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Smashwords book reviews by Micki Fryhover
- Second Hand Heart
on Nov. 13, 2011
I had the good fortune of connecting with Catherine Ryan Hyde this summer as a result of an adolescent literature class I took. One of the books I was required to read was Ryan Hyde’s Jumpstart the World, which addressed some LGBTQ issues. I really liked Jumpstart the World, and was stoked when my class had the opportunity to visit with her via Skype. I was also thrilled to have the opportunity to get a copy Secondhand Heart in order to read and review it. I am so glad I did. I really enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it.
The narrative of Secondhand Heart is shared between 19 year old Vida, who is in desperate need of a new heart, and 36 year old Richard, who is the husband of the donor whose heart finds itself beating in Vida’s body. Their story is told in form of journal entries, which may take some getting used to, but it helps make the character voices more authentic and distinctive.
What I really like about this book is its sheer, raw emotion. Vida has spent her entire life in a fairly sterile, safe environment due to the fragility of her heart and health. When she gets the unexpected news she is getting a “new” heart, she is thrust back into the world of the living. She isn’t prepared to live because she’s been preparing to die. Richard has lost his wife in a tragic accident and he no longer knows how to live. He doesn’t allow himself to grieve, and instead agrees to meet Vida. Thus begins an interesting journey fueled by the cellular memories of Vida’s donor heart, and Richard’s inability to let go of the heart that is no longer his to love. Even if you don’t really believe in the whole cellular memory thing, the story of Vida and Richard will at least give you something to think about.