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Ellsworth, Loretta.


New York : Walker, 2010


ISBN 0802720684

Click on the book to read Amazon reviews

Heartbeat tells a story in two voices, told in alternating chapters by Eagan and Amelia.  The book opens as Eagan discovers she is dead.... nice opener, eh (kinda reminded me of Elsewhere)?   Amelia takes the story over as her mom bursts into the room to let her know “The beeper went off”, indicating a donor heart has been found.  The reader tumbles pretty quickly to the fact Eagan has donated her heart to Amelia.

Both stories proceed forward as Amelia remembers how healthy feels - she has had congestive heart failure for several years and having a properly functioning heart feels quite odd.  Not only does normal feel weird, but also she begins to have wants and desires which seem to come out of nowhere?  Why does her heart feel like it wants to exercise hard and why is she suddenly getting so sassy?  Who was her donor and what was she like?  On the other hand, Eagan is reliving her past in order to move forward from her state of “in between”.  She needs to find closure on her former life before she can bid that life goodbye.  

Heartbeat is a quick read which will appeal to those kids who need an excuse to have a little cry.  Ellsworth uses the theory of cellular memory as a plot device.  The theory states a transplanted organ carries residual memories from the donor, which can be given to the recipient.  Heartbeat uses this theory to explain Amelia’s sudden personality changes.  Ellsworth also pushes the envelope regarding the controversy over whether or not a transplant recipient should track down their donor’s family in a very realistic manner.  (New Hampshire Isinglass Teen Book Award, 2014)

SUBJECTS:     Heart -- Transplantation -- Fiction.

                        Donation of organs, tissues, etc. -- Fiction.

                        Death -- Fiction.

                        Personality -- Fiction.

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