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.
Received in exchange for an honest review from Usborne Publishing
Prior to reading Instructions for a Second-hand Heart, I didn't really know what to expect. The blurb clued me in on the subjects it deals with, but that was about it- I hadn't gone through any reviews or engaged in any form of exchange about this book, and what a good thing that was in this case. I was able to read and reflect on this beautiful, beautiful book with no preconceived notions and that in itself, probably helped me like this book more.
Jonny is someone who has never been able to lead what is considered a "normal" childhood thanks to a heart condition that required him to spend a huge part of his life at the hospital. Most of his time is spent wondering if he'd ever find a donor match for his heart. Niamh is someone who has always had to live in the shadow of her perfect twin brother, Leo. So when something unexpected happens, she's left trying to deal with it on her own as everything around her falls apart.
You've probably guessed what's going to happen right from the blurb, so I guess it wouldn't be spoiler-y to say that it is ultimately Leo's heart that ends up saving Jonny, but the way things fold out, the way the author deals with everything and the beautiful writing all help to make this one novel, refreshing reading experience indeed.
The narrative alternates between Jonny's and Niamh's POVs, and both these characters are very unique, with such strong voices that you'd have no problem at all putting yourself in their shoes and seeing things from their perspectives. When things start escalating and they each make rather questionable decisions, you wouldn't judge them for it- you'll be able to see right where they are coming from and what they go through, so to say that they are relatable would be an understatement. Both characters are going through a very tough phase in life in this book, and this is portrayed very well.
Emily is Jonny's friend at the hospital, and theirs was such a heartwarming, lovely relationship. I felt they were really great at supporting each other and it made me positively radiate happiness at seeing the way they interacted with each other- but this doesn't mean it was all not heart-breaking at one point or the other of course, but I still loved their friendship. In fact, I absolutely loved how the author dealt with all the relationships, including the familial ones, which don't really get all that much importance in regular YA.
I absolutely loved the author's writing style, which was crisp, to the point and paced just right. Laced with enough emotions and suspense to keep you hooked, the refreshing way the story was narrated with beautiful simplicity made me an instant fan of the author's writing. Apart from dealing with many other important subjects, this story also helps spread awareness about the importance of organ donation, and I honestly can't think of any other YA book that dealt with that subject last.
This is the kind of story that would make you blink back a few tears and pause to actually think about life. This is the kind of book that speaks to you, the kind of book that you just can't afford to miss. A poignant, emotional rollercoaster of a story, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Instructions for a Second-hand Heart to anyone and everyone who's interested in reading a beautiful story of grief, loss and second chances. Unputdownable? Very much.
The story idea: 5/5
The realization of the story: 5/5
The characters: 5/5
The cover: 5/5 (Simply gorgeous, don't you agree? And so fitting.)
Enjoy factor: 5/5