Utah—am obviously not impartial on this topic and will not always be able to make unbiased observations, I have recruited the help of fellow Spanish Fork High student Grayson Kennedy to be an objective outside observer throughout this study. Unlike me, the eighteen-year-old basketball star and womanizing socialite has absolutely no personal interest in the outcome of this experiment. (He’s in it for the extra credit.)

We call this project The Avery Shaw Experiment.


To really grasp the full extent of the shock I experienced when Aiden Kennedy broke my heart, you need to understand the unusual circumstances of our relationship up until that point.

Aiden and I had known each other since birth. Our mothers met in a prenatal yoga class and became instant best friends, bonding over the same due date and a mutual tendency to throw up during class.

Aiden and I were born on the same cold winter day: February 11, 1997. As babies we went to all the same playdates and mommy-and-me groups. When we got a little older, it became the same preschool and then the same elementary school, middle school, and high school. We have all the same friends, participate in all the same extracurricular activities, and have even celebrated every single one of our birthdays together.

I’d been desperately in love with Aiden for years, but despite my secret undying devotion, we’d never been anything but the very best of friends. Knowing boys are slower to develop in the romance department, I waited patiently for Aiden to catch up to my feelings. I never had any doubt that he would one day see me for the girl I am and give me my first kiss. Then we would go to prom together and eventually end up as Mr. and Mrs. Aiden and Avery Kennedy. Even our names fit perfectly together.

Aiden dropped the bomb that changed my life this past New Year’s Eve. My mom and I had gone—as we did every year—with the Kennedy family up to their insanely nice condo in Park City for winter break. It was nearing dinnertime, and Aiden and I were watching this fascinating documentary about the effects of steroid use on the human body.

“Where in the world is your brother?” Aiden’s mom, Cheryl, stood in the kitchen, frowning at the pile of dishes in the sink.

Grayson Kennedy is not my brother, technically, but I didn’t think twice before answering his mom’s question. “He went downstairs to the gym about an hour ago.”

“Shirtless,” Aiden added with a snort. “I guess the new tenants down in 7B have a good-looking daughter. What was the term he used?”

“Whooty.” I laughed.

“Whooty?” Cheryl echoed.

“It was a new one for us too. We had to look it up.”

Aiden happily recited the definition we’d read on “‘A white