Young Adult = Cold Hands, Warm Heart

Tyler’s sister Amanda is a phenomenal gymnast, but doesn’t exactly win sister of the year awards. Dani was born with a major heart defect. When Amanda dies is a tragic accident, her family makes the painful decision to donate her organs. Dani is one of the recipients. She struggles with fear and guilt as she gets ready for the surgery, and then faces a lifetime that she had not planned for. Meanwhile, Tyler, wrapped in grief, begins to wonder what all of the recipient letters his mother keeps burning might say.

The book was written with some sections in Dani’s first person account and some sections in third person focused on Tyler, with occasional jumps to other people, such as the delivery man who transports the organs. The jumping back and forth allowed the reader to understand the overwhelming emotions on both sides of the donation. However, I also felt that it jarred me out of the reading. Oddly enough, I think that if Tyler and Dani had both been in first person, or both in third, I would not have had a problem at all. It was the change from first to third and back again that made me too aware of the writing.

Other than that, the book was a very satisfying read. There is a lot of emotion without sinking to the level of pure “emo”. Both donating and receiving an organ are filled with complex emotional reactions that are difficult to portray, and the author does a fine job of evoking the mishmash of feelings. The romance between Dani and another critically ill teenager was also particularly moving, buttressed as it was with the realities of living with a terminal disease.

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