Book Review: In a Heartbeat

In a Heartbeat

Loretta Ellsworth

Walker Books for Young Readers

224 pages

Eagan and Amelia are both teenage girls, but that is where their similarities end.  Eagan is your typical teenager.  She seemingly has it all–a boyfriend and a budding ice skating career.  Sure, she’s got your typical teenage problems.  She butts heads with her mom, who can seem very cold but, overall, she lives a charmed life.

Unfortunately, Amelia isn’t as lucky as Eagan.  She is plagued with a heart condition and unable to do anything that exerts any type of effort.  Her condition is so dire she can no longer walk up a flight of stairs.  She is on the donor list, and if a heart doesn’t become available soon, the prognosis is not good.

I am assuming most of you can see where this is going . . .

Eagan is competing in an ice skating competition when she falls out of a fancy jump and bashes her head against the side of the rink, killing herself instantly.  Suddenly, her life is over.  Being an organ donor though, her organs are passed on for donation.  Her heart included.

Amelia gets the call that she now has a new heart and she is confused.  The prospect of getting a new heart is terrifying and yet–what choice does she have?

After receiving Eagan’s heart, Amelia feels a connection with her, although she doesn’t know the identity of her donor.  All she knows is she suddenly has interests in new things–she cannot get enough of purple suckers, for one.  She starts to yearn for more information about her donor and is unable to move on with her life without tracking down Eagan’s information and family.

Organ donation is one of those things that I rarely ever think about it.  I have always said yes when asked if I want to donate my organs while renewing my license but, other than that, it’s not an issue that affects my daily life.  In a Heartbeat really opened my eyes to the effects of organ donation.  For instance, Amelia’s response when she learned she was getting a new heart was shocking to me in the sense that it wasn’t what I expected.  I completely understood where she was coming from though.  Having someone else’s heart in your body has to be completely weird.

The book was written in a dual narrative, with every chapter alternating between Eagan and Amelia.  I thought this form of narration worked extremely well for the subject matter and it was a nice change of pace.

I think In a Heartbeat is a prime example of worthwhile YA fiction and, if all YA was written like this, I would probably read a lot more YA!

Other Reviews:

Open Mind, Insert Book

Pop Culture Junkie


Sarah’s Random Musings

Becky’s Book Reviews

I borrowed this book from my local library.

4 Responses

  1. I’m currently reading a book that deals with organ donation too. The book I’m reading is called Second Hand Heart.

  2. What an interesting topic for YA fiction. As a former teacher, I can imagine the questions this would raise for young people and how much it would stimulate conversation in a YA English class

  3. This one does sound interesting. I don’t read much YA either, but the theme is really intriguing. Great review!

  4. I read the book in a heartbeat actally i just finshed it and im 11 yrs old i loved it even though i cried in it alot

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