Summary: Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, popular varsity soccer star Emmi comes down with an ordinary virus. But when she doesn’t bounce back as always, she gets the worst possible news—she’s had myocarditis that’s destroyed her heart, putting her into congestive heart failure. This formerly energetic teen can now barely walk across a room without having to stop and rest. And the prognosis is bleak: without a heart transplant, she’ll die in a matter of months. It’s only her growing friendship with Abe, the funny, smart boy she meets in the cardiac clinic, that finally cheers her up. But difficult questions race through her mind while she waits: Will she get a heart in time? Will she even survive the surgery? What if her body rejects the heart? When tragedy strikes close to home, Emmi must rely even more on her inner strength in order to carry on. -- WestSide Books
I really enjoy YA books and I think there are so many great ones out there, but I find that I rarely rush to read them. I don't mean that in a bad way because there are loads of them that I want to read, but with the ages of my kids, I usually find myself reading picture books or early readers along with lots of middle grade fiction. So I am very glad that I "made" the time to read CHANGE OF HEART by Shari Maurer because it was a wonderful book that really resonated with me.
CHANGE OF HEART tells the story of Emmi, a young teen girl who seems to have everything going for her. She's a star soccer player, a great student, and a popular girl with lots of friends. When a regular cold goes very bad, Emmi discovers that she is an extremely sick young woman who is suffering from congestive heart failure and needs a heart transplant. Within just weeks, Emmi's "perfect" life is turned upside-down and she finds herself fighting just to stay alive.
I really enjoyed CHANGE OF HEART and actually read it in one sitting. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book because I'm not exactly the target audience; however, I think that goes to show you that this book will appeal to "girls" of all ages. I thought the story was extremely readable and I quickly became caught up in Emmi's life. In fact, I think the character of Emmi was what made this book so real for me.
Emmi definitely wasn't perfect and at times she was a little selfish. But I think that's what I liked so much about her -- Emmi was a believable teen. Her reactions to her health problems were real. She was scared and cried a lot, but she was also furious that something like this could happen to her. She wasn't always sweet and patient. She got upset and took things out on her family and friends. To be honest, I could see myself reacting much in the same way if I were faced with her problems. Had the author portrayed Emmi in a more "saintly" manner, I don't think I would have felt such an affinity with her (or enjoyed the book quite as much.)
Of course, as a mother, I think this book affected me on many different levels. My heart absolutely went out to Emmi, and I could only think how strong her parents must have been to see her through this entire ordeal. I also couldn't help but imagine how devastated I would be if something like this happened to one of my children. As a I read this novel, I was constantly reminded how precious our lives are and how everything can just change in a second.
CHANGE OF HEART is definitely going in Booking Daughter's future-read pile. In fact, it's one of those YA books that she can probably read sooner rather than later. While I felt the story realistically depicted a teen girl and her emotions, the story was still told in a sweet way. Emmi has the normal teen issues like mother/daughter conflicts, boyfriend problems, college anxiety, and friendship tensions; however, on top of that, she was wondering if she was going to live to be an adult. I think that despite Emmi's serious health problems, young girls are going to relate to her and see a great deal of themselves in her character.
CHANGE OF HEART would also make wonderful book club pick for teens or even mother daughter book clubs. There are some interesting dynamics going on between Emmi and her mother that would be interesting to discuss. However, there are also tons of other issues to talk about including dating, peer pressure, friendships, mortality, healing, fears, insecurities, betrayal, and forgiveness. CHANGE OF HEART is definitely a touching book that's just filled with important life lessons.
I highly recommend CHANGE OF HEART. I thoroughly appreciated this novel, and I think young teen girls will agree!
Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of her novel.