Sunday, January 24, 2010

In A Heartbeat: Loretta Ellsworth


When a small mistake costs sixteen-year-old Eagan her life during a figure-skating competition, she leaves many things unreconciled, including her troubled relationship with her mother. From her vantage point in the afterlife, Eagan reflects back on her memories, and what she could have done differently, through her still-beating heart.When fourteen-year-old Amelia learns she will be getting a heart transplant, her fear and guilt battle with her joy at this new chance at life. And afterwards when she starts to feel different--dreaming about figure skating, craving grape candy--her need to learn about her donor leads her to discover and explore Eagan's life, meeting her grieving loved ones and trying to bring the closure they all need to move on.Told in alternating viewpoints, "In a Heartbeat "tells the emotional and compelling story of two girls sharing one heart.


I've heard the stories about organ recipients- especially heart ones- picking up traits from their donor Despite having a research background, I've never looked at the research articles on this subject but it certainly made an interesting element for this novel. Amelia doesn't just pick up a new favorite food or an affinity for something- she almost undergoes an entire personality change. Breaking up the chapters of Amelia's story are those from Eagen, trying to figure out the afterlife and the constant back and forth between life and death was a very unique way to pitch this story.

There is minimal action in this story- it is more of a character development kind of book but I still enjoyed it. Parts of it were predictable and some sections lagged but overall, it was a bit of a feel good book. These two girls who never would have had anything in common are now forever joined by a single heart and this book most certainly made me really think about the organ donor process. I have my license checked that I want to be a donor but how many people really consider what that means- and what it would mean for our family should we die and our organs are harvested? This book also thrusts into light the hardest part about donating- for someone else to live, a person has to die and that is a hard thing to swallow I am sure for the person who is getting the organ. Ellsworth did a phenomenal job with that in this book- Amelia didn't just think about it once, it was constant and often.

I enjoyed the characters although I have to admit, Eagen for the most part got on my nerves. She practically hated her mom and apart from they just fought a lot, it seemed like there was never actual a reason but teen angst which kind of bothered me. Granted, she ended up dying young and her mother has to now forever live knowing her daughter felt like that- which could make all the teen girls who have this same relationship question it- but this particular element bothered me. It seemed almost unnecessarily harsh for me. But at the same time, it created a nice contrast to Amelia who was close to her parents. Where Amelia was grateful for everything because she probably wouldn't live past 14 or 15, Eagan was kind of a brat who everyone thought had all this potential and her whole life planned out.

The ending of this book was a really nice one- both story lines ended up tying together and things took a few surprising turns. This book, overall, did make me stop and think and I do recommend it to anyone who likes these kind of books.

Source: I received this hardbound finished book for review from Bloomsbury/Walker Books in exchange for my honest review.
Hardcover, 208 pages
Walker & Company
February 02, 2010
ISBN13: 9780802720689
ISBN: 0802720684

Other Reviews:
Lost In Ink
The Book Scout
Good Golly Miss Holly Books
Pirate Penguin's Reads

Loretta Ellsworth will be participating in a blog tour to promote this book in February. For the full schedule, check out her website here.


  1. I love the concept of this book, and I've never read anything like it yet-so I will defiantly pick this one up at the bookstore when it comes out.

  2. This sounds like a very deep, very sweet story. I've been looking for a book like this lately, and your review makes it sound great! I can't wait for the release now! Thank you :)

  3. This has been on my wish list for a while now, so I'm happy to know that it doesn't suck =P I can safely say that it's not going anywhere anytime soon. Great review.

  4. Ooh, great review! I'm still waiting to get this one for a tour. Glad to know it's good! :D

  5. What a wonderful review! I'm interested in this book now... Thanks!

  6. I'm glad to know that you liked it. And thanks for linking my review-that's very sweet of you :)

  7. Yay, I'm glad you liked it! I need to start this one soon myself, so I'm crossing my fingers. And, lol, I guess we can chalk up a lot of fights to "teen angst." Ah, teen angst, how troublesome you are. Great review! :D

  8. It is a really unique concept and well done. And yes Jenn- many things are teen angst but the particular level of hatred in this book bugged me, but maybe that's just because the mom will forever know her daughter was generally angry at her when she died. That's just a hard pill to swallow.

  9. Great Post.....

    I found your site on stumbleupon and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

    Thanks for sharing....