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.

The Sunday Salon

Happy Sunday! I just woke up about 20 minutes ago and I am going to have to get out of bed soon and make some mac and cheese for our niece’s birthday cookout later this afternoon.

My own birthday is tomorrow (27, here I come!), and my husband was thoughtful enough to buy me a hot pink Sony Vaio netbook as a gift.  It was also a gift to himself, as he was sick of me using his work laptop. I was afraid the netbook might be too small but it took no getting used to–it is easy to us e and I haven’t had any issues with its size. I am also using my birthday money to go to a local indie bookstore, The Book Loft, tomorrow and I am meeting my parents and one of my sisters for dinner at Brio, so I am excited!

As for my reading . . . it has not been going well this week.  When I left you last Sunday, I was reading both February, by Lisa Moore and The Zookeeper’s Wife, by Diane Ackerman.  Since that post, both books have moved to the DNF pile.  Two DNF books in one week is unheard of for me! With February, which was longlisted for the Booker this year, I just hated the writing style.  It was too poetic and too flowy and the story ended up getting lost.  With The Zookeeper’s Wife, which I was reading for my bookclub, I was not expecting nonfiction.  I thought it would be historical fiction, and I just could not get into the book after that.  Also, I am kind of sick of reading about the Holocaust at this point.  I need a break!  So I put them both down in favor of The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai.  Thankfully I am having much more luck with this one and will hopefully finish it soon.

I hope everyone enjoys their Sunday!

Library Loot: August 19, 2010

Library Loot is a weekly meme hosted by Marge and Claire.

I got some books today that I am super excited.  Not to mention that I got a new laptop and this is my first time posting from it!

I read the first two books in this series and then, for whatever reason, my interest fizzled out.  I am now back on the bandwagon though–this series have been great so far and I highly recommend it!

I saw this book reviewed a few days ago on Claire’s blog The Captive Reader and I was intrigued.  My husband and I have talked about starting a family in the near future, so I thought this book might be enlightening.  Or I suppose it could completely scare me off of the idea!

For the Booker challenge

Another example of a series I forgot about.  The first book was awesome, and I hope I enjoy this one as much.

I admit it . . . I am not a movie fan.  Therefore, I never check DVDs out from the library.  However, I thought this documentary about people that take their own lives by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge sounds fascinating in a morbid way, so I checked it out.

Let me know what you checked out from the library this week!

Book Review: Letter to my Daughter

Letter to my Daughter

George Bishop

Ballantine Books

160 pages

Letter to my Daughter is, just as the name implies, a long letter from Laura to her daughter Liz.  Liz has run away from home after fighting with her parents, and Laura is anxiously waiting for her to come home.  She spends a lot of time composing a long letter to Liz.  As is common with mothers and teenage daughters, there is a great divide between Laura and Liz–one that seems impassable.  Neither of them ever say the right thing and every conversation ends in argument, so Laura instead takes the time to explain all her feelings to Liz in the letter.

You know how, as teenagers, we always swear we’ll never turn out like our own mom?  Such was Laura’s promise as a teenager.  After being caught by her parents with a local boy in high school, she was sent away to a Catholic boarding school.  Despite her deep feelings for her high school boyfriend, her parents refuse to discuss the issue with her, instead alientating themselves even more from their own daughter. 

Laura is able to do on paper what she can’t do in real life–connect with Liz.  We have all been teenagers once, and kids need to know that their parents know what they’re going through and have, at one point, lived through the same type of situations. 

I, for one, always thought my mom was out to get me when I was a teenager.  I could never understand that every punishment or guideline was coming only from her love for me.  Since then, I have realized that I will very likely be a similar parent.  So if you were ever a teenager, especially one that butted heads with your mother, I think you’ll realte very well to this book.  It is an important reminder to be open with your kids before it is too late and your relationship spirals out of control.

Other Reviews:


Books and Movies

Lit and Life

Bibliophile by the Sea

My Cozy Book Nook

BermudaOnion’s Weblog

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Review:Red Hook Road

Red Hook Road

Ayelet Waldman


352 pages

John Tetherly and Becca Copaken are the golden couple.  They’ve been together for years and they live in the coastal town of Red Hook in Maine.  It’s their wedding day and they are enjoying what should be the best day of their lives.  Tragically, everything changes when the driver of their limo collides with an SUV on a windy stretch of road, killing everyone involved.  Suddenly, Becca and John’s family and friends have gone from celebrating to mourning. 

Becca had grown up in a wealthy family that consisted of her dad, her mom Iris and her younger sister Ruthie, along with her grandfather, Emil Kimmelbrod, a famous violin player, whereas John was raised in Red Hook by a single mother, Ruth, along with his younger brother Matt.  Ruth is a housekeeper and is scornful of the seasonal visitors in Red Hook who are wealthier.  The class divide is an issue for Jane and Iris, despite the fact that their children have just married.  Then their children both die . . . where does that leave them?

Red Hook Road is a look into how different people deal with grief.  Iris tries to reach out to Jane as much as she knows how, not seeming to care that Jane is her ousekeeper, but instead seeing her as John’s mom.  Jane, however, is too proud to befriend Iris, and instead wants to grieve for John on her own.  The relationship between Jane and Iris comes to a head as Emil begins teaching Jane’s niece, whom she take care of, to play the violin.  The niece, Samantha, is a prodigy, and Iris begins to see her hopes and dreams for Becca and Ruthie pinned on the young girl. 

Then you also have a blossoming love affair between Ruthie and Matt, both of whom were hit hard by their sibling’s deaths. They feel like they must hide their relationship from others because the deaths of Becca and John still cast a pall over the town.

Red Hook Road is not a book packed with action.  With the exception of the accident in the first few pages, it is a book of emotions rather than anything else.  If you’re looking for a book that develops effortlessly but is still full of meaning, this book does just that.

Other Reviews:

Booking Mama

Devourer of Books


Book, Line and Sinker

I borrowed this book from my local library.

The Sunday Salon

Happy Sunday all!  I admit, I have done absolutely nothing this weekend.  Yesterday I was out of my bed for maybe two hours.  That gave me a lot of reading time though, which is what I had wanted.  I just love having a day with absolutely no obligations.  However, I think I OD’d on sleep, so I am trying to make up for my laziness today!

So, with all my laying about yesterday, I finished Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters.  This poses a big issue only because I am having a hard time finding a book to follow it up with, it was THAT good.  It is only the second book of Waters’ that I have ever read, and that is tragic.  I need to seek out all of her books ASAP!

So, I am supposed to be starting off on my Booker challenge, which I mentioned in my post last Sunday–I want to spend the next two weeks reading from this years longlist or winners from previous years.  Unfortunately, I forgot I need to read my book club book for our meeting on the 27th–The Zookeeper’s Wife, by Diane Ackerman.  So I started it yesterday, but . . . it just wasn’t striking me.  I was not in the mood for non fiction, I guess.  So I started February, by Lisa Moore, which was longlisted for this year’s Booker.  The writing style is a little too disjointed for me, so I wasn’t completely onboard with this one either.  So we’ll see where my reading goes today.

So that’s where my reading is at this point–to make up for my lazy day yesterday, I probably won’t get as much reading done today, as I have some household chores to catch up on.  I hope everyone else will get some reading done though!