Reader’s Edyn

I always felt like I could do something more than just read. Finally, I have found both a creative outlet and a chance to do something meaningful with my reading. This blog was created in appreciation of and tribute to all of the authors who have brought me joy through their books. These reviews are my way of giving back to authors and providing recognition for the hard work that each one completes every day!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Review: Second Hand Heart by Catherine Ryan Hyde

 Title: Second Hand Heart
Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde
Release Date: June 15, 2011
Publisher: Smashwords
Category: Fiction/Literature/Women’s Fiction
Type: Kindle/E-book/Hardback/Paperback

Book Blurb:
Vida is 19 and has never had much of a life. Struggling along with a life-threatening heart condition, her whole life has been one long preparation for death. But suddenly she is presented with a donor heart, and just in time. Now she gets to do something she never imagined she'd have to do: live.

Richard is a 36-year-old man who’s just lost his beloved wife, Lorrie, in a car accident. Still in shock and not even having begun the process of grieving, he is invited to the hospital to meet the young woman who received his wife’s donor heart.

Vida takes one look at Richard and feels she’s loved him all her life. And tells him so. Richard assumes she’s just a foolish young girl. And maybe she is. Or maybe there’s truth behind the theory of cellular memory, and maybe it really is possible for a heart to remember, at least for a time, on its own.

I have a goal of shortening my reviews, but I find I have a lot to say about this book primarily because I relate to it on a number of levels. First and foremost being experience with a child born with a heart condition. Two years ago, at the age of 1 week, my son was diagnosed with Velcardiofacial Syndrome (VCF). This condition occurs at conception, involves the absence of ½ of the 22nd chromosome, and unfortunately can manifest in over 180 ways in any combination. My son was afflicted with bilateral cleft lip, complete cleft palate, club feet, and a double aortic arch causing a vascular ring. At 10 days old, he underwent a vascular ring repair and began his second chance at life. He is one of the “lucky” children with VCF and has been thriving ever since the surgery despite ongoing medical care.

Second, just last month my family experienced the miraculous beauty of the Grand Canyon. Pretty sad that as an Arizona resident it was my first visit there. Every detail mentioned about the canyon was spot on!

Finally, and somewhat ironically, I read this book during a move because we had a 90 minute drive between the old house in Rimrock and our new house in Williams. The mention of Williams made me smile, as well as Vida’s visit to the Williams Visitor Center.

This book follows Vida, a 19 year-old who has come to terms with death because of her life-long struggle with a defective heart. At the last minute she receives a heart and suddenly everything changes. Also followed is Richard, the husband of the donor and his struggle with moving forward. The story, to say the least, is a spectrum of the human ability to cope.

What I disliked in the story was the absence of Vida’s father. His love for her is obvious, but I would have thought he would have played a slightly larger par considering the circumstances.

I enjoyed numerous components to the story beginning with the format. The story is told through a series of journal entries and e-mail correspondences. Readers are given a change of pace through the telling, effectively giving life to the voices sharing their innermost thoughts. I also appreciated the thoughts and discussions surrounding cellular memory. Whatever personal belief one may hold, the theory is definitely beyond intriguing.

I strongly recommend this book for all; especially those who blessedly remain unaffected by such traumatic events. The brief glimpse into such an experience is priceless. The tribute to and resiliency of humans and the ability to evolve, even in the face of such devastating circumstances, is both inspiring and not to be missed in this heart-felt story.

(Kindle book received from author @cryanhyde for review)

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