Source: From publisher for review
Publication Date: 23 Apr 2010
Related Series: NA
Format: Paperback (ARC)
Shari Maurer - Official Site
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Place(s) Traveled to: New City, New York
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Prologue First Line:If I had known "normal" could disappear so quickly, would have appreciated it more?
Chapter One First Line: "Don't give up!" I screamed to my teammates as I ran down the field.
I first learned of Change of Heart through my affiliation with the group YA Roundup, which is a group that promotes debut authors of Young Adult and Middle Grade books. I also had the opportunity to meet Shari during BEA week this past May at a Class of 2K10 book signing at Books of Wonder in NYC. I was intrigued by the premise of this book as I don't think its one that has been addressed much in young adult fiction. Teens have a tendency not to think about their own mortality very much and the books that do deal with a teen dying are often ones that have ghosts or vampires in them. Both of which offer up potential for continued life, just different from what that character knew before. Although there are notable exceptions to this with books like Thirteen Reasons Why, Hold Still and The Sky is Everywhere.
But overall I don't think many teens think much about dying. And when they do they think more in terms of accidental or unexpected death. Which is part of what makes Change of Heart different. This is a book about an active teen girl who learns that if she doesn't get a new heart not only will she never play soccer again, but she also probably won't live to see adulthood. Even simple things that most people take for granted, like dancing, can be life threatening to Emmi and its a huge struggle for her to come to grips to being super active to sitting around and waiting. Especially since waiting usually leads to thoughts of how the only way she can live is if another person dies.
I really enjoyed the first part of this novel. I loved the interaction between Emmi and her family - and I loved that she had a family! A nice, normal family with parents who just didn't understand her and brother who did nothing but annoy their older sister. Families are so rare in young adult books these days that it was nice to see here. The parents interacted with their kids, they got upset and snapped and as a reader you got to see as they struggled to deal with Emmi's diagnosis which was just as hard on them as it was on her. I loved the contrast of thoughts that was shown between Emmi and her parents that came through in their conversations. Emmi's parents would think more long term while Emmi would focus more on the short - like going out that weekend with friends and think her parents where overreacting when such activity might harm her - when in reality it could.
What bothered me with this book was that towards the last half it seemed as if Maurer didn't think that the drama and struggle with waiting for a new heart was enough. So she started to through in a ton of different plot lines that just muddled up the story. This is the part of the book where I began to roll my eyes and think to myself "how cliched!" Not that the events depicted weren't believable as I could see them happening....but they were just so predictable. And because of that predictability the story began to wane for me.
I do think that Shari Maurer has filled an important niche with Change of Heart. That the overall storyline is an important one to bring to light. I love how she brings organ donation from this huge abstract thought right into the hearts and homes of teens. Organ donation is so important and the simple act of just telling your loved ones that you want to be a donor if the worst happens could give someone like Emmi a future. If you've ever thought about being an organ donor but had some doubts please take a moment to read my Wednesday post in which I talk about some common myths about organ donation.
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