Monday, April 4, 2011

Review: Second Hand Heart

Second Hand Heart by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Released: September 02, 2010
Published by: Black Swan
Pages: 460, Paperback
Adult/Young Adult
|Author Blog| |Author Twitter|
Overall: 5 Stars - Flippin' Fabulous

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. Second Hand Heart is both a story of having to learn to live for the first time, and having to learn to live all over again. Synopsis via Goodreads.
My Thoughts:

Catherine Ryan Hyde has proven she has a way of touching hearts and brining books to us that touch some of the deeper meanings of life.  Second Hand Heart is no exception.

Second Hand Heart couldn't be a more fitting title for the story of nineteen year old Vida and her heart.  Vida's life is quite tragic, living an existence where every breath can be her last since she brushed death on the day she was born.  Her heart condition doesn't only affect her diminishing heath and ability to live a normal day-to-day life, it also affects the person she is... her heart.

When Vida is given a second chance at having a heart we are introduced to the scientific anomaly of cellular memory.  When Vida meets Richard, the husband of the woman whose donated heart saves Vida's life, the story of the heart takes over and takes us on an emotional roller coaster side by side with a girl dying to live and show a grieving man that her heart remembers him.

Like Vida is intense, Richard is grieving and this sets the tone for Second Hand Heart.  Their journey together isn't pretty and it literally tugs at your heart.  Catherine Ryan Hyde makes it impossible to take sides, willing Vida to back away and find herself or willing Richard to give in to the girl who holds the heart he felt he would be eternally bound to.  Both main characters are likable and strong in their own right.

Other key characters help build this story's character.  Abigail, Vida's mother,  paved the way for Vida's need to let go and intense feelings.  Esther, Vida's best friend even though over half a century her senior, helped instill Vida with strength and faith she carried close to her literally and figuratively.  It was the way she accepted Vida when she accepted few others which created a mini-story within a story equally as touching.  Then there is Victor, Victor who saw Vida, noticed Vida and was ready to accept Vida.  Victor was there to help Esther and Vida do what they had to, to finally move on in life, to let go of what needed letting go of.  Then he was just there, in his possibly gothic style and all.

Second Hand Heart is an extraordinary story and completely unforgettable.  I've cried before but very rarely does a story keep tears dancing in my eyes from the first page to the last.  It was hard to stop the way the  journal pages of Vida and Richard's story came to life.  This will be a book I hold onto.

Cover: 5
Characters: 5
Plot: 5
Re-readable: Yes, I think so
Overall: 5


  1. I've been wanting to read this one! Great review... and if you wanna swap, I'm game!
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  2. Great review. It sounds like a really good book.

  3. I said I was going to buy this...but no one seems to sell it, lol. If you know of anywhere I can get, please let me know! haha.

  4. Nevermind! I found it at Powell's! Thanks to the author for having links to booksellers!

    (sorry for all the comments, lol)


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