Instructions for a Secondhand Heart by Tamsyn Murray
“And I ache for her, because I want nothing more than to help, but I don’t know if I can. Leo brought us together, but he’s also standing between us. Or at least, his heart is.”
After receiving a transplant Jonny can’t help but try to find out who he is by finding out about the boy who donated his heart to him. Neve is battling grieving over her twin Leo after he dies because she spent so much time when he was alive in his shadow, and even now she can’t escape the constant reminder about how amazing he was. That is till Jonny comes by saying all the wrong things and still stealing her heart.
I was a little skeptical to start another YA contemporary romance involving a kid who gets a heart transplant because I thought I would compare it so much with Things We Know by Heart too much. Fortunately it was just barely there nagging at my mind, and though there are some parts that are similar in story, it really was different, and still really good.
Told in alternating POV we get to see both Jonny’s and Neve’s stories unfold. From the start my cold, stubborn heart became invested in the characters. The chapters were super short but hitting directly where it was going to hurt the most. Each chapter really brought about the struggle that both characters were going through, and how they eventually come together.
Extra points for the additional comic books from Jonny, it really added just that extra bit of flair that makes this book extra special and really help develop the character.
Neve- a part of me really wanted to hate this girl. I like that from the beginning she has accepted that she was basically the grouchy child that gave her parents a hard time because her twin Leo had outshone her so much. Even through the grief of her twin dying she still sticks to the attitude that she had developed from living in his shadow. It was incredibly heartbreaking seeing how much survivor guilt she had because of the way her parents treated both of them so differently, and how she can never ever try to beat him again.
Jonny-Okay, so despite what he does in the book, this kid is ridiculously naive and sweet. My heart hurt so much when he was trying to just figure himself out after being the sick hospital kid. Murray does such a good job using subtle moments to really drive that in, like when he is teased for having all new brand name clothes and he really didn’t know what his style was. I loved how he battled with what he thought was right and how he ended up feeling, and even how he felt about getting a transplant in general.
“Sometimes I wish the surgeons could remove my real heart and leave me with this artificial one forever. Then I wouldn’t feel so guilty about wishing for a tragedy to happen to someone I’ve never met. I’d be genuinely heartless then, instead of only feeling like I am.”
Machine Gun Kelly feat Hailee Steinfeld – At My Best