Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Heart to Heart

Heart to Heart

Lurlene McDaniel
For ages 12 and up
Random House, 2012   ISBN: 978-0440240174

The summer before she went into seventh grade, Kassey met Elowyn in the hospital. Both girls had broken limbs and needed surgery, and while they were recovering they become friends. In September the girls entered the same school and their friendship grew. They were on the same volleyball team and it quickly became apparent that they were perfectly matched. Kassey was invited to join Elowyn’s family for their summer vacation, and soon it became a “habit” that they would go on vacation together every summer.

When they enter the ninth grade the girls’ friendship is sorely tried when Elowyn gets a boyfriend. Suddenly Kassey is no longer the one Elowyn wants to spend all her time with, and Kassey has a hard time accepting the new status quo graciously. She does her best, but Elowyn’s sudden defection is hurtful. The situation is not helped at all when Elowyn and her boyfriend Wyatt start fighting. Kassey gets stuck with the job of comforting Elowyn when she and Wyatt have a spat. What makes the situation even worse is that Wyatt asks for Kassey’s help when there is a particularly big blow up.

One day Elowyn sees Wyatt holding another girl’s hands and she loses it. Furious with Wyatt because he is cheating on her, Elowyn goes for a drive. She does not come home that night and in the morning her car is found. Elowyn’s vehicle slid off the road and crashed and now she is in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury.

For days Elowyn’s parents, Kassey, and Kassey’ mother sit and wait, hoping that Elowyn’s brain will recover and heal, but it does not. Eventually they are told that Elowyn’s situation is not going to improve . They are also told that Elowyn checked the donor box on her driver’s license. In keeping with their daughter’s wishes Elowyn’s parents agree to allow Elowyn, as her last act, to help others.

Arabeth has a failing heart and needs a transplant. She is running out of time when a donor heart finally appears and she has the operation that she so desperately needs. She knows that someone had to die so that she might live, and she is so incredibly grateful for the second chance that she has been given. She cannot deny however that there are times when thoughts, feelings, and ideas come to her that do not seem to be her own, and even her mother notices that Arabeth is not quite the same person she was before the transplant.

Arabeth is recovering well and getting her life back when she hears from the donor family. They would like to meet her, and she in turn would like to thank them and find out a little about the girl whose heart beats in her chest. The meeting is a little strange but Arabeth is glad to find out about Erowyn. Then she gets to meet Erowyn’s best friend, Kassey, and a whole new chapter in Arabeth’s life begins.

This extraordinary novel is both heart-breaking and life affirming. It explores how people cope with grief, and how the legacies of the dead can actually bring joy to others. In the end Erowyn gives Arabeth life, and she also gives her something else that is precious.