Tuesday, 6 December 2016

MPOV: Instructions for the Second-hand Heart

This book revolves around two teenagers, Jonny and Niamh. Jonny is hospitalized, awaiting a new heart, whilst relying on Berlin Heart to be alive. Niamh is always in the shadow of Leo who is her older twin brother. Their lives intertwined when Jonny finally received his new heart from the death of Niamh's twin brother, Leo.

As in most YA novels that I've come across, this book revolves around critical illness and death which reminded me of The Fault in Our Stars. Anyway, this book is about two young souls, one coping with the loss of her twin and another coping with his new implanted heart. It may seemed like another teen romance read but this book does highlight the importance of organ donation and the danger of meeting strangers online, pill abuse and PTSD, creating awareness to the reading community.

At the start of the book, I was appalled that short forms were used like aka and vom! Thankfully, those two were the only ones detected. It was truly an easy and straightforward read, good pace with a simple, believable yet at times predictable plot with lots of big medical jargon and emotional roller coasters. I can relate to the emotional factor especially the lost of a family member hence it was a little difficult to read in public then. The grief and denial plague was so difficult to shake off. Tamsyn mentioned that it took her four years to write this book and I liked that she did her homework thoroughly.

Halfway through, I did suspect that Emily, Jonny's best friend, was dying when she was put in isolation with the missing Chemo-girl drawing. The characteristics were realistic like coping with the loss i.e. distant family relationship with the angry, rebellious and self-destructive Niamh. Jonny trying to be Leo, trying to emulate a new identity instead of being himself was truly relatable. Thankfully Niamh has a good friend in Helen who also looks out for her.

Some memorable plots *spoilers alert*:
- "It's not goodbye," she whispers. "Not really." (I nearly cried in the LRT!)

- "I put Leo's letter away, so that Dad and I could open it together when he gets home from work, but every time I looked at your envelope, I saw his name. I had to hide yours too." (Sniff sniff!)

- "Why pretend you're okay?" I say, digging my nails into my palms to stop myself from crying. "I have to," Dad says quietly. "I have to pretend every day that he's just gone away for a little while, that he'll be back in any minute. I can't get used to the fact that he's gone so I persuade myself he hasn't. Every morning, I tell myself the same lie but it wears off in the night." (Crying buckets!)

- "We did let her go," Femi says gently, "but not in the way you think. I'm sorry, Jonny, I thought you knew. Emily died last Saturday." (And the flood gate opens!!!)

Instructions for the Second-hand Heart is available at major bookstores nationwide. I've received this book from the good people at MPH in return for my honest review.

My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.35

Author: Tamsyn Murray
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Family
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