‘Second Hand Heart’

After reading (and loving!) ‘Chasing Windmills’ a while ago, I was thrilled to receive a copy of ‘Second Hand Heart’ to review!

As the title suggests, the book is about a heart transplant…but it is actually a lot more than that. Vida has been fighting for her life since birth, undergoing operation after operation when finally, when she is 19, a heart becomes available…

Recently widowed Richard is curious to meet the girl who received his wife Lorrie’s heart but as soon as he does, things start to spiral out of control for both of them, but not necessarily in a bad way…both characters, linked by the heart, find themselves uncharacteristically rebelling against what other people think they should do, but in doing so…they discover their true heart’s desire.

‘Second Hand Heart’ looks at heart transplants from both perspectives, which is really fascinating to read. Vida’s sections read in a diary-esque way, as she decides to write about her experiences in her ‘blank book’/journal and after speaking to her, Richard’s sections begin to follow suit. By interweaving email conversations into the novel, Ryan Hyde’s writing is bravely bending conventions of the traditional novel. It works really well! She delves into the idea of cellular memory and psychics, whilst focusing primarily on Vida and Richard.

It’s heartbreaking because for one person to live, another has to die…which is not only one of the cruellest formulas, but a miraculous way of bringing something wonderful out of tragedy. The gift of life is the greatest thing that you can give another human being and so many people are alive today because of organ donations.

This is a fantastic book, each journal entry equals a chapter, which means that it’s really easy to read too (and brilliant for tube-readers!). ‘Second Hand Heart’ is a really touching book, Ryan Hyde’s style is evoking, informative and passionate.

Similar to Jodi Picoult in content and writing style but also unique, Catherine Ryan Hyde’s books are wonderful!

3 days, 3 books, 3 reviews!

So, this weekend I went to visit my Grandad and inconveniently forgot the books that I’d put aside to read…I think it was a mixture of putting them somewhere so I wouldn’t forget them, and forgetting that had happened…anyway, fortunately my Grandma was also an avid avid reader and I was spoilt for choice looking through her books!

I selected, ‘A Child Called It’ by Dave Pelzer as I’ve never read it but always been intrigued, ‘Chasing Windmills’ by Catherine Ryan Hyde and ‘A Perfect Arrangement’ by Suzanne Berne. 

First, I read ‘A Child Called It’, and although it was as tough-going as I knew it would be…it was gripping, heart-wrenching and real. Next time I visit my Grandad, I’m going to borrow the next 2 books…it is a hard read but it’s honest and it doesn’t try and force the information on you…it just reads through the eyes of the child and shocks you senseless throughout at the cruelty of human nature. Dave Pelzer is an incredible writer and incredibly brave for sharing his story and his childhood with us.

Although originally I had planned to continue on with Dave Pelzer’s books for the weekend, I decided not to…I wanted to vary my unplanned reading slightly.

So next, I read ‘Chasing Windmills’ and wasn’t disappointed! It depicts the lives of seventeen year old Sebastian who, due to an over-protective Father has never even eaten pizza…and Maria, a twenty-two year old mother of two who is suffering in a long-term relationship which is taking a turn for the worst…their lives entwine as they ride the New York subway back and forth, late at night…

It is about a chance encounter BUT it’s better than that, it’s not easy, it’s not perfect…it’s difficult, it’s confusing and it’s realistic! I was worried that it would be really cliched but it wasn’t at all, it was a really good book that depicted love without making it idealistic and cheesey.  A brilliant book, which would be a great holiday read!

Now, my third book of the weekend, ‘A Perfect Arrangement’, which takes you into the lives of Mirella and Howard and their young children, Pearl and Jacob. Both Mirella and Howard lead busy lives and so they enlist the help of an au pair…I think you can probably guess where this is going…they find a nanny who, it seems would give Mary Poppins a run for her money, Randi and everything seems (to quote the title) ‘perfect’…but Berne’s writing style stops this from being a cliched ‘nanny takes over family and becomes too close to children’-story. It jumps around between perspectives, which is something I love in books, and there lots of Randi’s thoughts and feelings embedded into the narrative which shows you (as if you couldn’t guess) that everything isn’t as perfect as it seems.

So, this concludes my weekend of unplanned books! Now, better get back to the ones that I HAD planned to read! Saying that, I’m pleased with my choices and pleased to have had such a good weekend, both with my beloved Grandad and when he’d gone to bed…