If there is one book that you need to read this year more than any other, it’s this one. It is fun, well written, and takes you around the world to places you’d never dream of. It’s inspirational too. I mention this in my review, but for those of you who don’t know, my husband is a liver transplant patient. Different from a heart transplant obviously, but his illness and all we endured prior to transplant were not too different. I’m not going to lie, I was slightly hesitant to read this. I think it’s why I didn’t immediately dive in when I got it. When I did, all the memories of what my family went through started coming back. A few times I had to put the book down and just let them come.
As hard as that was, the feelings sort of switched gears once I started reading about the bucket list. I wonder if my husband’s donor had a bucket list? Unfortunately even though we’ve reached out to the family, we have never received a response. But now I might dream about it. Maybe we’ll make our own bucket list in honor of that family. Wouldn’t that be fun!? This was an emotional read for me my friends, but for a totally different reason then that of the normal reader. I am a huge fan of this book. I have made it a priority to put it on my reading list every year going forward. For memories, for inspiration, and for a good read. I encourage you to do the same!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide and living with her parents in her small Minnesota hometown, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.
When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.
As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.
This book. Wow. I’m not even sure where to begin. How about here – When I first knew one of the main characters was a heart transplant recipient, I was a little nervous to pick it up. My husband had a liver transplant years ago, and I was afraid that all sorts of memories would resurface. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go down that road, it was scary as a wife to see him go through that, and watch our daughter deal with it. So from this aspect, I connected with this book in a lot of ways that others may not. Crystal – well she had a lot of the same feelings that I did, and I have never talked to someone before who had, so she kind of became my best friend. And Megan? Well, she had me at hello.
The author did a wonderful job of portraying a transplant recipient and family member. The emotions were spot on. Even when talking about the scarring – I could totally see my husband reacting the same way. As someone who has been through this, I appreciated the time and effort it took in researching this part of the story. It made it more believable and really made the reading experience that much more enjoyable.
Facts aside, Lindsay Harrel created some wonderful characters. Megan’s growth throughout this book was like watching your young child grow out of their shy stage and they stop hiding behind your leg. I think Megan found it easy to hide behind her transplant. She just needed something to give her a little nudge. Enter the bucket list. This was such a creative idea on the author’s part. To meet with the donor family and be able to honor them in some way is something that a lot of transplant patients dream of doing, but never get to actually do it. Baby steps. That was how Megan’s growth progressed and it was perfect. Not once did I think she would turn into this take charge woman overnight, or start speaking up for herself like she had done it for years. It needed to happen gradual, and the author did a great job of making sure that it did.
The secondary characters were just as good as Megan and Crystal. I think I found myself centered on Crystal and Brian for a lot of the book because I was so interested in their marriage. I needed to see if Crystal would become the wife that Brian wanted. But you know, in marriage there is sacrifice, and we are supposed to accept our spouses for who they are. At first, Brian and Crystal kind of upset me – why was Brian trying to change Crystal, and how had she changed from when they first married? And it hit me. Life happens. Sometimes we get sucked into life so much that we lose perspective on what’s important, what takes priority in our lives. And so as much as this was a journey for Megan, it was a journey for Crystal. Finding her priorities and deciding what she wanted in life. To be honest, it trickled down to me as I found myself looking at my own priorities and wondering if I was making the same mistakes as her.
The bottom line here is that this is a great read. It will make you smile, feel good, and have hope. It may even make you take a look at your own life to be sure you are living to the fullest. Make your own bucket list. Remember the One who gave you life and don’t take it for granted! I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd with a B.A. in journalism and M.A. in English. She lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Lindsay has held a variety of jobs, including curriculum editor for two universities, medical and business writer, and copywriter for a digital marketing agency. Now she juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with working freelance jobs, teaching college English courses online, and—of course—writing novels.
When she actually has time to do other things, she loves to sing, read, and sip passion iced teas from Starbucks. She loves to watch God work in ordinary lives to create something extraordinary, and she writes to bring hope to those who may have lost it along the way. Connect with her at www.LindsayHarrel.com and any other place she hangs out online, including Facebook and Twitter.