Published by Wednesday Books on February 27th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Death, Family, Health, Mystery, Romance, Young Adult
Format: eBook, Hardcover
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo
I voluntarily reviewed an advance review copy of this book I received for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my open and honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
After ten books and millions of readers, C.C. Hunter’s New York Times bestselling Shadow Falls series came to an end last year. Now with a popular paranormal young adult series behind her, Hunter decided to turn her prolific pen to a new project, a personal YA contemporary.
THIS HEART OF MINE (Wednesday Books; February 27, 2018) tells the story of a teen girl who receives a lifesaving transplant and discovers there is more to the heart keeping her alive. With Hunter’s experience as her husband waited on the transplant list, her change in genre is full of real emotion and love that can only come from the author’s heart.
A new heart saved her life—but will it help her find out what really happened to its donor?
Seventeen-year-old Leah MacKenzie is heartless. An artificial heart in a backpack is keeping her alive. However, this route only offers her a few years. And with her rare blood type, a transplant isn’t likely. Living like you are dying isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But when a heart becomes available, she’s given a second chance at life. Except Leah discovers who the donor was — a boy from her school — and they’re saying he killed himself. Plagued with dreams since the transplant, she realizes she may hold the clues to what really happened.
Matt refuses to believe his twin killed himself. When Leah seeks him out, he learns they are both having similar dreams and he’s certain it means something. While unraveling the secrets of his brother’s final moments, Leah and Matt find each other, and a love they are terrified to lose. But life and even new hearts don’t come with guarantees. Who knew living, took more courage than dying?
What people are saying about This Heart of Mine
“THIS HEART OF MINE is a moving young-adult novel about life, death, and grief.”
— Popsugar, “The 22 Best New Books of Winter Will Have You Hibernating Over the Holidays”
“Hunter’s portrayals of the characters and their emotions, and of Leah’s life that walks so close to death, are genuine and full of the hard truths of living with chronic illness…Writing from personal experience, Hunter delivers a read that’s both absorbing and honest.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“Teens will love the emotional twists and turns…the mystery of the dead communicating with the living through dreams and memories will grip readers and leave them guessing until the very end. With so many unanswered questions and tons of suspense, teens will be on the edge of their seats, eager to know the mystery held within Leah’s heart.”
— School Library Journal
“I was addicted from page one!”
— New York Times bestselling author PC Cast
“Heartbreaking and heroic. Hunter’s characters will leave you breathless and flipping the pages for more.”
— New York Times bestselling author Kristin Cast
One month earlier
“You lucky bitch!” I drop back down on my pink bedspread, phone to ear, knowing Brandy is dancing on cloud nine and I’m dancing with her. I glance at the door to make sure Mom isn’t hovering and about to freak over my language. Again.
She isn’t there.
Lately, I can’t seem to control what comes out of my mouth. Mom blames it on too much daytime who’s-the-baby-daddy television. She could be right. But hey, a girl’s gotta have some fun.
“Where he’s taking you?” I ask.
“Pablo’s Pizza.” Brandy’s tone lost the oh-God shriek qual- ity. “Why . . . why don’t you come with us?”
“On your date? Are you freaking nuts?”
“You go to the doctor’s office, you could—”
“No. That’s hell no!” I even hate going to the doctor’s office. If people stare long enough they see the tube. But this isn’t even about me. “I’d die before I get between you—”
“Don’t say that!” Brandy’s emotional reprimand rings too loud. Too painful.
“It’s just a figure of speech,” I say, but in so many ways it’s not. I’m dying. I’ve accepted that. The people in my life haven’t. So, for them, I pretend. Or try to.
“But if you—”
“Stop. I’m not going.”
There’s a gulp of silence. That’s when I realize my “lucky bitch” comment brought on the pity invite. Brandy’s worried I’m jealous. And okay, maybe I am, a little. But my grandmother used to say it was okay to see someone in a beautiful red dress and think, I want a dress like hers. But it wasn’t okay to think, I want a dress like hers and I want her to have a wart on her nose.
I don’t wish Brandy warts. She’s had the hots for Brian for years. She deserves Brian.
Do I deserve something besides the lousy card fate dealt to me? Hell yeah. But what am I going to do? Cry? I tried that. I’ve moved on.
Now I’ve got my bucket list. And my books.
The books are part of my bucket list. I want to read a hun- dred. At least a hundred. I started counting after I got out of the hospital the first time I survived an infection from my arti- ficial heart. I’m at book twenty-eight now. I won’t mention how many of them were romance novels.
“Leah,” Brandy starts in again.
The chime of the doorbell has me glancing at the pink clock on my bedside table.
It’s study time. Algebra. I hate it. But I kind of like hating because I hated it before I got sick. Hating the same things as before makes me feel more like the old me.
“Gotta go. Ms. Strong is here.” I bounce my heels on the bed. The beaks on my Donald Duck slippers bob up and down. Lately, I’ve been into cartoon-character slippers. They make my feet look happy. Mom’s bought me three pairs: Mickey, Donald, and Dumbo.
“But—” Brandy tries again.
“No. But you’re gonna tell me everything. All the sexy details. How good he kisses. How good he smells. How many times you catch him staring at your boobs.”
Yep, I’m jealous all right. But I’m not a heartless bitch. Well, maybe I am. Heartless, really heartless, but not so much a bitch. I carry an artificial heart around in a backpack. It’s keeping me alive.
“I always tell you everything,” Brandy says.
No, but you used to. I stare up at my whirling polka-dot ceil- ing fan. Even Brandy’s walking on eggshells, scared she’ll say something to remind me that I got a raw deal, something that will make me feel sorry for myself. I’m done doing that. But I hate hearing that crunch as people tiptoe around the truth.
“Leah.” Mom calls me.
“Gotta go.” I hang up, grab my heart, and get ready to face algebra.
I really hate it, but it’s number one on my bucket list—my last hurrah. Well, not algebra, but graduating high school. And I don’t want a diploma handed to me. I want to earn it.
I spot Mom standing in the entrance of the dining room turned study. She’s rubbing her palms over her hips. A nervous habit, though I have no idea what’s got her jittery now. I sur- vived the last infection and the one before that. She hears my footsteps, looks at me. Her brow puckers—another sign of serious mama fret.
I stop. Why’s she so nervous? “What?”
“Ms. Strong couldn’t make it.” She’s rushes off faster than her hurried words.
I hear someone shuffling in the dining room. I’m leery. Hes- itant. I move in. My Donald Duck slippers skid to a quick stop when I see the dark-haired boy at the table.
“Shit.” I suck my lips into my mouth in hopes I didn’t say it loud enough for him to hear.
He grins. He heard me. That smile is as good as the ones I read about in romance novels. Smiles described as crooked, mind-stopping, or coming with a melt-me-now quality. I swear my artificial heart skips two beats.
He’s one of the Kenner twins, either Eric or Matt, the two hottest boys in school. I used to be able to tell them apart, but now I’m not sure of anything. If I combed my hair today. If I brushed my teeth. If I have on a bra?
I close my mouth, run my tongue over my fuzzy-feeling teeth, trying to quietly suck them clean.
Glancing down, away from his eyes, I rock back and forth on my heels, my Donald Ducks’ bills rocking with me. Should I run back to my room? But how pathetic will I look then? And if I do, he’ll leave. Lifting my gaze, I realize I’m not sure I want him to go. I kinda like looking at him.
“Hey,” he says.
“Hey,” I mimic and realize I’m hiding the backpack behind my leg. I give my bright red tank top a tug down to cover the tube that extends from the backpack and pokes into me under my left ribcage. A hole that kinda looks like a second belly but- ton. Yup, I’m hiding the very thing that’s keeping me alive.
“Ms. Strong couldn’t make it,” he says as if reading my mood and realizing he needs to justify his being here. “She asked me to sub.”
“For how many extra credit points?” I wait for him to tell me he did it just out of kindness. And, if true, it would mean he did it out of pity. I’m not sure I’d enjoy looking at him anymore. I’d rather be someone’s means to a better grade. Brandy told me that everyone in school knows about my dead heart.
“Fifteen. I got lazy and didn’t turn in some homework.
You’ll pump me up to a B.”
“You should have held out for twenty.”
He smiles again. “I don’t think it was negotiable.”
Moving in, I try to guess which twin he is. I try to figure out how to ask, but everything I think of sounds lame. Let him be Matt.
I had a thing for Matt since seventh grade. It might have been wishful thinking, but in tenth grade I thought he liked me too. Not that it ever went anywhere. He was football, I was book club. He was popular, I was . . . not. Then I started dating Trent. A guy in book club. A guy I let off the hook as soon as I found out my heart was dying.
“Your books?” he asks.
I don’t understand the question, until I see he’s pointing to my backpack.
Crap! I freak a little. I have several pat answers in my head that I came up with when Mom, afraid I was turning into an agoraphobe, insisted I get out of the house. But I can’t remem- ber them. The silence reeks of awkwardness.
So I go with the truth. “No. It’s my . . . heart.” “Shit.” He spills my favorite word.
His eyes meet mine and he smiles again. Yup, it’s kinda crooked. My mind’s not working. And I’m melting.
“Oh, you’re joking,” he says. “Right?”
I nod yes then shake my head no as if I don’t know the answer.
His smile fades like a light on a dimmer switch. “Seriously?” “Seriously.” I move to the desk in the corner. One-handed,
This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter follows the life of Leah MacKenzie. Leah has lived day to day with an artificial heart and knowing her life has an expiration date. Her only hope to live a longer life is to get a heart transplant. However, due to her rare blood type the available transplants are few and far in between.
When an a heart donor becomes available, Leah has another chance at life. Though when Leah finds out her heart came from the tragic end of someone else’s life, her life takes a turn and leads her to Matt Kenner.
Matt Kenner doesn’t know what to feel. Still grieving over the death of his father, he is completely blind-sided when he learns that his identical twin brother, Eric passed away. The police say it was suicide, but he knows his brother wouldn’t do such a thing. He believes it even more when he begins to have dreams of his brother and his belief is only reaffirmed when Leah, who now has his brother’s heart, admits to having the same dreams. Leah and Matt join forces as they work together to investigate Eric’s death.
Romance mixed with drama, mystery, and a dash of suspense, Ms. Hunter completely pulls readers into her story. Matt and Leah are both endearing characters. Each are dealing with Eric’s passing and donation of his heart in their own ways. Both are strong and vulnerable at the same time. I enjoyed reading about their story and the emotion that emanated from the pages got to me (Warning: tissues may be needed while reading this book).
Besides the story of Leah and Matt, I really liked how grounded in reality This Heart of Mine was and after reading author C.C. Hunter’s reasons for writing this book in the afterward, it made the story more poignant. The novel deals with serious topics like depression, suicide, myocarditis, and being an organ donor. Ms. Hunter handles each topic well, adding many layers to this well-written book. The individual characters (family, friends) are going through their own trials, the investigation of Eric’s death, and Leah and Matt’s relationship story with each other. This book has it all.
Overall, I recommend This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter. This book comes from the heart and Ms. Hunter gives so much to the readers. I truly enjoyed Leah and Matt’s story and can’t wait to read more from this author.
book trailer for THIS HEART OF MINE!