8 November 2016

Review #550: Instructions for a Second-hand Heart by Tamsyn Murray

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Sharp are the arrows of a broken heart.”

----Cassandra Clare

Tamsyn Murray, an English author, pens a soul touching and riveting young adult contemporary fiction in her new book, Instructions for a Second-hand Heart that is centered around two young teenagers, one suffers from a fatal and terminal heart condition where his heart is forced to pump throw external machines and is on the never ending waiting list for a heart donor, and the other lives under her perfect brother's shadow but soon tragedy strikes and leaves her broken hearted.


Jonny isn't like "normal" teenagers. Every day he wakes up in hospital, kept alive by a machine. Every day he wonders if this is the day they'll find a donor match for his heart. Every day he wonders if this is the day he'll die.

Every day, Niamh fights with her "perfect" brother Leo. Every single day, Leo wins. Every day, Niamh dreams of a life without Leo. But all that changes on the day of the accident: the day EVERYTHING falls apart.

This is a story about facing the future no matter how frightening. This is a story about healing your heart, no matter how much it hurts.

Jonny has stopped hoping that one day he would walk out of the hospital doors and live life to the fullest, even though his only best friend, Em, forever pushes him to have faith and hope and fulfill his bucket list before death claims him suddenly. Jonny has also lost hope from that never ending waiting list for a donor match for his heart transplant. Even though his parents' eyes silently hopes that someday Jonny finds his match for a new heart.

Niamh never stops hoping that the world will be a better place without her flawlessly perfect twin brother, Leo, whose perfection forces Niamh to live her life under his shadow. Although Leo is her only friend, the only person whom she loves and trusts above all, but she keeps wishing for the otherwise. And that is when tragedy strikes and everything changes. Everything that demands and forces Niamh to face the world and so the future despite of the great loss that she suffered from.

The story reads like a breath of fresh air amidst the hoards of so many "been there, read that" kind of YA contemporary fiction. The story line is fresh, unique and extremely enthralling even the story reflect some clichés. The story is high on deep emotions and sentiments that will hit the readers' hearts with its sharpness and vividness. The author successfully enlightens the young growing minds on how to deal with loss, pain and the also inspires them to take risks and think about the unknown future. The underlying message about pain, second chances and the future are strikingly portrayed through the story line that will easily seep into the readers' minds while reading.

The author's writing style is extremely polished, and laced with evocative emotions that will deeply move its readers. The prose reflects simplicity and realism and that sync well with this coming-of-age story. Since pain plays a major role in this story, the author cleverly manages to instill light humor through the free flowing and articulate narrative of the book. The pacing of the book is super fast, as the author touches and pens only the necessary scenes for this story thereby making it worthwhile, and quick to read for her readers. So if any readers is looking for an escape getaway that offers fun, love, enlightenment about young life with a bit of touchy feel sensation, then this book perfectly fits the bill.

The story is very much addictive so I warn you before you pick up a copy of this book, you won't be able to look away from this book and you will be forced to keep turning the pages of this book until the very last. The characters from this book are not only well developed but are also laced with realism in their demeanor thereby making them relatable in the eyes and the minds of the readers. The main protagonist, Jonny, before his old heart, will come across as bit of a morbid guy, although its justifiable the way he behaves and acts like there is no hope for survival, but Jonny after a new heart, will come across as someone very lively and is not scared to take chances, even though he is bit of an idiot around his once-upon-a-time-only-hospital-friend, Em, who teaches him a lot about life and supports him from the background and their friendship will be bound to break the hearts of the readers, I felt tears in my eyes while reading about Em and her destiny. Apart from that, Jonny keeps the gloominess, sadness at bay for the readers, who after reading about Niamh's loss will feel an immense grief for the character's sad plight. Niamh is not that brave after losing her brother, yet the friendship between Jonny and herself uplifts her and keeps her moving forward.

In a nutshell, the story is fun, poignant and extremely delightful enough to make the readers understand about pain, grief and loss through a sweet story of friendship, young love and trust.

Verdict: One hell of an alluring, emotional and fun-filled ride that is a must read for one and all.

Courtesy: Thanks to the author's publishers for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.

Author Info:
Hertfordshire-based writer of books. Lives with one husband, one daughter, one son, one mad chocolate labrador, one aged tabby cat, five gorgeous bunnies. Likes animals (no, really?), Marmite and messing about on stage. Dislikes spiders, celery and arrogant people.
Visit her here

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