The Heart Between Us: Two Sisters, One Heart Transplant, and a Bucket Listby Lindsay Harrel (Website, Facebook, Twitter)
Published by Thomas Nelson on March 13, 2018
Genres: Adult, Christian Fiction, Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Diseases, Illnesses & Injuries, Emotions & Feelings, Family
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon • Book Depository • Goodreads
I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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 in her small Minnesota hometown and living with her parents, 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.
The promise of world travel and an emotional journey for the characters what drew me to The Heart Between Us, and I really enjoyed this story of estranged twin sisters traveling together. While this is a Christian fiction book, the heavier questions about trusting God and believing that he had plans for the characters didn’t really show up until the last third of the book or so. It’s not too heavy handed so if that’s not your thing, you’ll still enjoy the read as I did.
Twin sisters Megan and Chrystal have always walked different paths, especially since a weak heart left Megan in and out of the hospital from an early age. While Megan was trapped in a life of waiting for a heart transplant, she was not able to do all of the regular things that Chrystal got to do, like go out with friends, play sports, date, go to dances, and attend college. But Megan finally receives a heart from a teenaged girl who was in a car accident, and she’s reluctant to put herself out into the world even she’s three years post-op. Megan still works as a library aide at their local library and lives at home with her parents in Minnesota, wishing that she was a full-time writer, while Chrystal went to college, moved to New York, and became an up-and-coming architect.
Chrystal’s life seems perfect to those looking in from the outside, she’s worked herself to death trying to become a senior architect at her firm, earning an ulcer for her efforts. The long hours and burnout has zapped her creativity and career potential, and also put a giant strain on her firefighter husband who wants Chrystal to slow down and finally start a family. Chrystal hasn’t seen Megan since she was wheeled into surgery for the transplant, and Megan has always wondered why her twin disappeared from her life. Enter the donor Amanda’s bucket list and her family’s desire to meet the woman who now has their daughter’s heart, and Megan finally feels like she can make a step in the right direction toward living her life–until Chrystal tags along on the trip at the request of their worrying mother.
Both of these women have so far to grow throughout the book. Megan has been hiding behind her transplant and is very self-conscious about her scar, and seeing her cross off the items on the list have her moving out of her shy comfort zone–all while publicly posting them as a travel blog. Chrystal’s fear for her sister’s safety as well as her own crumbling marriage and job has her hanging on tight to her sister while simultaneously being very distant emotionally. If she doesn’t feel, she can’t get hurt, right? With peeks into the 17-year-old donor Amanda’s journal, you see that she was a victim of sexual abuse by an uncle, but no details are given. Amanda’s hopes and dreams are there in snippets, along with her trauma and lingering feelings about the entire event.
The entire transplant backstory was especially emotional, and it hit home a bit for me since my best-friend is currently in need a kidney donor. The agony over waiting for the organ was very realistic, as well as the reactions of Megan’s family. My best friend is searching for a donor due to inherited autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease and she’s currently in Stage 5 renal failure, so if you’d like to check everything out, here’s her Facebook page.
I give THE HEART BETWEEN US a four out of five. This is a clean, fun book to read where the characters must grow emotionally to become better people. It felt a little disjointed when a good chunk of the book was normal contemporary fiction until the Christian aspects started to move in during the last third of the book. The secondary characters of Chrystal’s husband Brian and Megan’s friend Caleb from their hospital days were fleshed out nicely, and they added some great dimension. I was really rooting for Caleb and Megan, as well as hoping that Chrystal and Brian could mend their relationship. Overall, The Heart Between Us is an emotional, heart-filled novel about growing emotionally on a singular level as well as a family. Both Megan and Chrystal have to figure out who they and what their place in the world is, and readers who like contemporary fiction and Christian fiction will enjoy this book.
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About Lindsay Harrel
Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd who lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. She’s held a variety of writing and editing jobs over the years, and now juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with writing novels. When she’s not writing or chasing after her children, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time. Connect with her at www.LindsayHarrel.com.
Connect with Lindsay Harrel
Lindsay Harrel’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for THE HEART BETWEEN US:
Monday, March 12th @beccasbookishlife
Thursday, March 15th: @athousandbookstoread
Friday, March 16th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Tuesday, March 20th: @willbakeforbooks
Thursday, March 22nd: @acozyreader
Friday, March 23rd: View from the Birdhouse
Monday, March 26th: Bewitched Bookworms
Tuesday, March 27th: @bookishconnoisseur
Wednesday, March 28th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, March 29th: Fiction Aficionado
Monday, April 2nd: @createexploreread
Wednesday, April 4th: The Sketchy Reader
Thursday, April 5th: Empowermoms
Friday, April 6th: @bookmusings
Monday, April 9th: Laura’s Reviews
Wednesday, April 11th: Reviews from the Heart
Friday, April 13th: What is That Book About