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Second Hand Heart
 
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Second Hand Heart [Kindle Edition]

Catherine Ryan Hyde

Print List Price: CDN$ 16.75
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Review

An extraordinary and unforgettable book - powerful, poignant and incredibly moving. I read the whole thing at a sitting, and absolutely loved it SUSAN LEWIS Compelling new book Woman's Own (****) ...powerful emotions are aroused. A compelling, thoughtful read Choice Magazine

Product Description

“A fascinating premise and a lovely book. Highly recommended.” –Chicklittings

“A compelling, thoughtful read.” –Choice Magazine

By the bestselling author of DON'T LET ME GO and PAY IT FORWARD, SECOND HAND HEART is a devastating and unexpected story of love and loss—of learning to live for the first time, and learning to live all over again.

Vida is only 19, but she knows a lot about dying. Her weak heart has kept her on the edge of death her whole life. It hasn't been much of a life. Thanks to her overprotective mother, Vida's only friend is Esther, an elderly Holocaust survivor who lives upstairs. Vida's heart is finally about to give out, unless she can get a donor heart in time.

Richard is 36 and blissfully married, until he gets the call that his beloved wife has died in a car accident. His world falls to pieces. When Richard is invited to the hospital to meet the young woman who received his wife’s donor heart, he goes, even though he's entirely not ready for it.

Vida takes one look at Richard and feels she’s known and loved him all her life. Richard is horrified by her reaction and thinks Vida is just a sheltered and confused young woman.

As Vida and Richard struggle to define themselves in circumstances neither ever thought they'd face, both begin to wonder if it's possible that cellular memory, the idea that memories can be stored in individual cells, might actually be real. Could Vida's heart retain some of the love Richard's wife felt? Can a heart remember, at least for a time, on its own?

“A first-rate read! ... Second Hand Heart is a great book about surviving despite the odds” –Leah Graham, Chick Lit Reviews and News

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 472 KB
  • Print Length: 422 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1463630778
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0055WY7O8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #12,956 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  357 reviews
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A first-rate read! June 22 2011
By Leah Graham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Nineteen year old Vida isn't like many girls her age. She can't go to school, doesn't have many friends, and can barely leave the house due to the fact her heart is failing and she desperately needs a transplant. When a heart becomes available, and the transplant is successful, Vida is determined to live life like never before. When Vida meets Richard, the man whose wife's heart now beats in Vida, she immediately falls in love with him but Richard dismisses her claims. How is it possible for Vida to love him when she doesn't even know him? Could it be that the heart she now has beating in her chest is remembering the love for him, is that even possible? As Vida learns to live life again properly, she can't shake the feeling that there's somewhere she has to go and visit. But where?

Catherine Ryan Hyde's books definitely fall into the `women's fiction' category than the `chick lit' category but I read both styles of books and after reading When I Found You, I knew I liked Catherine's style of writing. She's been compared to Jodi Picoult which is a strange one; one I disagree with in fact as I think she has her own writing style. Second Hand Heart, I'm sure you can guess, is about a second hand heart and what it means to have a heart that was someone else's. It's an interesting subject and is one I've never actually thought of before but Ryan Hyde presents a great argument as to whether or not it is possible for a heart to take over memories and things into a new donor.

What surprised me most about the book was how it was written. Instead of being written like a proper book, the book is actually written in the form of a journal. And while I was a little hesitant about that at first, what with the short chapters, I soon got used to it and begun to enjoy it. What also helps the book is the fact that it's written with journal entries from both Vida and Richard with alternating sections of the book, giving us insight into both of their lives at any given moment. With that writing style it meant we got both sides of the story: what it was like for Vida to know she could die at any moment whilst waiting for a new heart before receiving the new heart and beginning to live life properly again. On the flip-side we had Richard, grieving for his wife, who goes to visit this young girl who has received the heart and has to come to terms with the fact there is someone, Vida, that has his wife's heart and has to deal with that fact.

Second Hand Heart is a great book about surviving despite the odds, and I loved getting to know Vida, Richard, Esther and Vida's mum. I don't personally think it was as good as When I Found You but I still loved reading it nevertheless. Ryan Hyde seems to have found her very own niche market with her books and no one writes books similar to hers and I look forward to many more in the future! I hugely recommend you pick up one of her books, they're really worth reading!
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can a second hand heart bring two people together? June 21 2011
By Nikki-ann - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Second Hand Heart isn't just a love story, it addresses the subject of organ donation and transplantation as well as the theory of cellular memory (where the donor recipient takes on memories, habits, interests and tastes of the donor, that may have somehow been stored in the cells of the transplanted organ). While I don't usually go for a love story type of book, I'm all for organ donation (as I've let my family know) and I've heard of cellular memory, so I thought this might be interesting.

This book is written in journal format and each journal entry is a chapter. The first few chapters of the book are Vida's journal, then we get a few journal entries from Richard, before going back to Vida and it carries on like that. There's also a few emails, mainly between Richard and his mother-in-law, thrown into the mix. It may sound like it could get confusing, but it isn't and the story flows seamlessly between the two journals.

Much like Richard did, I found the character of Vida to come across as a bit childish for her age. However, after a while of thinking that, I came to remember that Vida had a different upbringing to most children. She was weak and spent most of her childhood at home with her mother, rather than out making friends etc. While I understood that, I did find her character to be a bit on the stalker-ish side too, in the way that she pursues Richard. Still, I found her to be a unique character (how many young girls have an elderly best friend?)

Despite having never lost a loved-one as close as Richard has, I can understand his need to hang on to the life-force of his wife. His mixed emotions and on-going grief are understandable for somebody in his situation.

I've never read any of Catherine Ryan Hyde's books before, though I recognised the name. Catherine is a best-selling author (and deservedly so) and I think most people will have heard of Pay It Forward. I've not read the book, but I have seen the movie (though apparently the two are very different). Having read Second Hand Heart, I'm certainly interested in reading more of her work.

I enjoyed Second Hand Heart and the journey taken through the Story. I found that you think it's going to go one way and then it goes in another direction. This is definitely a worth-while read and one I did in 3 sittings.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a love story but the story of learning how to live and how to survive the loss of a loved one July 28 2010
By Stella (Ex Libris) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
My thoughts: Return to Me with Minnie Driver and David Duchovny (which is about "a man who falls in love with the woman who received his wife's heart must decide which woman it is who holds his heart") is one of my favourite movies, so of course as soon as I saw what Second Hand Heart was about I knew I had to read it.

I was intrigued by Second Hand Heart' theme: cellular memory. That a person's life, memories are not only stored in their brain but in every organ and cell of their body, and the heart being one of the most important organs retains thus the deepest indentation or evidence of such memories.

Second Hand Heart is written through Vida's and Richard's journal entries/e-mails and while I felt such approach suited a teenager girl it was a bit harder to imagine a 36 year old man purging his innermost thoughts on paper.

Vida is a very sheltered 19 year old girl, who only starts living after her heart transplant. After the successful transplant the world opens up and she can finally step out and discover it. Yes, due to her very sheltered and inexperienced upbringing she is very naive and childish, but in an endearing way, and she is pure and honest. I loved how Catherine Ryan Hyde made her a layered character: that due to her previous sufferings and all she has gone through at such a young age she had a certain wisdom and objectivity to life, then on the other hand due to her inexperience of never having "stepped out" of her room and never having lived life, she also had a certain naivety and childishness. Vida was quite a unique and definitely interesting character.

Of course writing Richard must have been harder. He is the grieving husband who lost the love of his life. How can he grieve for his deceased wife yet be intrigued by this young girl? I felt that Catherine Ryan Hyde's portrayal of Richard and how a griving husband tries to grasp the loss of his wife and how to survive every single day and go on with his life was done quite well, tough I didn't find the novel - despite its subject - emotionally powerful or overwhelming. It was a nice, quick read, and I would even say a "light" beach read.

The journal format was one of the things that put me off most: the language and descriptions were quite simplified (I felt even too simplified, this book wasn't written for teens) and I had difficulties believing that a grieving 30something man would pour out his feelings in a journal.

Verdict: The problem is that this novel isn't really a love story. At least not the love story of Richard and Vida. Second Hand Heart is the story of learning how to live and how to survive the loss of a loved one. It was a nice read but my complaint is that the blurb led me to expect something quite different than it was.

I'll leave you with two of my favourite quotes from the novel:

'No one can tell you when you are going to die, You die when you are done, Not a moment before. Not a moment after. No matter what anyone says. No matter what anyone wishes for you.'

'Well I stand by my answer,' I said. 'But it's not cynism. Just the opposite. I have too much respect for love to believe that [=to believe in love at first sight]. I don't even believe in the concept of falling in love. The falling part, I mean. We should all be so lucky that love is something you just fall into. Like, "A funny thing happened to me today: I was walking down the street and I tripped and fell into some love." You don't fall down to love, you climb up to it. There's hard work involved. That's why I don't believe you can love someone you don't know. Loving someone is knowing them.'

Plot: 7/10
Characters: 8/10
Ending: 7/10
Writing: 6/10
Cover: 9/10
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring and Confusing Nov. 8 2012
By Melissa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The concept of this story is intriguing and it would lend itself to a great story... just not this one. This story was sooooo confusing. I could not follow the plot line and honestly I do not know if there was a definite plot. During the middle of the story, I wanted to stop reading but I wanted to find out what happened in the end. The end was uneventful. I was very disappointed. The concept of this book had potential to be a great topic for an interesting read; however, this is not the book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Story of the Heart April 23 2012
By Robin Andrea - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Second Hand Heart is a deeply compelling and touching story of the human heart and what it may remember. Catherine Ryan Hyde draws us into this amazing tale through the journal entries of two writers: Vida and Richard. They are connected by the transplant of a beating heart; one the recipient, and the other the husband of the tragic donor. This is not a simple story, but one that explores the depth of memory in the very cells that make us who we are. I am absolutely struck by the author's understanding of our human need to stay connected to those we have loved; to make peace with our tragedies; to say out loud "I won..." and "I lived." I love how Catherine Ryan Hyde sees the world.

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