Saturday, May 2, 2009

Review in Two: Cold Hands, Warm Heart by Jill Wolfson

Despite growing up only a few miles apart, Dani and Amanda have never met and have lived very different lives: surgeries and loneliness for one and athletic and academic accomplishments for the other. When their lives unexpectedly collide, the two girls just may end up sharing more in common than anyone could imagine, and readers are taken along on a journey of healing, friendship and sacrifice that will lead them to laugh and cry.

Cold Hands, Warm Heart
by Jill Wolfson
Release Date: March 31, 2009
ARC supplied by publisher

I received this ARC back in early March, but had a bunch of other books that I had to read first. When it arrived I took a cursory glance at the cover, noting the title and art, and didn't even bother to flip it over to read the jacket copy. I made an assessment based on the above that the book was just another teen novel about either vampires or werewolves or both, and that I'd get around to it later. I judged a book by its cover, and darn it, I was wrong. It was only when the processed book arrived at the library ready for shelving that I flipped it over and found out I was wrong. How was I to know it would turn out to be a gripping realistic fiction novel telling the literally heart-wrenching tale of one family's loss that would give other families a second chance at life?

Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. I began reading as my flight took off from Newark and didn't stop until I finished, reading almost my entire flight to Houston. This isn't your typical YA realistic fiction focusing on heartbreak. It wasn't the finest piece of young adult literature that I've ever read, but it was a compelling story and I really found myself invested in Dani's character and pulling for her both to romantically (Yes, there's a cute, angst ridden teenage boy in need of a liver!) and medically. It felt honest and true, and I liked that it wasn't treading over those same old plot lines - tragic accidents, teenage suicide and the like - that lately, it seems, have bit written to death (no pun intended). This was a story about loss, but more so about hope.

Oh, and the story was also chock full o' organ transplant information! This both intrigued me and left me pondering a bit about those individuals - children, parents, brothers, sisters - awaiting organ donation, and how I might be able to give the gift of life by becoming an organ donor*. I can see teens reading this and getting involved in promoting organ donation, taking a step back against how they may see/treat other teens who are chronically ill and in need of organ or tissue donation, or even just inspire someone to give blood. If you're interested in learning more (and you will be after you read this book!), check out organizations like Donate Life America (which also sponsors this touching and educational site), UNOS or the government's website for more information.

* Full disclosure: I went to the MVC last week to renew and spent several minutes going back and forth about whether or not to identify myself as an organ donor. I ultimately decided against identifying myself as an organ donor on my license, because I once saw an episode of ER (or maybe it's an urban legend?) that convinced me that if something horrible happened to me and I wound up in critical condition and my license said I was an organ donor, that doctors would let me die in order to get my organs. It's stuck with me and made me quite paranoid. And yes, I realize that's ridiculous. That said, I fully intend to make sure my family knows that despite what my license says, I do want to donate my organs.

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